Panipat Punja Durries

History, craft and cottage industries come together at this important junction between the Punjab and the Gangetic Plains.

About 100 km from Delhi, in the state of Haryana, is the sprawling industrial city of Panipat, a luminary of the handloom industry in India. Long before one enters the main city, billboards proclaim the presence of the weaving units.

Further, up, the main road is flanked by a string of showrooms with local handloom products on display.

Panipat is famous for 'panja' durrie a kind of a floor covering, which is in great demand in India and abroad. Originally, it was a traditional item made by village women meant to be a part of daughter's dowry. But slowly the product came to be recognized beyond Panipat and the growing demand for durries resulted in a burgeoning number of private and state owned weaving units within the city.

The panja durrie is only one of the floor coverings made in Panipat. There are several other kinds of floor covering like large sized handloom durries, chindi or fabric and leather scrap durries, rugs, druggets and carpets. Also made and marketed locally are blankets, khes (the sturdy item used for bed lines) and a vast variety of furnishing fabrics.

Historical Background

What happened to make this plebeian looking city such a flourishing business center? During the partition in 1947, a large number of professional weavers from Sind, Jhang and Multan, (now in Pakistan) migrated to India. As chance would have it, they were allotted land around Panipat to settle down. The weavers lost no time in setting up looms and getting down to their ancestral craft.

But they were up against stiff competition from mills producing the same type of durries much faster and much cheaper. To counter the challenge, weavers of handloom durries began to experiment with color and design. Zebra stripes made way for floral geometrical patterns. Stock reds and blues moved over to let in rich Indian colors. Slowly the new kind of durrie caught on. From cotton to woolen durries, it was but a natural transition, as Panipat is one of the largest markets of raw wool in northern India. Today the Panipat-Ambala durrie-rug belt is famous all over the country and has various outlets at home and abroad

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