TN sees steady growth as textiles tourism hub

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2017-09-27 10:00:00 – Chennai

Tamil Nadu state's textile tourism has seen a steady growth, of late as a large number of people who are part of textile tourism are export buyers frequently visiting places like Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Chennimalai, Erode, etc. On World Tourism Day, today, experts in this field shared their thoughts on how the textile industry is contributing to the state's tourism.

Erode and Chennimalai are best known for blankets, table linens, etc. These buyers come for textile machinery to Coimbatore. So, when there's a good inflow of such people, the message gets spread through word of mouth about the textile heritage these places possess, said Sreemathy Mohan, who organizes textile trails and is a researcher of the state's textile heritage.

According to Sreemathy, the availability of handloom, organic cotton and sungudi also attract a lot of textile enthusiasts., Organic cotton is available in places like Pollachi, Negamam and Vadambacheri. Negamam cotton saris, especially, are very famous. When they make organic cotton saris, they use natural dyes. So, people who are very environment-conscious go for it. There's a big market for this in Europe also.

Meanwhile, in places around Madurai, it is sungudi fabric which is famous. A lot of people who visit the temples around Madurai also drop in at the units where they make sungudi saris. They are specially made by a segment of the Saurashtrian community called Pattunool Karar. The art was kind of lost for some time, but now it's in revival mode.

The saris are dyed in a special way. They tie up the saris in small knots and dye them. When they open the knots after dyeing, there would be white knots wherever they had put the knots. So, there are about 8,000 to 9,000 dots on one single sari. That's the specialty of sungudi saris. A lot of people come to Madurai to watch these people make sungudi saris. And that adds to the number of textile tourists in the state.

Kancheepuram is another favourite destination of sari buyers. There's a good difference in the price of saris if one buys directly from Kancheepuram. So, many people who want to buy saris for weddings go and buy directly from weaving societies in Kancheepuram.

With its rich textile traditions and heritage, trails are regularly organized to many of these places. Sreemathy herself organized a trail two months ago. It was a one-day trip. When such trails are organized, they take the participants to a weaver's place and show them the techniques of handloom saris and help them buy saris. They also take them to a temple, take them to a place where Kancheepuram idlis are made, etc. It gives them a complete feel of the city.

TN Venkatesh, managing director of Co-optex agreeing with Sreemathy said that the main idea behind such trails is to make people appreciate handloom. They have been doing these trails for the last one year. And they have taken people to Kancheepuram, Arani, Madurai and Thanjavur. Interestingly, most of them are young textile enthusiasts and students, and they all come from places as far as Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

According to Deepa Krishnan, founder of a tour-organizing company, apart from domestic tourists, there's a good inflow of foreign tourists as well to explore the heritage of sari-making in Tamil Nadu. They run textile trails all over India, including Tamil Nadu. For most of the first-time visitors to India, their interests lie in the textiles of Rajasthan and Gujarat, where these trails have been running well for many years alongside a highly developed tourism sector.

There are several non-profits that have opened up textile museums, and which conduct multi-day residential workshops for these tourists. Alongside this, the facilities for accommodation and guide services are also well developed. In south India, textile trails are a more recent phenomenon. In Tamil Nadu, the main centres for textile trails are Chennai (to visit Kancheepuram, usually as a one-day trip, and to visit Kalakshetra), Pondicherry (where there are diverse crafts and textiles in the Auroville community, including indigo dyeing, bamboo, leather work, screen printing, etc), and Chettinad (to see the Athangudi tiles and the Chettinad weaves).

Tamil Nadu has been on the top of the list of states that attract tourists inflow for the third consecutive year, as its embody heritage have definitely been the key factors.

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