it is befitting that god would be omnipresent at a destination called manglam. this cosy handicrafts boutique has idols on display upfront, and also in sight in its various nooks and almost covert cervices. the idols are both tiny and large in size, and while it may be sheer blasphemy to even suggest that size matters in this case, lord ganesha presides most dominantly here; he is the clear favorite as his is the biggest collection.
take your pick - pay the beloved trunked lord reverence in his different 'avatars' (brass, marble, limestone, wood, silver and, most remarkably, pure jade stone) as he stands, sits, even lies sprawled (reading a book), his characteristic effervescence shining through his carved features.
you can window-shop at manglam - pay homage to any of these idols of lord ganesha, and those of the other gods (like lord krishna) - or purchase one and pay tribute to the boutique's cash register. or simply continue browsing through the sturdy racks, laden as they are with interesting artwork.
the ground level is densely packed with miscellaneous decorative items, such as brass statues, black metal vases laced with brass and silver filigree, hukkas, colorful paper maiche photo frames, coasters made with marble, limestone jewelry boxes, even antique-style telephones and quirky clocks shaped like tortoises. do look up; the walls are also embellished, with good luck charms.
a special room is devoted to clothing and bedding. kurtis hang off a rack and dress material (the chikan work was a whopping rs. 5,000) lines up the shelves, while a modest collection of jewels - rope after rope of precious stone neck pieces, earrings from jaipur et al - twinkle from their beds of cotton nearby. their collection of bedding is unusual, too; you can buy hand-painted bed covers for rs. 500 and above.
more home furnishings crawl out of the woodwork on the dimly-lit first floor. there are thick piles of threaded, beaded wall hangings, cushion covers (you can buy one for rs. 120 or more) stoles in several fabrics and colors, pashmina shawls and carpets vying for your attention.
what commands it though is the traditional oil painting of a woman that dominates the room from a height. again, size has little to do with it, though the painting is mammoth. full of old world charm, it is very reminiscent of the canvases of sari-clad women painted by the famous raja ravi verma.
like this painting, manglam is a treasure trove of a few other unique pieces, especially those of furniture, made exquisitely with silver and with wood (from jaipur). these are, to put it simply and obviously, very expensive.
but handicraft lovers on a budget need not feel discouraged, as they just may in similar handicrafts stores such as the more upmarket the bombay store
. there seems to be no dearth of reasonably-priced items at manglam, such as a brass bust of lord ganesha for rs. 130, or the customary good luck charm for rs. 150.
if you are still confused, do approach the knowledgeable and polite sales staff for help. and then again, there's always the good lord.