Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery

Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery


Udayagiri Cutlery: A Cultural Heritage and Craftsmanship in Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh




Udayagiri wooden cutlery is a testament to the fact that art can make even the most mundane and ordinary aspects of everyday life beautiful. Consisting of finely carved spoons, forks, knives and bowls, it is one of the rare traditional artforms which is as utilitarian as it is decorative. It is a regal way to enhance one’s mealtimes. And no wonder! It was developed by local artisans of Udayagiri under the patronage of the royal families of the region.

But before we delve deeper into the art form, first let’s go into the fascinating background of the place which nurtured and gave birth to this amazing traditional craft.

Udayagiri is a small city in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. Its first documented history starts from the 14th Century, during which it was the local kingdom of the Gajapatis of Odisha. In fact it was their chieftain, LangujaGajapati, who built the iconic Udayagiri fort. After the Gajapatis, Udayagiri was under the rule of Krishnadevaraya of the Vijaynagar kingdom. Subsequently, it came under the rule of chieftains of Golconda and then the Nawabs of Arcot who granted the title of jagir to Mustafa Ali Khan. Mustafa Ali Khan’s descendants controlled the region till 1839. It was during this rule of nawabs and jagirs that highly-decorated wooden cutlery became popular.


Udayagiri wooden cutlery consists of forks, spoons, knives, bowls, etc. carved beautifully with Persian-inspired motifs.

The craft is around 150 years old and has been passed on from artisan to artisan over generations. Udayagiri wooden cutlery was earlier a male-dominated craft, however, in recent years, mostly females are involved in the design and development of this elegant craft.


The wood of Udayagiri wooden cutlery is especially sourced from the Durgampalli hills located nearby. The forests in this region are home to trees with a very fine quality of wood.

To make the carving easy and more intricate, soft wood like nardi, devadari, bikki chakka, kaldi chakka, and palabarki is used. Out of these, nardi and bikki chakka wood are the most commonly used for small cutlery pieces since these woods are softer. Larger cutlery pieces and bowls are made of harder wood like devadari or the more expensive kaldi chakka.

The Making of Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery

Udayagiri wooden cutlery is made by carefully processing beautiful fine-quality wood from the forest of Durgampalli hills. It is then carefully processed by the artisans and shaped into the smooth silhouettes of Udayagiri wooden cutlery. The handles of spoons and forks and edges of bowls and utensils are carved in intricate Persian-style patterns.

Here is a closer look into the process of making Udayagiri wooden cutlery:

1. Wood Procurement:

The first step into making the Udayagiri wooden cutlery is the procurement of wood from the Durgampalli forests nearby. As discussed before, softer woodlike nardi and bikki chakka is used for small cutlery pieces while harder woodlike devadari or kaldi chakka is used for making larger cutlery and bowls.

Depending on the requirement, the artisans carefully select blocks of wood and take it home for further steps.

2. Processing and Seasoning:

The large wooden blocks are kept in a dry place for about ten days for drying. They are then soaked in water again and redried. Afterwards, they are cut into smaller blocks based on the artisan’s requirement.

The next step is pretty unique. These smaller blocks are completely wound with jute string which is kept in place with a heavy stone on top of it. This helps the wood to become drier, softer and more suitable for carving.

3. Shaping and Cutting:

The smaller wooden blocks are unwound from the jute threads. Marking is done on the blocks in the shape of the cutlery that would be made out of it.

A basic shape is then skillfully carved out of the wooden block with the help of a chisel, locally known as the goruli. This chiseling has to be done very carefully as the wood is soft and can break easily.

4. Carving:

Now is the time for the artisans of Udayagiri wooden cutlery to actually apply their magic! With the use of simple tools, like chisel (uli), file (golkaadi), drills, nails, etc., they carve out unbelievably intricate patterns in the wood. Some carving patterns are amini, khajuri, kangura and, perhaps the most beautiful, Dargah ki jaali. For making holes, drills and nails are used. As per Zakeer Shaikh, the entire process involves only 10% machine-work and 90% hand-work.

5. Finishing:

Finishing is the final stage of the production of Udayagiri Wooden cutlery. For small and delicate Udayagiri wooden cutlery pieces, finishing is done with files, while a paper finishing machine is used for larger pieces.

Inspiring Artisans:

Udayagiri wooden cutlery is a 150 year old history which has seen a lot of ups and downs. It was at the peak of its splendor during the rule of the royals in Andhra Pradesh. But in modern times, the rise of plastic and mechanisation led to a substantial decrease in its popularity. The artform would have been lost had it not been recognised as a GI product in 2017 by the Government of India. Equally, if not more important to its survival, are inspiring artisans who worked extremely hard to revive their beloved artform.

Artisan Zakeer Shaikh, is a fourth-generation Udayagiri wooden cutlery artisan who gave up a steady well-paying job to learn this amazing craft from his mother Chousia Begum. State award winner Chousia Begum is one of the few artisans, who seeing the endangered future of her ancestral craft, took the initiative to revive it by training 90+ women in the artform. This article has also been written with the information and photographs provided by Zakeer Shaikh. You can take a look at some of his beautiful Udayagiri wooden cutlery products below and contact him through the information provided below.

One District One Product Initiative: Product list

One District One Product Initiative: Action plan Report

Action Plan for development of ODOP in Nellore District:
1. Identify & map the unique district product that can be commercially positioned and linked to markets – domestically & for exports. Rationalize the product and establish blue-print for product development.
2. Identify inputs on design, packaging, branding & logistics & facilitate interventions to standardize product quality and bring scale to meet National and International needs (Ex: One Tambon One Product – Thailand) – Prepare approach plan District wise focusing on the products and commodities value chain.
3. Roadmap for Training and Up-Skilling in the identified cluster/product.
4. Establish Market Linkages (Digital E-Marketing/B2B/B2C Transactions; Direct procurement/gather market intelligence & trends)
5. Build Mechanism to converge all GoI Schemes (MSME-CDP; SFURTI; Coir Vikas Yojana; CLCS for tech upgradation; ASPIRE; Design Clinics to name a few. Build District Cluster/Product capacities to meet international standards.
6. Identify Key performance indicators/Parameters for regular monitoring and ensure value garnered.
7. Constitute a ‘District Level Committee’ Chaired by District Collector with all relevant departments as members.
8. Setting up of Targets at cluster level in terms of a) Products Promoted b) Enhancement in Income c) Improved Market access.
9. Cross Sectoral collaborations with associations and experts: CII; MSME Associations; Amazon/Flipkart and leading E-Commerce players are keen to explore this.

Details of District Nodal Officer, Nodal Department and dedicated team for ODOP

District Nodal Officer: Nodal Department:

Sri A. Anand Kumar,

 Assistant Director of Handlooms and Textiles,

 Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore District.

Department Of Handlooms and Textiles,

 Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore District.

Dedicated Team for ODOP

Sl. No. Name Disignation Contact Number
1 Md. Shafi Ahamed Deputy Director (Industries) 9440397127
2 Smt K. Madhavi Latha Development Officer 9490788502
3 Sri P. Prasadarao Assistant Development Officer 8790596503

Dedicated helpline or Call Centre / Support desk for ODOP

Sl. No. Name Disignation Contact Number
1 Md. Shafi Ahamed Deputy Director (Industries) 9440397127
2 Sri P. Prasadarao Assistant Development Officer 8790596503

List of activities being undertaken by District Administration under ODOP initiative

Collector & District Magistrate, SPS Nellore has released an amount of Rs.10.00 Lakhs as Grant in aid for purchase of Machinery for improvement in production and quality of Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery on 19th Aug 2022.

Details of ODOP sensitization workshop being conducted for current stakeholders and next generation stakeholders

Three training programs conducted. Two programs for technical and designing workshops and one training for awareness of digital payment.

Usttad Training Programme UWC

15 days (6th to 20th May 2022) Design and development training program for 15 artisans (USTTAD).


Two months Handicrafts Training program for 30 artisans under SAMMARTH scheme


Two months (28.12.2021 to 28.02.2022) training program under SHE for 20 artisans for improvement of entrepreneurship, Packing and awareness of Digital payment 

List of mentors registered with District to provide mentorship to beneficiaries

Sl.No Name of the Mentor Organisation Contact
1 I. Srinivasa Rao Chaitanya Jyothi Welfare Society, Vedayapalem, Nellore City, SPS Nellore District 9885307263,
2 Shaik Zakeer Hussain Wooden Cutlery Society, Udayagiri Village & Mandal, SPS Nellore District 9492591085

Mentorship support available with clearly laid out procedures to avail the same

Andhra Pradesh Handicraft Development Corporation, Vijayawada providing Training Support and support in Sales to develop the production capacity and livelihood of the artisans.

Chaitanya Jyothi Welfare Society, Nellore, an NGO registered in the District, is providing the mentorship to the Wooden Cutlery artisans by various means and wears like skill development, design development, participation in exhibitions through central and state government departments.

Udayagiri Welfare Society, Udayagiri, SPS Nellore District is providing work to the artisans and also mentoring to avail loans from the Banks and Central and State Government Schemes.

Funding support available, with clear laid out procedures to avail the same

The Government of India is providing financial support to the Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery artisans under “Pradhana Mantri Mudra Yojana” and also implementing various welfare schemes.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh is implementing various schemes like “YSR Asara”, “Sunna Vaddi”, “YSR Cheyutha”, “Input Subsidy”, “YSR Rythu Bharosa”, ” YSR Vahana Mitra”, “YSR Pension Kanuka”, “YSR Pelli Kanuka”, “YSR Amma Vodi”, “Jagananna Vasathi Deevena”, “Jagananna Vidya Deevena”, “Jagananna Thodu”, “YSR Arogyasri”, “Chedodu” etc.,.

District Administration has supported through District Minorities Welfare Department Rs.10,00,000/- Grant in Aid program for purchasing of necessary machinery in 19.08.2022.

Details of rules, regulations, Act, Govt Schemes introduced or amended to propel the ODOP initiative in the district

Udayagiri wooden cutlery, based on the beautiful and delicate craft of Nellore, has been given the Geographical Identification tag. This is the second GI tag in Nellore district, after Venkatagiri saris in 2009.

The AP Technology Development and Promotion Centre and AP Handicrafts Development Corporation jointly applied for the GI tag on behalf of the craftsmen in March 2015. The certificate will be received in a week, officials said.

Geographical indication indicates products which come from a specific region. No producer of a similar product made elsewhere can claim the name which is covered by a GI tag.

Details of Quality Assurance Labs/Certification Labs/Processing Units/Quality Infrastructure with Contact Details

The more than 200 year old craft of Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery is shining bright as a beacon in this age when the need for environment-friendly, biodegradable, locally made, and sourced items used in the food industry has increased manifold.  Granted the Geographical Identification (GI) tag, applied jointly by the Andhra Pradesh Technology Development and Promotion Centre and Andhra Pradesh handicrafts Development Corporation, Udayagiri wooden cutlery has received a significant value addition.

There are no Quality Assurance Labs / Certification Labs / Processing Units / Quality Infrastructure available.

Details of department providing institutional support to beneficiaries availing support under ODOP initiative

The following Departments from the State and Central are providing institutional support to the Udayagiri Wooden Cutlery artisans.

Department of Minorities Welfare, Nellore, Department of Industries, District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Nellore, NABARD.

AP Handicraft Development Corporation Ltd.,  Vijayawada, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Hyderabad, National Design Corporation, Export Promotion Council for Handicraft (EPCH).