TN sees new revival of interest in traditional weaves through tourism

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2016-01-28 17:00:00 – Chennai

With the people of Chennai beginning to explore textile trails both in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country, there is a new revival of interest in the traditional weaves of Tamil Nadu as a niche section of tourists make it a point to meet the artisans, according to travel agencies.

There is a growing movement for the revival of the Sungudi sari in Madurai, vintage Kanjeevaram designs and Chettinad cotton for instance, are bringing in textile enthusiasts from across the country. There is also a growing demand for textile trails in Chennai – especially Mylapore and T. Nagar. People are interest to know how to shop smarter and where to get the best buys, said Ms. Mohan, a member of the Crafts Council of India that has been working with weavers to revive handmade Madurai Sungudi, Veeravanallur saris and Koranadu saris.

According to Shilpa Sharma, founder of Breakaway Tours, an experiential travel venture over the four years has been organizing textile tours to Tamil Nadu, there has been a 40 to 50 percent growth in the sector. Their day trips to Kancheepuram are also very popular – they have at least one trip a month with between four to 10 tourists.

While tourists are mostly from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and West Bengal, there are some foreigners too. A trip to Kalakshetra to see Kalamkars at work, weaver interactions and visits to looms in Kancheepuram, and learning about sustainable textile in Puducherry are some of the many experiences offered to tourists, she said.

Uma Prajapathi of Upasana in Auroville, whose unit promotes sustainable fashion, said several tourists visited them to see their work with handlooms, organic cotton, natural fibres and khadi.

Chennai Magic too, conducts textile tours in Tamil Nadu and south India and this sector is increasing in popularity, said Deepa Krishnan, founder of the company.

Their clients are all overseas visitors to India and NRIs and are very interested in this. The textile tours are usually combined with exploration of other crafts too such as Athangudi tile making and bronze casting. Chettinad and Kancheepuram are the major areas explored, she said.

Cooptex too is now beginning to venture into the textile trail sector, said T.N. Venkatesh, Managing Director. In a first project of its kind, they are taking a group of textile enthusiasts on a Kovai Kora trail – to Vadambacheri and Sirumugai. This is being done solely to promote awareness of handlooms. The textile trail would explore the links – from the weavers to Cooptex.

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