Wooden Mask of

Kushmandi

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Wooden Mask at

Kushmandi

25.52° N, 88.36° E

Kushmandi can be reached from Kolkata by both rail and road. The nearest railway station Kaliyaganj is 17 km away from Kushmandi. The place is also well connected by NBSTC buses. The total travel time by road from Kolkata is around 9 hours and from Siliguri is around 5 hours. Bagdogra airport is 185 km away from Kushmandi. Visitors may hire a car that costs Rs. 400-500 from the Kaliyaganj station to reach Kushmandi. Frequent bus service is also available.

Kushmandi block in Dakshin Dinajpur and Kaliyaganj block in Uttar Dinajpur district are the hubs of Gomira mask making. Around 250 artists live in these two blocks mainly concentrated in the villages like Mahishbathan, Sabdalpur, Beldanga, Ushaharan, Madhupur, Berail, Deyabandh, Mangaldaha, Hat Kaliyaganj etc. Majority have school level education and have some agricultural land. Making mask is a secondary livelihood for majority. There has been an increase in number of young people making masks in past decade.

The Village of the Dancing Masks, Dakshin Dinajpur

There are several places worth visiting around Kushmandi. These are, Bangarh where one finds the ruins of the ancient city which was the administrative centre of Kotivarsha Vishaya (territorial division), in the period of Chandras, Varmans and Senas. The citadel area revealed 5 cultural phases dating from the time of the Mauryas to the medieval period. Mahipal Dighi is a manmade lake where migratory birds flock in during winter months. There is the ruin of ‘Neelkothi’ – bungalow of the infamous indigo (Neel) cultivator who was a close friend of William Kerry. The Aira forest, 2 kms from Mahipal dighi is also a wonderful retreat from urban life. There is a mythological tree which stands there by the name of ‘Shami Brikhshya’.  It is said that the Pandavas hid their arms in the bushes of this tree.

Every year in the end of October the craft persons of Kushmandi celebrate their annual festival Mukha Mela where visitors get to see the dance and craft in their pristine forms. The next edition of the mela will be celebrated on October 27 - 29, 2017. The Gomira dance festival is held within the months of Baishakh-Jaistha-Asharh, corresponding to mid-April to mid-July. One can stay at the Resource Centre at Mahishbathan amongst the artisans and experience their craft. A Community Museum has been developed to showcase the the Gomira masks made by local artists. Visitors can also stay at hotels and lodges in Kaliaganj.

 

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The Common Facility Centre at Kushmandi

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The Community Museum

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The Mukha Mela at Kushmandi

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The workshop at mela ground at kushmandi

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Mahipal Dighi is a tourist destination

 

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Mahishbathan Gramin Hasta Silpa Samabay Samity Ltd.

Proprietor: Cooperative Society
Contact Person: Paresh Chandra Sarkar
Secretary, Mahishbathan Gramin Hasta Silpa Samabay Samity Limited

Address: Mahishbathan Gramin Hasta Silpa Samabay Samity Limited,
Village: Mahishbathan,
P.O.: Manikore, PS: Kushmundi,
District: Dakshin Dinajpur, Pin: 733132
Email: rch.woodenmask.kushmandi@gmail.com 

Mahishbathan Gramin Hasta Silpa Samabay Samity Ltd. was formed in 1985 with the goal of generating alternative livelihood option for local community. The Samity has around 150 crafts persons as members and plays a key role in mobilising collective enterprise, market linkage and promotion. The society has a Resource Centre building of its own with common work space, guest rooms, dormitory and meeting hall. The Samity provides support to the artisans by providing them with design skills, raw material and working capital support, market linkage etc. It also organises collaborative workshops with young designers from design institutes involving the local artists. The annual festival of the Wooden Mask artists Mukha Mela is organised and operated by the Samity.

Phone: 9733462109

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