A symbol of courage and enterprise
by the rural women of the
Panchachuli is the name of a Himalayan range situated in the North East of Uttarakhand, close to the border with Tibet and Nepal. Traditionally, the inhabitants of this high altitude region were trans Himalayan traders and had socio economic ties with Tibet. The women stayed back and wove fine handloom shawls in Tibetan cashmere and sheep wool. The matriarch of the Johar Sauka community, Rukmini Devi, inspired the women living in the lowlands near Almora to learn the fine art of spinning and weaving. Years of intensive training followed by reviving the trade with Tibet for procuring cashmere in the region of Kailash Manasarovar resulted in the formation of a 350 women strong not for profit Company called Panchachuli Women Weavers of Kumaon.
Panchachuli employs skilled rural women for production of high quality handlooms, and also imparts training to village women from time to time. The company runs through a credit limit with a bank and the income from sales is sufficient to make panchachuli a viable and sustainable enterprise for women in the mountains. The Panchachuli model has been replicated in the Kedarnath valley where 300 women affected by the disastrous floods there in 2013 have formed Mandakini Women Weavers ( www.mandakini.in ).
Panchachuli has five retail outlets in Uttarakhand and a growing domestic and international market for its products, which include the USA, UK, Germany, and Australia.