Handicrafts in Uttar Pradesh, Chikankari from Lucknow, Ferozabad’s glassware, leather goods of Kanpur, Varanasi’s gorgeous silk etc. You can get these and more at a microcosm of UP – the Nauchandi Mela in Meerut. It is more than a century old, a month-long extravaganza of handicrafts, food, and all the noise and hoi polloi of a rustic Indian fair that begins on the second Sunday after Holi.

Nauchandi Mela (Image Courtesy Ravindra Merthi)

Nauchandi Mela (Image Courtesy Ravindra Merthi)

Some say it started as a cattle fair, dating back to 1672, some say it was a revenue collection fair while others believe that it began as a commemoration of the building of a temple in Meerut by Mandodari, consort of Ramayana’s Ravana.

History apart it is one of the biggest, dustiest, most colorful fairs. It is held on a 4 sq km area, jammed with its broad spectrum of color and sound and scents and scenes. The space is populated by hundreds of stalls selling drapes, perfumes, jewellery, furniture, ceramics, glassware, leather – what not.  Ferris wheels, traveling circuses, acrobats, local version of the vuvuzelas – small but equally potent, nautankis and classical renditions all add to the crescendo of cacophony. Performances of Hindustani classical music have added importance with maestros such as Pandit Ravi Shankar being among those who have performed.

Historic ‘Nauchandi Mela’ is famous as a symbol of Hindu-Muslim Unity. Dargah of ‘Hazrat Bale Mian’ and the Temple of ‘Navchandi Devi’ are situated facing each other. During this ‘mela’ , sound of the temple bells and the Azan from the mosque situated at the shrine of Bale mian creates a ‘spiritual echo’. Nauchandi mela is also famous for its favourite dish “Halwa Parantha”.

Famous Halwa Paratha (Image Courtesy Kanfuski)

Famous Halwa Paratha (Image Courtesy Kanfuski)

So whatever you are – a compulsive shopper, a businessman or craftsman or a culture-vulture looking for a great experience- the Nauchandi Mela is worth a go. A dip into a microcosm of India’s cultural boiling pot or just a dusty interlude?  You decide.

In 2011, Nauchandi Mela will be held on 27 March in the town of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.

Toshali Tours and Travels, recognised by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, offer an exclusive budget accommodation and travel package to take you to “Nauchandi Mela”. For Reservation and Booking visit at http://bit.ly/fCK2U8 . Contact your Travel Desk Consultant “Metu” for more information on “Nauchandi Festival” at metu@toshali.in