Sunday, January 30, 2011

Manali - Our Base in India

When we arrived the city and its mountains were covered with a blanket of snow; everything, except for the roads where ice prevailed, was white. Our water supply frozen over,  Dominique had to rely on snow for our morning coffee....

We chose Manali as our India base about 18 months ago. The town lies at the end of the world, so to speak. Rothang  pass, 50km to the north, leads to Lahaul Valley, Spiti, Ladakh and Central Asia. It is closed for about 7 months a year. However, for better or worse, things are changing rapidly. Last year saw the unveiling of a new 7 km tunnel, which will bypass the seasonal weather conditions, and give 12 month access to the vast and pristine Lahaul. And last weekend we had this:

A ski lift in Solang, one of the first in India.

All of this fun apart, it is not skiing that brought us here, but a totally different resource of the area. Himachal with its proximity to Ladakh, Kashmir, Punjab and Tibet has established itself as one of the great Indian hand-weaving and wool processing centers. Not only does it offer (at least most of the time, more on this in my next post) yak, cashmere, a bit of bactrian camel, wild and mulberry silks, angora, and several varieties of local wool, but also and most importantly a very long and accomplished weaving and spinning tradition.

Actually, now that we are on the subject, the day that began with the unveiling of our ski lift, ended with the inauguration of the annual winter carnival. The residents of the region, did not disappoint, as all the best weaves were on display in town.

Please enjoy a sampling of the Kinnauri interlocked weft weaves:


  1. Hi Jarek I have been watching your comments on the Natural Dye group and am so glad that you have decided to go with your own blog. I have been visiting India since 1984 and have been collecting textiles there on every visit since.

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures - they make me even more determined to visit this beautiful part of the world.

    Maybe you could have a range of natural shawls/wraps that we could purchase to dye ourselves - that would be wonderful!

    All the best with your various ventures

  2. thanks jo, i wish i could take the credit for the pictures, but it is really my new nikon d3100, that makes it all kidding:)

    with the holidays and all the travel over the past few months, our stock has really fallen below the minimum levels. natural fibers have been our base from the beginning and i am sure that there will be a few pieces, in a couple months, in urgent need of dyeing. thanks:)