Amer Agra Intercity Express was running late on 22nd Oct. I was on my way to Agra after a successful trip of Jaipur to meet more artisans and manufacturers, this time, of real Indian artifacts made of marble in the Mughal capital. I had been to this historic city as a kid with my parents on a summer vacation in the early nineties, but hardly any memory of it apart from those photos I have seen in our family album, standing in front of the Taj Mahal, one of the biggest contributions of the Mughals to India, an Iconic Heritage Monument listed among the seven wonders of the world, India’s undisputed pride.
However, my trip this time around to Agra was to meet artisans and the people involved in the art of Marble engraving and sculpting. Perhaps the Taj Mahal, the spectacular gargantuan piece of art on white marble by Architect Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, who was specially brought in by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, had set an enviable precedent for the sculptors of Agra to work on this stone for last so many centuries.
On 23rd morning, I had my first meeting with Mr. Ahmad, from Ahmad Handicrafts at one of his two workshops for making marble inlay works. The models he make are more of utility based like Vasses, Chopping board, Mortal & Pestal, Salt bowl, Coasters, etc. which has a growing demand these days from connoisseurs of this stone art from India and abroad who want to use it in their daily life. At both the Workshop, I could see the high degree of standardised quality procedures Ahmad had set, which helps him to mass produce these products in large scale. Another very interesting product he has mastered are the Table tops with beautiful inlay works. Ahmad was more than willing to be part of the rareitis journey and extended all his support to our cause and for collaborating with us on the website to promote his marble products to customers across the globe.
Biding adieu to Ahmad, I proceeded further to meet Mr. Prabhat Goyal and Mrs. Asha Goyal, who unlike Ahmadbhai, are concentrating more on rare designs and unique items. They have exquisite products like wooden cupboards and other wooden furniture with marble inlays like on the doors and openings of the cabinets, edges and centre of the table etc. These products are long lead items, and takes from 15 to 45 days to complete one pieces of art. They are continuously innovating their products with new designs and concepts like inlaying of the gems on Aluminum and other metals. I visited their workshop where these exquisite pieces of art were made. The design is drawn on a paper and also on the marble top, gem pieces with various colours are grounded precisely as per the design and then inlayed on the marble followed by a buffing and finishing coating. They are extremely careful that gems used by them are unique and stand apart in quality. They were welcome about our concept of www.rareitis.com and we were hand in glove from there on to our new our journey to taking their products to a wider reach of customers.
My third stop of this tour was with Mr. Ramesh Chandra, another old hand in this industry with over 25 years of experience. He also has a range of quality marble products, which we shall be displaying on www.rareitis.com for our web users very soon.
In my two days stay at Agra, I visited more such greats, involved in making these marble marvels for the world to admire their beauty, at their drawing rooms, place of worship, Hotels and offices.
And finally when I was boarding the Shatabdi on 24th evening towards New Delhi, I had met almost all the leading manufacturers and artisans in the marble carving and laying business. It will be very demeaning if we look up to them as people involved in marble business, but, in fact they are the custodians of this rare art form patronised by Architect Ustad Ahmad Lahouri in the mid seventeenth century and helped it survive the test of the time to take it for the future to see. We at rareitis, have pledged our support to them, ensuring a wider reach and better return to their product by taking it directly to the end-user and also benefitting the end-user by providing a huge saving from their direct buy.
And when I said that I have met all of them, back in my mind, I knew that I had missed the customary visit to the Taj Mahal by a visitor to the city. Like the promise I had given to the artisans of marble carving, I made another promise to this city, to come back soon, and this time to see the greatest standing monument of Love constructed on earth. And that visit is going to be different…..it will not be alone, but with my better half.
To know more about Agra Marble Works, please click here.
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