Firstly, Kanchipuram (referred by the British as Kāñci-pura or Conjevaram) is a town which is approximately 70 km (45 miles) from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is known for its silk weaving industry. Kanchipuram is also home to some ancient and spectacular temples. The Varadharaja Perumal Temple, the Ekambareswarar Temple, the Kamakshi Amman Temple, the Kumarakottam Temple and the Kailasanathar Temple are some of major Hindu temples in town.
The silk trade in Kanchipuram began when King Raja Raja CholaI (985–1014 AD) invited weavers to migrate to Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram was predominantly a cotton weaving town and it was during the reign of King Krishna Deva Raya that silk weaving gained prominence.
The silk threads used for weaving the Kanjivaram sari are made up of three single threads twisted together. The threads are dipped in rice water and dried in the sun. The zari that is used is silver wire dipped in liquid gold. The mulberry silk, the raw material for silk weaving, is extremely fine and durable and comes from the neighbouring State of Karnataka. it is due to this reason that the Kanjivaram silk saree is rich and glossy in appearance.
There are several prominent silk sari stores in Kanchipuram, which have their own weaving and dyeing units. Several houses in the town have looms in which the silk weaving is undertaken. Until recently, there were no shops or stores to display the silk saris. The front room of the weaver’s house served as a store and the rooms at the back of the house had weaving looms. Some of the storeowners would gladly take you around and show you their manufacturing facilities even today.
Traditionally, South Indian brides wear silk saris at their wedding. So, bridal wear shopping is best done in Kanchipuram, although some of the reputed shops have their branches in Chennai.
The locals from Chennai city and other neighbouring towns visit Kanchipuram when they shop for weddings or other special occasions.
Babu Sah is the best known shop for Kanjivaram silk sarees.
Visitors to Kanchipuram should note that several shopping escorts stop cars and try to guide tourists .It is advisable not to go with these guides and to go to the preferred shops directly. One can phone the shops in case any help is required.
Kanchipuram Shopping: Looking to buy Kanjivaram silk sarees and Kanchi cotton sarees? See which are the best shops in Kanchipuram with our shopping guide on famous markets in Chennai.
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