The Valley of Sandur
Once upon a time, it was known as Skandapuri…in honour of the temple dedicated to Skanda, or Kumaraswamy, that still stands today. Home to panthers, deer, chinkaras or Indian gazelles, peacocks and lush vegetation, it was a glimpse of paradise, set in one of the earth’s oldest rock formations. Today it is known as Sandur, which in Kannada means “town between hills”. It is an appropriate name for an area that is defined by a valley surrounded by hills, with two natural gorges on each side. The land continues to be rich in forests, flora, fauna and deposits of iron and manganese ore. Sandur has weathered time well enough for Mahatma Gandhi to have described it as an oasis, when he visited in 1934. Its population includes people who have had their roots in its soil for many, many generations…and those who came as nomads, and then decided to stay.
Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra (SKKK) had its beginnings when twelve local Lambani women, from the thanda of Susheelanagar, were brought together to work as a group. The year was 1984 and this modest initiative heralded the start of a significant change in the lives of not only the Lambanis, but also other traditional craftspeople who lived in and around Sandur. Today, about 500 artisans work with SKKK. It has helped twenty self-help groups to become active. And local craftspeople are benefiting from, and growing with, the organisation.
SKKK owes its existence to the initiative and involvement of the Sandur Manganese and Iron Ores Limited (SMIORE) and its Chairman Emeritus, M.Y. Ghorpade, who also held the portfolios of Finance Minister and Minister of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj in the Karnataka government. SKKK’s objectives were manifold: encouraging the revival of indigenous crafts, ensuring a better life for the people who made them, finding new markets and making the crafts more relevant to modern tastes. The society is actively involved in the process of production, marketing and development activities of the artisans and crafts like cane & bamboo, stone & wood carving, traditional hand block printing, natural dyeing etc. National and State awards are becoming a habit of SKKK’s Lambani craftswomen. More than twenty self help groups are actively working for SKKK.
Certifications and Awards
- Geographical Indication No.134 registration dated: 09/09/2008 as “Sandur Lambani Embroidery”
- Craftmark certification from the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Association, New Delhi (AIACA).
- Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts Products in South Asia, 2004 & 2012, by UNESCO-CCI.
- National Award from President of India, 2002, for Banjara Embroidery Wall-hanging by Smt. Shanta Bai Kallahalli.
- Craft Council of India – Kamala Devi Award for contribution to the crafts field to (2014) Smt. Shanta Bai Kallahalli
- National Excellence Award from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (KVIC), 2004, for Banjara Embroidery by Smt. Gowri Bai Ambu.
- Karnataka State Award, 2004, for Banjara Embroidery by Smt. Sithavva.
- National Merit Certificate 2013 from Ministry of Textiles, GoI, New Delhi for Banjara Wall-hanging by Smt. Ghamani Bai
- Crafts Council of India, Chennai.
- Crafts Council of Karnataka, Bengaluru.
- Dastkar—A Society for Crafts and Craftspeople, New Delhi.
- Dastkari Haat Samiti, New Delhi
- Aid to Artisans, USA.
- Trade Craft, UK.
- Asian Heritage Foundation, New Delhi.
- Fair Trade Forum – India, New Delhi
- All India Artisans and Craftworkers Association (AIACA), New Delhi
- A Hundred Hands, Bengaluru
- Gocoop-crafting change, Bengaluru
- Adwaya Weaves, Bengaluru
- KSHDC Ltd.(Cauvery), GoK, Bengaluru
- VTPC, GoK, Bengaluru
- KVIB, GoK, Bengaluru
- NABARD, Bengaluru
- DIC,GoK, Ballari
- Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, GoI, Bengaluru
- Silk Mark of India, Ministry of Textiles, GoI, Bengaluru
- CSTRI, Ministry of Textiles, GoI, Dharwad
- Geographical Indications Registry, Chennai
- DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce & industry, GoI, New Delhi
- TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI, New Delhi
- KVIC, Ministry of MSME, GoI, New Delhi
- Khadi & Village Industries Commission ( KVIC), Ministry of MSME, GoI, Mumbai