North Kashmir district Bandipora’s Kaloosa village is known for Kang’ir making as most of the people in the village are associated with the business. Kang’ir is a traditional earthen pot covered with a wicker basket. It is filled with coal embers used by people during winters to keep warm.
Kashmir’s kangri: How residents beat the cold using traditional portable heaters in the Valley The kangri, or kanger as it is locally known, is filled with embers and held against the body under a pheran, an overgarment unique to Kashmir, for providing warmth. Kashmiris call the kangri a mobile heater as it can be carried along anywhere under the pheran. Some keep the fire-pot under the blanket until it makes the bedding warm enough for sleeping comfortably and then remove it.
These local inventions, cherished by Kashmiris, keep serving the people of this beautiful land despite the onslaught of modern-day heating appliances in recent years. Kangris not only keep Kashmiris warm during the winter months but also feed thousands of families by providing them with livelihoods.
“Making kangris, besides other wicker items, has sustained our family for decades,” Ghulam Mohammed Ganie, a kangri-maker from Kuloosa village in Bandipora district, told this Correspondent “I enjoy doing it as long as I get buyers.”
There are three different types of kangri, used by different social classes. The Islamabad kangri, the most common type of kangri in Kashmir, has a broad base and a wide-mouthed pot. These cost around Rs 200 and are largely used by people who engage in outdoor work and need higher heat levels. The middle-class use what is called the Bandipora kangri, which costs about Rs 300 per pot and is made of wicker with a finer weave. Most of these are made in the Bandipora district of north Kashmir, about 60km from the summer capital Srinagar. The Chrar kangri, a slim, decorated pot with minute wickerwork, is the most expensive variety and can cost Rs 300-500. A version of the Chrar kangri, dressed with silver chains, traditionally accompanies Kashmiri brides as dower.
Anyone visiting Kashmir in winter will find kangris across the valley, despite differences in culture, social status, and dialect. Kashmiris believe the kangri is the most apt heating arrangement in a place where temperatures dip to sub-zero between the months of December and February.