A unique metal which is a harmonious blend of tin and copper, bell metal reflects the elegance of a craft, the tradition of which dates back to several centuries. Typified by its sonorous quality when struck, bell metal provides a fine medium for the craftsmen to cast both religious artifacts as well as domestic utensils.
Mannar, a small town by the side of Pampa River between Mavelikkara and Thiruvalla in Alappuzha district of Kerala state, is well known for its association with bell metal. Mannar has been in the mercantile maps of Kerala for quite a long time. Take a stroll through the comforting constrains of this Bell metal town and soon you will observe all your attention being absorbed by the gleam of bell metal utensils.
Crowded with an assortment of traditional alas or forges Mannar has been engaged in this business for centuries. The artisans of these alas produce an array of bell metal products that include household utensils like Uruli (a wide mouthed vessel), Nilavilakku (a wick lamp), Kindi (a spouted pitcher) and idols of Hindu Gods like Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and Goddess Lakshmi. These elegant artifices over the years have crossed the Arabian Sea to spread the fame of this small town and to capture a range of markets in different parts of the world.This inimitable fame that Mannar has acquired through years is further etched for permanence in some extraordinary artifices. They include the world's biggest Varpu (wide cauldron) now displayed at the Crafts Museum in New Delhi; the world's biggest temple lamp at Chettikulangara Devi temple; the world's biggest temple bell at Mohan Nagar temple in Shimla; the world's biggest church bell at the Cathedral Church in New Delhi, and the replica of the famous Tree of Life and Knowledge, now kept in a museum in Chennai.