17 Nov The search for Kanjeevaram silk !
Tamil Nadu is a state of many wonders. The aesthetic beauty of the region, an immersive culture, spirituality, and the simplistic lifestyle are all the things I wished to dedicatedly explore in my trip. But finding an authentic Kanjeevaram silk cloth was on my top of the bucket list.
With little to no knowledge about how and where to explore for Kanjeevaram silk, I set out on a journey to explore more about the history and where to find the authentic Kanjeevaram silk in Chennai after I landed in the city. Little did I know that this exploration journey is not going to go how I expected.
At first, I availed a safe and hassle-free Chennai airport taxi service and on the way to my accommodation, asked a few things from my driver. He talked me through all the places I should explore in the city to find the best craftsmanship of authentic Kanjeevaram Silk.
First Stop – T. Nagar
T Nagar in Chennai is an assemblage of a rich collection of items made from Kanjeevaram Silk. This market is regarded as the best bazaar for Kanjeevaram pattus and zari. When I reached the place, it wasn’t an artsily decorated place with huge shops and dazzling services. The world’s biggest Kanjeevaram silk bazaar was as humble as it was rich. The shopkeepers told me upfront and straight which types of zari they had, whether they were mixed material, pure, half fine or German. I didn’t even know these many types of Kanjeevaram silk items existed!
Left baffled and awestruck by so many magnificent saris and products, my biggest takeaway from here were two things: A half pure 6 yard Kanjeevaram Sari with zari weaving that had 57% silver and 0.6% gold, which is amazing, and an enormous amount of respect for the craftsmen who put their heart out to weave this grandiose silk into these saris that left me awestruck. The Chennai Silks, Pothy’s, and RmKv were the biggest shops in this area, and also the most popular one, but I explored the whole market for a wholesome experience, and did get it!
Second Stop – Hyagrivas
One of the oldest shops for Kanjeevaram, this place was suggested to me by my driver and I was told to go here to check out the many authentic varieties of Kanjeevaram silk products, and boy did I find many. Just on my entry to the shop, it felt like I visited a temple. The place was theological towards its art, and the people working here were pious towards the craft. This 115-year-old establishment had all varieties of Kanjeevaram silk saris, which ranged from a mere 5000 INR to as much as 2,00,000 INR!
The other thing I learned which made me respect this establishment, even more, was that they have started working with the local craftsmen of Kanchipuram to provide them a platform and exposure to sell their products worldwide online. This gesture and respect Hyagrivas had for the local craftsmen really made me appreciate my visit here.
Final Stop – Kanchipuram Itself!
How could I not visit the place it all started? The village of Kanchipuram is situated a mere 2-hour drive away from Chennai. I had availed a reliable car rental from Chennai with an experienced driver and my driver knew his way around the village, and took me to places where I could see the silk being woven and dyed and dried before my eyes, which astonished me. The amount of effort to create a single thread of Kanjeevaram silk made me realize how underrated underappreciated these craftsmen’s work is by the general populace. I sat around with some families, had a great talk about the origin and history of their village and the production of Kanjeevaram silk, and bid adieu to the great people by the evening. My trip to this godly city turned out to be very rhapsodic, and left me wondering about what other gems are hiding in this part of the world.