Spilling out of dim-lit shops in Varanasi’s ancient bazaars is a riot of colours that stops one mid-step. This treasure trove of gorgeous tanchois, delectable muslins, luxurious brocades and softest of cotton, draws the visitor into the ambit of the humble weavers of Banaras. Weaving traditions date back to the Kashi (Varanasi) of Vedic times. So, every time you adorn yourself in a Banarasi sari you are enfolded in thousands of years of textile heritage of this venerable city by the holy Ganga.
Exploring the artisan and weavers trail in Banaras is one of the most rewarding cultural experiences in India. The intricacy, the detailing and exquisite craftsmanship of the Banarasi weaves is the outcome of an ancient eco-system that involves artisans from both the Hindu and Muslim communities. This is popularly known as the Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb (culture) of Banaras!
Why you will love it
• Plunging into the fabulous textile traditions of one of the oldest cities in the world
• Interacting with artisans who are custodians of hundreds of years of weaving and woodcraft family traditions
• Marveling at the beautiful community connect cemented by ancient crafting traditions
What you will experience
Walk with us into the alleys of the Ansari weavers, sari makers and gaze with delight upon the beautiful detail work done by hand in homes and courtyards by traditional Banaras artisans. What enhances the experience even further is a recounting of the historical narrative of the silk trade and the role of the elite artist courtesans in the city. You will also encounter artisans at work skillfully creating handmade images of gods and goddesses. You will find workers in a park stretching colourful strings of silk that will be used in the weaving process. The stroll through the tightly pack inner lanes will bring you to Dal Mandi, what was formerly the street of the courtesans. Also located here are the tabla (drum) makers. Take time to soak in the rich ambience of this vibrant Muslim bazaar!
Unforgettable too are the interactions with the artisans making handmade wooden toys and small decorative items such as the Sindoor Dan, a container used to hold sindoor (vermilion powder), which adorns the parting in a woman’s hair to indicate she is married.
While exploring the artisans’ workshops visitors can enjoy this opportunity of buying what they like directly from them. What you will also encounter along the trail is the famous and vibrant Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb (culture) of Banaras, where the Muslim community is traditionally involved in weaving the saris and its the Hindu shopkeepers who sell their wares.