Silk sarees are the must-haves in every Indian woman’s closet. It is a type of saree fabric renowned for its lustrous beauty and incomparable variety of designs and colors. Silk sarees are commonly known to be the traditional bridal wear for most Indian brides. In fact, in India, no wedding is complete without the luxurious and expensive saree made of pure silk.
Kanchipuram, a city in Tamil Nadu, is the most famous city for producing silk sarees. Most of the city population is involved in weaving silk sarees, commonly known as the Kanchipuram Saree.
However, many different cities can be considered famous for their silk sarees. There is a long list of places that can be associated with certain types of silk sarees.
In this article, you’ll discover more about the most famous cities, such as Banaras, Kanchipuram, and Karnataka, that got their fame from producing stunning silk sarees.
Which City Is Famous for Silk Sarees?
As a fashionista, I often wondered where silk sarees came from and why they are so popular.
In India, different cities are involved in the production of silk sarees. For instance, there are six central states which are involved in silk production. These are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Jammu, and Kashmir. These states produce raw mulberry silk of around 97%.
However, two major cities, Mysore and North Bangalore, contribute to most of Indian’s silk production. North Bangalore is even called “Silk City” for having $20 million worth of silk production.
In Tamil Nadu, several districts, such as Salem, Erode, and Dharmapuri, concentrate on mulberry cultivation. It’s interesting that Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, and Gobichettipalayam, Tamil Nadu were the first to have automated silk reeling units.
Silk is usually associated with luxury. Not many people realize that making this fabric is very complicated, and it takes a lot of work to make this luxurious fabric. So, silkworms, which spin cocoons that later are used by silk producers, unravel them to create a thread.
After the introduction of synthetic fabric polyester, the cost of silk production went up. The silk is quite sturdy and requires good and precise care, but it’s soft to the skin and doesn’t cause any skin irritation.
Women in India wear traditional dresses, like silk sarees, almost every day. Nowadays, silk sarees are famous not only in India but all around the world. India silk is also renowned for its beauty and quality.
Why Are Banaras, Kanchipuram, And Karnataka Famous For Silk Sarees?
Wearing silk sarees has been a great tradition in India since ancient times, and it is fascinating to learn about the cities, which are famous for the production of the most beautiful silk sarees.
The silk sarees have certain features. These features are the ones that distinguish sarees produced from different cities.
Here are the three most famous cities for silk sarees.
The city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is famously known to produce the famous Banarasi saree. Banaras is located on the Calcutta/Delhi railroad, and it is always famous for its silk weaving.
Well-known traveler and explorer Ralph Fitch described Banaras as a thriving sector of the textile industry. During the famine in 1603, the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat started. This led to the beginning of silk weaving in Banaras in the 17th century, and then during the 18th and 19th centuries, it developed in excellence.
These sarees are among the finest in India, as they have gold and silver brocade, fine silk, and beautiful embroidery. The Banarasi sarees are made from fine woven silk, decorated with unique design and engravings. This usually makes these sarees quite heavy to wear.
There are some special features of the Banarasi saree, such as Mughal-inspired designs. These designs intricate floral and foliate prints, the string of upright leaves that’s called jhallar. Other characteristic features of the Banarasi saree include golden details, small-detailed figures, metallic effects, mina work, and different patterns.
It can take more than 15 days to finish making one Banarasi saree, depending on the complexity of designs and patterns. These sarees are usually worn on special occasions, such as weddings.
Varanasi or Banaras is definitely the place where you will find the finest silk sarees. The Banarasi saree has a luxurious design, which will make anyone fall in love with it. Also, the use of foliate and floral designs is very common for Banarasi Sarees, so if you like these types of patterns, then this saree is a great choice for you.
Kanchipuram is a city that is located in Chennai, which is the capital of Tamil Nadu. This city is hailed as a “silk city” because many people that live in that area are engaged in the silk weaving industry.
This city has a very interesting history, as the first silk weavers settled in Kanchipuram more than 400 years ago. This is what makes this city the best producer of silk in India. Kanchipuram sarees have dazzling colors and beautiful designs, which make them stand out from other sarees. Kanchipuram sarees can also be called Kanjivaram sarees.
Also, Kanchipuram silk sarees stand out from others because of their weaving patterns and the quality of the silk. Because of large and heavy zari work, these sarees can be very heavy. This city is a well-known destination for silk saree buyers not only from India but from all around the world.
Kanchipuram has a well-developed silk manufacturing industry, and many women choose to buy their silk sarees there. Also, the Kanjivaram sarees have a woven pallu that shows paintings of the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, which is very unique. Besides these paintings, a woven pallu can portray the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who is also a well-known Indian artist.
The sarees made in Karnataka are not only extremely expensive but also one of the most beautiful sarees on the market. Their astronomical price tag is due to 100% pure silk threads and zari made of real gold.
The city of Karnataka produces around 9 thousand metric tons of mulberry silk out of 14 thousand metric tons produced in India generally. This shows that Karnataka provides 70% of the country’s total mulberry silk production. Mostly silk is grown in the Mysore district of Karnataka. It was not like this until the second half of the 20th century when the Mysore district was revived.
Since then, the Mysore state became the top silk producer in India. The development of the silk industry began in the Kingdom of Mysore and was initiated by Tipu Sultan reign nearly 1790 AC. Some time passed, and the silk industry got hit by the global depression and rising competition with silk that was imported from other countries.
The corporation that produces the famous Mysore silk is called the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation Limited (KSIC). This factory was founded in 1912 by Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
In the past, silk fabrics were supplied to the royal family to meet certain requirements. Also, the factory manufactured and supplied ornamental fabrics to the armed forces. However, after India became independent, the Mysore State Sericulture Department took over the control of the factory.
In 1980, the factory became the property of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation. Nowadays, this factory makes many different products, such as silk sarees, shirts, silk dhoti, and many others. The Mysore silk factory is located in the center of the Mysore district, and it is mainly responsible for the distribution of the manufactured products and weaving of the silk.
This factory gets the silk from another district in Karnataka, which is called Ramanagara, and is considered the largest market of silk cocoons in Asia. Many farmers from different districts sell their silk cocoons on this market every day.
What is also important to mention is that silk cocoons are hand-picked here by the representative of the Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation. These are the experts in Mysore silk, and this is a process of government bidding. After the process, selected silk cocoons are sent to the raw silk production factory.
At this factory, the silk cocoons are boiled to the point where treads can be extracted. Then they are turned into thread rolls, which will be later sent back to the Mysore factory. The thread rolls will be used for manufacturing the different types of silk products, from which silk sarees are the most popular.
Due to the high price of the Mysore silk saree, there are many duplicates and fake Mysore sarees. To make sure you’re buying the original Mysore silk saree, you should check if the saree has a unique ID based on the design hologram and identification barcode that states that the silk saree was produced in the KSIC factory.
As you can see, there are many places in India that are famous for the silk they weave. The high-quality fabric plays a great role in the whole look of the saree and how it feels on the skin. That’s why silk is one of the favorite fabrics to use for sarees. Indian silk is in high demand due to its quality and a wide variety of options.