Chamba Chappals: A Legacy of Creativity and Craftsmanship


Chamba Chappal, a traditional footwear of Himachal Pradesh, is not just a shoe; it is a symbol of artistry, culture, and heritage. These chappals are handcrafted with intricate designs using age-old techniques. They have gained recognition not only within the state but also across the country and beyond. 

Historical Roots and Evolution

Chamba chappals are a type of leather-embroidered footwear with a rich history dating back to the year 1808 C.E. The story of their creation is both interesting and significant.

As the legend goes, the princess of Katoch, who belonged to the ruling family of Kangra, was unhappy with her upcoming marriage to Raja Charhat Singh of Chamba. She did not like the rustic footwear worn by the people of Chamba and decided to do something unique to enhance the elegance of her new surroundings. As part of her dowry, the princess sent a skilled cobbler from the village of Panj Baria in Nurpur to Chamba. The cobbler's mission was to craft finely embroidered leather footwear, which was a major departure from the grass-made shoes that were prevalent in Chamba at that time.

Under the princess's influence and support, the art of leather embroidery began to flourish in Chamba. It became an integral part of the local culture, reflecting the traditions and values of the region.

The motif that emerged as a source of inspiration for Chamba chappal's intricate embroidery was the mango, particularly the mango leaf. This motif not only enriched the designs but also encapsulated the essence of Chamba's vibrant heritage.

In essence, Chamba chappals, rooted in history and royal elegance, represent the evolution of footwear and the enduring legacy of craftsmanship and cultural expression in Chamba.

GI Tag

The GI tag has a significant impact on the preservation of traditional craftsmanship, economic empowerment, and legal protection against unauthorized imitation of the product. With the grant of the GI tag to Chamba chappal, Himachal Pradesh boasts a total of nine products that have achieved this prestigious recognition. This recognition highlights the exceptional craftsmanship associated with the traditional footwear and serves as a protective measure against counterfeit production outside the region. This esteemed label encompasses various items, including Lahaul's knitted socks and gloves, Kullu shawl, Kangra tea, Chamba rumal, Kinnaur's shawl, Kangra painting, chulli oil, and 'kala zeera.' These products now bear the hallmark of authenticity and quality, symbolizing their unique origin.

Legal Safeguards

One of the paramount advantages of the GI tag is the legal protection it confers. Under the Geographical Indications (GIs) of Goods Act, 1999, stringent legal provisions are in place to deter misuse and unauthorized production of products, such as Chamba chappal. Manufacturers from outside the Chamba region are prohibited from labeling their products as 'Chamba chappal' without facing legal repercussions, including imprisonment of up to three years and fines of up to Rs 2 lakh.

Variety and Innovation

Originally known as 'nok-wali' or 'nokdar' for both men and women, Chamba Chappals have undergone a remarkable transformation. Today, they come in a diverse array of styles, including Pathu, Slipper or V-shaped, fish-design, teen Patti wali, ek patti wali, Chandani, and balu for women, as well as nokdar and bina nok-wali scandal type, and even Pathu for men.


The Chamba 'chappals' transcend their utilitarian purpose; they represent works of art. Crafted meticulously by skilled artisans in Chamba town, these leather 'chappals' feature intricate golden and colored embroidery, making each pair an exemplar of meticulous craftsmanship. The process involved in creating these chappals exemplifies the dedication and precision of the artisans.

Chamba Chappals are meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans who have honed their skills through generations. The craft has been passed down from master to apprentice, ensuring that the tradition lives on.

Materials: The primary material used in making these chappals is pure leather. The artisans source the finest quality leather, which is soft, durable, and comfortable to wear. The leather is often procured from local markets, adding an element of sustainability to the craft.

Designs: What sets Chamba Chappals apart are their intricate and exquisite designs. The artisans use various traditional motifs, including floral patterns, geometric shapes, and mythological symbols, to create stunning and unique designs. These designs are meticulously carved or embossed onto the leather, making each pair a work of art.

Exquisite Embroidery: Chamba Kadhai

The hallmark of Chamba Chappals is their meticulous embroidery, referred to as "Chamba Kadhai." This exquisite work is executed on velvet cloth or felt, using a vibrant spectrum of silk threads in an array of colors. Crafted primarily from sheep and goat skin, fancy leather, suede leather, locally sourced ordinary sole leather, and chrome leather for the upper portion, these chappals are adorned with silver and golden threads, known as 'russi-tilla' inspired by lantana flowers and leaves.


Chamba Chappals are not just shoes; they are an integral part of Himachali culture and tradition. They are often worn on special occasions such as weddings, festivals, and cultural events, symbolizing both style and tradition. Here are a few reasons why Chamba Chappals hold significant cultural value:

Heritage: Chamba Chappals are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh. They reflect the craftsmanship and artistic excellence that has been preserved over centuries.

Status Symbol: Historically, these chappals were a symbol of prestige and status. Even today, owning a pair of Chamba Chappals is considered a mark of elegance and refinement.

Cultural Identity: Chamba Chappals are an essential part of the Himachali identity. They connect the present generation to their roots and remind them of the traditions that have been passed down for generations.

Economic Empowerment: The significance of the GI tag transcends symbolism; it holds economic implications. Bestowing the GI tag upon Chamba chappal opens doors for craftsmen to explore markets, particularly on the international stage. It can boost exports and create opportunities for economic growth within the region.

Elegance and Accessibility: Chamba Chappals are not only aesthetically pleasing but also lightweight and budget-friendly, making them accessible to a wide audience. They remain a cherished representation of Himalayan arts and craftsmanship, preserving the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Collaborative Endeavors

The journey to secure the GI tag for Chamba chappal was characterized by a concerted effort. The Himachal Pradesh Patent Information Centre at the HP Council for Science, Technology, and Environment (HIMCOSTE), in partnership with the Ambedkar Mission Society, Chamba, undertook the responsibility of representing the manufacturers and producers. This collaborative initiative underscores the commitment to the preservation and promotion of traditional crafts.

Know more about : Handicrafts of Himachal Pradesh

Distinctiveness and Quality

Chamba Chappals stand out for their artistic intricacies and beauty, setting them apart from Maharashtra's Kolhapuri Chappals. These footwear creations not only exude beauty but also offer comfort and durability.

Versatile Creations

  • Chamba Chappals encompass a wide range of styles and offerings, including:
  • Embroidered outdoor slippers
  • Embroidered bedroom slippers
  • Embroidered Chamba Chappals
  • Embroidered leather socks worn with Chamba Chappals
  • Embroidered village-type shoes (Juta)
  • Embroidered pani-juta
  • Fancy embroidered ladies' footwear
  • Plain Chamba Chappals ('Nokdar,' 'Jalidar,' and 'Khopa')
  • Plain leather socks worn with Chamba Chappals


Chamba Chappal is more than just footwear; it is a piece of art, a symbol of tradition, and a cultural treasure. With its exquisite designs and skilled craftsmanship, it continues to captivate the hearts of people not only in Himachal Pradesh but also around the world. Owning a pair of Chamba Chappals is like owning a piece of history and culture, a reminder of the rich heritage that Himachal Pradesh proudly carries forward. These chappals are not just shoes; they are a testament to the timeless beauty of Indian craftsmanship, now safeguarded with a prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

Stay tuned for more interesting article on Jokta Academy Blog

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