Amroha is a small town in North West Uttar Pradesh, close to Moradabad. If you are driving from Delhi you have to take NH 24 and drive for about 100-110 km’s and you reach this small town. I happened to visit it for a family function. Though I must admit that June is a perfectly wrong time to visit this area. Dholaks of Amroha was a surprise discovery for me.
Amroha got its name from Aam i.e. Mango and Ruha which is a variety of fish that is found in abundance here. We did pick up a whole lot of Mangoes. But being a vegetarian obviously did not look out for the fishes. Before this trip, my only association of Amroha was the writer Kamaal Amrohi who hailed from this town.
Dholaks of Amroha
Like I always say if you go with an open mind, most trips would offer you a surprise and often a pleasant one. On this trip, I discovered that this small town is actually the hub of manufacturing Dholaks and Tablas. There are numerous small-scale manufacturing units that produce Dholaks and other percussion instruments. They use the wood from Mango and Sheesham trees to carve out the multiple sized and shaped hollow blocks. Which are later fitted with animal skin, mostly goatskin, to create the instrument?
The manufacturing is completely manual and simple. Each piece of wood cut and chopped and then carved and cut, followed by fixing the skin and then painting. It’s a small scale industry with each unit producing about 100 instruments a day. But the town as a whole produces somewhere around five to six thousand instruments. They distribute these instruments across the country. And also export it to all major geographies. Being small scale they fall under handicrafts, and hence do not have to pay any taxes on the products they sell.
You can walk around in the bylanes and see the instruments being manufactured everywhere. Some do only parts of the instrument, some do the whole and sum just assemble it and market it. Being a Muslim dominated area, there are lots of master craftsmen, who show their craft in making these musical pieces. It is amazing to see this place buzzing with all kinds of musical instruments. There are other handicrafts as well that come from this place like carpets or Kaaleens and wooden toys.
On the way to Amroha, you can also stop by Garh Mukteshwar on the banks of River Ganga. It is a place of religious importance where lots of Hindus come to take a dip in the holy Ganga. There is an ancient temple which has Shivalingas from ancient times, which have mythological stories associated with them.
I am not sure if I can recommend a trip to this place. But if you are passing by, you can probably stop by for few hours and have a peep into this town.