The Kangra Valley is situated in the North of India in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It nestles below the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. Breathtakingly beautiful, the Valley is rich in terracotta clay deposits. Quality, colour, and making range vary from place to place. Raw clay ranges in colour from black, red, and orange to yellow. White clay deposits are also found. Local potters use these for white slip decoration on red, smoke-fired terracotta pots.
Potters are scattered throughout the valley in villages and belong to the potters' caste. They are potters because their fathers and grandfathers were. As such they are raised to be potters and learn their pottery skills from family members.
In Kangra the potters community is dwindling fast, though the barter system is still in operation for those potters who still practice this craft. The village potter makes pots that he distributes freely to village members. Later he collects his share of the harvest. Otherwise he receives cash for his pots selling at local "melas" (festivals). These melas provided an important source of income for potters. However these days potters are rarely found at melas.
Potters generally make the usual range of domestic pottery, "ghada" (water-pot) "kadai" (cooking-pot), "chenari" (kitchen pot), "mughi" (lassi pot), "dhertari" (excellent for brewing rice beer), "buglai" (moneyboxes), "therlossi" (oil pot for massaging the baby), "martban" (pickle storage pot), "pari" (for the cow's milk), "chillums" (for smoking) "diya" (oil-lamp), and more. There is a village called Dheera in Kangra where the speciality of the potters is that they use their own seal to distinguish their pots. Their seals have been in use for generations and they take great pride in this. Unfortunately these potters’ families are also disappearing very fast with the changing world as people switch to plastic, aluminum, and steel.
Kangra is 400 km from Delhi and can be reached by air, train or road