They carve stones for a livelihood

Situated on the Rajasthan-Haryana border, barely 30 kilometres from Alwar, Ramgarh is a small tehsil town. Unlike the dry parts of the desert state, Ramgarh catches the eye of visitors with its lush green fields. But the greenery alone is not its distinct identity. What makes Ramgarh special is the stone craft practiced by the locals, mainly marble stone carving.

If one walks through the town, it appears like an open art gallery. From all the gods and goddesses to statues of martyrs and decorative pieces to unfinished marble slabs, the lanes of Ramgarh have so much to offer.

The town with a 25,000 population has nearly 1,500 families involved in stone crafting or terracotta. The Pink City is proud to have the best of stone carvers in Rajasthan but it is a lesser known fact that Ramgarh too has a lot of talents. If Jaipur is number one, then Ramgarh comes next, says Ved Prakash Arya.

He says Ramgarh in a way is carrying forward the legacy of the Jaipur stone crafters. He himself learnt the art in Jaipur along with his team of 20 persons nearly four decades ago. We belong to the Adigaur community and the Jaipur artisans are our relatives.

What we learnt in Jaipur, was taught to our other family members in Ramgarh.  Earlier, our Jaipur brethren sort of outsourced our services to catch up with the growing demands of the market.

But now Ramgarh has earned its own name and buyers directly contact us, according to Satish. He learnt idol making from his brother and the legacy passes on to the next generation in the Adigaur community of Ramgarh.

The Ramgarh statues are mainly made of white marble.  They also use black or red stone as per the demands of buyers.  The most popular idols remain that of lord Rama, Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Hanuman, goddess Durga, Kali and Saraswati.  After Kargil, there was a spate of orders for statues of martyrs.

Idol making needs perfection, concentration and dedication.  “khandit murti ka koi mahatva nahin hota” (a damaged idol is of no value), so one has to be very careful.  It is a delightful experience to see an  idol taking shape and coming alive in true colours  -- but cutting the marble and working with the marble dust and noise is a painful job.

We have no separate cluster and we toil hard amidst complaints from neighbours following the noise and the marble dust billowing in the atmosphere. As for themselves, they have an indigenous method of fighting with marble dust allergy and lung infection, says Arya. Jaggery is an essential dietary supplement in all seasons, he adds. He lamented the lack of interest by the young generation and felt if the traditional skill could be combined with innovative techniques at governmental level, Ramgarh could establish an unsurpassable reputation in the idol making market.

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