Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kanchi silk in Mumbai

Started in 1981, this shop right in the heart of Matunga is a treasure house of silks and cotton sarees from South India, especially from Tamil Nadu.

The proprietor of Nalli's proudly proclaims his lineage from a family of traditional weavers from the temple town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu.

Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 6th century AD, and was later the citadel of the powerful Chola kings and the Vijayanagar Rayas. In its heyday, Kanchipuram was a center of culture, seat of learning and one of the holy places that pilgrims flocked to.

75% of Kanchipuram’s population depends on the silk saree industry. Yet, the city does not manufacture silk, or indeed, any of the raw materials that go into silk making. Kanchi specializes only in handloom weaving.

Weaving is a cottage industry, and the skills are handed down from one generation to the next. It is fascinating to see silk go through various stages - sorting, starching, dyeing and weaving - before the final finished product emerges.

The durability of Kanchipuram silk comes from the fact that it is made of twisted silk yarn - three yarns twisted together into one. This is also what gives Kanchi silk its sheen.

Lustrous Kanchi Silk

Although Nalli's main procurement centre is Kanchi, they also stock crepe sarees from Mysore in Karnataka, Pochampallis from Andhra Pradesh and Kasavu sarees from Kerala.

Kerala Kasavu

Andhra Pochampalli - an ikat tie-and-die print

A visit to the shop shows that patrons include not just South Indians but also Gujaratis, Punjabis and others, including foreigners. Recently, the shop has been extended to cover 2500 square feet on the first floor, with a colourful display of zari embroidered saris with intricate designs.


Anonymous said...

o boy ! i went to the nallis in mumbai for the first time in 1994. and then went to a shop with a same name at madras - mindbogling . However I liked the smaller stores in the older sections of madras having nice sarees and a lesser price. Going down memory lane!

Anonymous said...


You have a very nice blog here...good keep up the the way any chance of blogging different part of Pune cities as you know it is the culture center of the great state Maharashtra.

Jai Hind Jai Maharashtra


Anonymous said...


Could you tell me the exact location of the store?

Thanks and Regards,