Traditional furnaces keeps Kashmiris warm in winter.
The state of Kashmir experiences cold winters. The temperatures drop to below zero and there is frequent snowfall. (The lowest temperature recorded yesterday was -7). To keep warm in this freezing weather, every Kashmiri likes to have a warm kangri as a companion.
The kangri is a traditional furnace made from an earthern pot called kondul which is covered with a encasement of wicker. The pot is filled with hot coal or dung. When lit, the embers give out a soothing warmth. These pots are popular all over the Kashmir valley and the craftsmen who make them do brisk business in winter. Shortly before the cold season, the weaving of the basket is undertaken by farmers who have already harvested thier crops and left thier land to fallow.
The kangris are part and parcel of Kashmir’s fascinating culture. Sources say that it was the Italians who visited Kashmir during the Mughal period (1526-1764) who introduced the kangri to the Kashmiris. It has since become part of the local color. At weddings, the bride offers a special Kangri to her in-laws as a gift. There are even songs in the Kashmiri language that serenade the kangri.
Kashmir is a state that faces frequent power outages in the event of which, the modern heater is yet another failed appliance. But the quaint handmade kangri which can be tucked inside one’s blanket or coat proves to be a practical and affordable solution for every Kashmiri to beat the harsh winters.