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Thursday 21 April 2022

Kalluru - Weaving Stories In Silk - I

It was by chance that Meera and I got to visit Kalluru in Gubbi taluk (Karnataka). Meera had to buy some sarees for an event in the family. Her friend, Dev, recommended a visit to Kalluru, a small town that is also an age-old weavers settlement.  This place is known for its incredible silk weaves. It was only when we got there that we realized what an incredible place we were in.

The summer had been at its peak, so we were a bit worried about how the heat of the day was going to treat us, but we were lucky to have a moderately cloudy day saving us from the unforgiving heat. After exiting Bengaluru via Nelamangala, we took the NH75 through Kunnigal and Yadiyur before taking a right towards Kalluru. The roads throughout were excellent and dotted with multiple highway eateries. That Sunday morning, all of them were having a very good business.
We stopped at Food Culture for both our breakfast and lunch on our way back. A little pricey, but the food and ambience were decent. 

Dev met us a few kilometers before Kalluru and we followed him to the saree showroom owned by his uncle. The showroom was already filled with multiple wedding shoppers even as early as half past 10 that morning. For the hardcore saree shoppers, this was heaven. 

The bustling outlet

We ourselves spent over 2 hours there picking out sarees. It was impossible to select with so many colors, patterns and varieties simply screaming for attention. When we were finally done, we had a chance to talk to Dev’s cousin Jayaram - a master weaver with almost 100 weavers working for him - and Mahadeviah who is also a master weaver, but on a smaller scale.

Jayaram (L) and Mahadeviah (R)

A few colors and designs

The history they shared with us was fascinating. Their community of weavers was originally from the Vijayanagar empire. When the empire came under attack from the Moghuls, the community scattered to various other parts of the country and one lot of them settled down in Kalluru, where they once again began to grow and prosper.

Dreams in Silk


Though initially they were into weaving cotton sarees, now their specialty lies in silks. That trend started after Tipu Sultan brought silk to India around 200 years ago. 

They started off as a mere 100 families and now over 80% of the 1000 families in Kalluru alone have their weaving setup and business.  

In the earlier days, the families used to be large and income was poor. But they soon realized that weaving provided a decent livelihood and used to send their children to learn this art as a means of livelihood and survival.  

The power loom
The Handloom setup

What was initially exclusively handloom, slowly started to move to power loom in the late 90s. It however started picking up only after they started receiving a more uninterrupted power supply. Now just about 10% of the weavers are still holding on to their handloom equipment, while everyone else has moved to power looms.

While the pandemic drove a lot of business to the ground, it somehow proved to be a blessing in disguise for the weavers of Kalluru. With retail outlets shutting down, people started to get their supply from the source itself. That was when Kalluru’s fame started spreading even more, not just as a weaver’s hub, but also as a perfect place for wholesale purchase.

These weavers send anywhere from 400-600 sarees per family each week to Bangalore. This is just 80% of their production. The other 20% is sold at Kalluru itself.

After this introduction, we were taken to see the looms. Do join me in the next part for more on the weaving and follow the journey of the Saree.

Location map:


Athihally Devraj said...

It's very nice...need not go to tamilnadu....

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