As spring glides in, full of warmth and vibrancy leaving the gray winter behind, Surajkund adorns itself with colorful traditional crafts of India. Craftsmen from all over the country assemble at Surajkund during the first fortnight of February to participate in the annual celebration known as the Surajkund Crafts Mela. This Mela (fair) is a meeting ground for talented artists, painters, weavers, sculptors and craftsmen form all over India who exhibit their creations for the arts and crafts lovers who come from the world over to admire and acquire these creations.
Surajkund (literally, 'Lake of the Sun') is a dusty little town in Haryana, on the outskirts of Delhi. For two weeks every year, on February 1-15, it gets transformed into a sprawling and comprehensive craftsmen's village. The Surajkund Mela is not just the biggest artisans' fair in the country; it is also unique in that every year there is a different theme to the fair. So, nobody can say, "I've been to it," and ignore this celebration of the essence of Indian culture and traditional crafts.
Surajkund is a historic site, eight km from the southern border of Delhi. The Sun temple stood here during AD 1000, the remains of which can still be seen here. The temple and the enchanting surroundings of this place won the heart of a Tomar chieftain Surajpal, who belonged to a clan of sun worshippers. Raja Surajpal had a sun pool and amphitheatre built in this area with the sun temple at its periphery. After the chieftain Surajpal, who built the complex, the place was named Surajkund.
It was around this temple and sun pool that a resort property came up in Surajkund. What began as simple tourist center in 1987 flowered into a center of pilgrimage and a haloed piece of land that celebrates centuries old crafts and traditions of our colorful country at the annual Surajkund Crafts Mela. The Special Attractions
This delightful handloom and handicrafts fair is held annually at Surajkund. Skilled Artisans from all over the country display the rich crafts tradition of India in the typical setting of a rural Indian marketplace. Cultural programmes and rural cuisine are also a part of this colorful fair.
The theme that changes every year, works on two levels. First, it has a state theme, which dictates the look of the entrance, the fair grounds, and the setting. One can get the specific ambience of the particular state-the characteristic colors, materials, architecture, furniture and decorations. The other is less cosmetic and more purposeful-each year highlights one craft, and about half the stalls are dedicated to that craft. And there are a total of about 400 stalls. So, if the theme is pottery/terracotta, it has stalls that display the various kinds of pottery and clay craft available in the country. The stalls also function as workshops, where artisans from all over the country make their wares: pots, vases, urns, molded images, trinkets.
Apart from this, there are stalls that cater to the other crafts, where again one gets first-hand experience of how the artisans work and how things are made. Woodwork, metalwork, papier-mache, weaving, embroidery, sculpture, and bamboo and cane craft are all featured at the Mela.
A fair of this magnitude would naturally have supplementary interests. So, one has an equally interesting food section that serves a variety of Indian cuisines, which is traditional although there are several stalls selling fast food like burgers and chow mien too. Apart from that, there is the usual gamut of entertainment-rides and shows for kids, and daylong cultural events, including folk dance and music recitals, with stress on the state theme. The potter's wheel always holds a special enchantment for visitors as the artisans mould pots and pans with their deft fingers.
The crafts in the Surajkund Mela are the creation of people coming from the remotest parts of the country. The craftwork of the people rain forest area of Assam and Manipur, the deserts of Rajasthan, the Nilgiri hills of south, the tribal lands of Bastar and from all the other areas come here to display their aesthetic pieces of work.
The story of how the sun pool came into existence is an interesting tale. Over a thousand years ago, the clan of Tomar chieftains began establishing their supremacy near Delhi. They built their domain here, calling it 'Dellikha'. The Tomars were sun worshippers. One chieftain Raja Surajpal worked to build a sun temple at this site. Legend has it, that it was after this Raja that the place came to be known as Surajkund. But the Tomar kings could not stay here for long. Mauraders vanquished the Tomar clan and desecrated the temple. But the amphitheatre sun pool built adjacent withstood the onslaught of time to become the celebrated fair ground that it is today.
The Surajkund Crafts Mela is held in the picturesque Surajkund Tourist complex of Haryana Tourism. The complex is eight km from south Delhi, the national capital and a drive from the Indira Gandhi International Airport would take approximately 35 minutes.
Surajkund is well connected to Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad district head quarter towns by road. It is approachable by tour coaches, tourist taxis and other public conveyance.
The nearest Airport is at Delhi. The complex is 35 minutes drive from the Indira Gandhi International Airport and 25 km from Palam Airport
Delhi is the nearest Railway junction. Faridabad and Gurgaon are both linked to Delhi through Railway lines. From each of these stations travel to Surajkund has to be done by cab/tourist coach. During the Mela period, special transport services link the main shopping centers and interstate bus stands of Delhi, Gurgaon and Faridabad to the Mela grounds.