My first encounter with the town of Firozabad happened years ago when I visited the place to attend the wedding of a friend. The tinkling of glass bangles was on my mind all the way from Delhi to Firozabad.
With limited knowledge about the 'glass city of India’, I entered Firozabad, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. It was during this visit I came to know that Firozabad is a major hub of manufacturing not just glass bangles but numerous glass-based products that we all use in our daily lives. In fact, Firozabad caters to almost 80% of the world’s need for glassware.
It is recorded in history that many years ago invaders brought several glass articles with them to India. These glass articles when rejected or broken were collected and melted in locally made furnaces. These rejected glass items were melted to create only bangles and small bottles in those times. The bangles that were manufactured had no joint, and were called ‘Kadechhal Ki Chudi’. The glass industry later developed and expanded and started making colourful glass lamps and chandeliers, which adorned the royal courts and palaces. All this laid the foundation of the Glass industry in Firozabad. Earlier these industries were known to manufacture only simple glassware products but today all types of glass articles, including jars, candle stands, glasses, flower vases, and electric wares such as decorative lights, bulbs, etc. are prepared in the city. These decorative articles are painted with bright colours and innovative designs are made on them. The etching is done on some products to enhance their beauty. Some of these products are also decorated by fixing other colourful material on them.
The products manufactured at the glass factories at Firozabad can be mainly classified under:
Home décor: Decorative pieces like toys, candle-stands, vegetables and fruit models, mini-trees, statues of birds, animals, personalities, Gods and Goddesses are made here.
Utility ware: Firozabad glass industry has been actively manufacturing drinking glasses, beer glasses, wine glasses, dinner sets, bowls, plates, lemon-sets, pudding sets, etc. in striking cuttings and beautiful designs.
Chandeliers: The chandeliers in different shapes, sizes and colours are manufactured at Firozabad. Earlier used to adorn the courts and palaces of royalty, these continue to charm the modern household as well.
Glass Bangles: Glass bangles, kangans and karas for women are made in Firozabad since ancient period. These bangles continue to charm all women across the world.
Glass hardware: Different articles for home and office décor are manufactured here. Glassware for scientific and laboratory purposes like beakers, flasks, test tubes, containers, etc are also manufactured in Firozabad.
Lighting wares: Glass accessories for automobiles and homes like light bulbs, battery bulbs, high voltage power bulbs, domestic bulbs and tube lights are manufactured here.
Glass beads: Firozabad is known as the world capital for beads that are exported to different parts of the world. These beads are used in clothing, accessories, decorative items, jewellery, bags, shoes, etc.
In order to cater to all these, Firozabad has more than six thousand smaller glass manufacturing units. However, as per the official data, 400 glassware manufacturing units making different types of glass products and employing almost 50,000 families are registered in Firozabad.
Due to the lack of availability of the latest technology, lack of innovative and modern techniques to melt, form and shape the glass, and easy availability of inexpensive and unbreakable plastic, Firozabad glass witnessed a decline in the world market.
With an aim to promote the Glass industry and save the livelihood of thousands of workers working at the glass factories of Firozabad, the government is taking steps to ensure that these glass products are recognized all over the world. With the motive to bring the charm and shine back to this city of glass, Geographical Indication (G.I) status is given to Firozabad Glass in 2014.