What are Kolhapuri Chappal?
Kolhapuri Chappal are the best known chappals in the world. The popular Urdu sandals are hand-crafted slippers originating from Kolhapur. A city on the western side of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Kapashi, Paytaan. Kachkadi and Pukari and some other areas which have also put their names to the chappal.
Kolhapuri Chappals are a traditional Indian sandal which will look great paired up with a Saree or a Kurta.
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Kolhapuri Chappal are easy to buy in India as they are a popular type of footwear there. Yet they are not so easy to get hold of in the UK and the range of available styles in the UK is fairly small.
Some of the best Kolhapuri Chappal currently available for quick delivery to the UK can be seen in the table above.
Different Types of Kolhapuri
There are a number of different types of Kolhapuri available, as well as many similar regional variations of the sandal which you will find in regions throughout Eastern Asia. Typically genuine Kolhapuri Chappals will be in one of the following three styles:
- Regular Kolhapuri – These are the standard Kolhapuri and are a regular weight. These are the most common form of the sandal.
- Paper Kapsi – These are extremely light weight version of the slipper made with a thinner sole and thinner leather, they are designed to be worn indoors only.
- Jada – A heavier and thicker version of the traditional Kolhapuri which are designed to last longer. The sole can be so thick that it can weigh more than two kilograms!
How Are Kolhapuri Chappal Made?
The process of creating a Kolhapuri can take as long as six weeks.
Kolhapuri Chappal are made from tanned leather which is made from the skin of Buffalo, Goat or Bulls (cow leather is not used for religious reasons). The leather hide is washed twice to remove all dirt and blood. Then it is left in lime liquid for 10 days and the hair is removed from the hide. It is then soaked again in water to remove all traces of the lime.
The hides are soaked for two days in a liquid containing crushed myrobalan and water. After this the sides are soaked in a colouring bath.
The leather sides are stitched into a bag filled with Babal bark and Myrobalan nuts. Tan liquid and water are poured into the bag frequently for two days before the leather is sun-dried to complete the tanning process.
Strings of leather stitch together the uppers of the Chappal to the sole. A toe post is then built into the sole. Then decorations and design elements are added.
Looking after your Kolhapuri Chappals
With proper care Kolhapuris can last for a long time. However you can’t just dump them in soapy water or chuck them in the washing machine because you will irreversibly damage the leather.
If your Kolhapuri Chappal is dirty then begin by rubbing off any loose dirt with a cloth. Then get a second clean cloth and dampen it with water and a small amount of leather conditioner before carefully rubbing the dirty spots up into a lather. Once a lather has been achieved get a third moist cloth and carefully rub away the lather. Then leave them to dry, preferably in sunlight, until all moisture has left the Kolhapuri. Make sure that you don’t use them until they are thoroughly dry or you run the risk of allowing damp marks to reappear on the leather.
How to soften your Kolhapuri Chappal
Sun-drying your Kolhapuris may leave the leather feeling very tough. If this does happen you can re-soften the leather by moisturising with a leather moisturiser such as Renapur.
To moisturise your sandal first make sure that the leather is completely dry. Then rub the moisturiser over the shoe until all the leather is covered in a lather. It is then a good idea to allow the Kolhapuri shoe to sit for at least 10 hours in order to absorb the conditioner. Then clean off all excess conditioner, it is worth repeating the cleaning process a few hours later too as the leather will probably release more over time.
The History of Kolhapuri Chappal
There are a number of different ideas about the origins of the Kolhapuri Chappal:
Regardless of how true the above story is, the Dalit people began making vegetable dyed leather shoes in the early 12th century.
Recent History of the Kolhapuri Chappal
There are verifiable records that from around 1870 there were around 30 bag tanning centres in the Kolhapur region. In 1930 the Saudagar family from Kolhapur began designing and distributing a much more lightweight and finely decorated version of the Kolhapuri Chappal.
These quickly became very popular across India and their popularity has since spread across the globe.