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See the Textiles of India

Join a Responsible Tour or Plan Your Own

Travel to see textiles in India
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Fabrics for Freedom, adapted by TransitionsAbroad.com.

India’s cultural diversity is visible in its textiles. The color, the feel, and the smell of textiles catapult visitors into engagement with this ancient, multifaceted culture.

How to Research

Start your research for a textile tour of India by contacting the Textile Society of America, which itself recently offered a tour to India and keeps up-to-date information about textiles around the world.

The International Fair Trade Association focuses on ways to respect and support traditional cultures and sometimes includes information on India.

www.fibretofashion.com has a global database, including fair trade textile tours in India.

Women Mother Travel India offers textile tours in India, including those devoted to fair trade.

The Century Textiles, is one company attempting to promote fair trade and develop better models of business and industry.

There still exists a Mashru and Himroo weaving workshop offered in Aurangabad by an Indian Tour Company, which you can investigate as an option.

North and South Indian Tours focuses on visits to various textile manufacturers, which is another option to investigate

One of the great centers of Indian textile history, Kashmir, is unfortunately not a recommended option for the American traveler at the moment, given political problems that make it very difficult to enter the area to see the great and fabled products.

Places to Visit

The “Calico Museum” of Ahmedabad is considered one the best textile museums in the world. It contains a rare collection of textiles from the 17th century onward. It also hosts excellent talks by the museum curator. A nearby marketplace displays traditional textiles for sale.

A specific focus (fabric manufacture, rug making, silk weaving, block printing, embroidery and tinsel work) may lead you to a specific region:

Bangalore hosts a wholesale market where you can view all the textiles of South India in one location. This is also the largest center in Asia for silk production. View the rearing and reeling of silk threads (the conversion of cocoons silk thread). This is also home to the production of fragrant sandalwood and rosewood arts and crafts. Abundant opportunities are available for observing (and smelling).

Local weavers and weavers’ guilds are easiest to contact once you are in the region. The prosperous state of Gujarat is famous for cultivation of cotton and the use of bright colors in the dying process.

Gujarat as well as Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are home to Ikat textiles, an intricate cloth produced by a technique called "resist dyeing."

Brocades are a loom embroidery created through a special method of production. There are many weaving centers in India to see this special method of weaving for yourself:

In northern India:

  • Benaras
  • Tanda
  • Chanderi

In western India:

  • Ahmadabad
  • Surat
  • Aurangabad

In southern India:

  • Kanchipuram
  • Tanjore
  • Madurai
  • Selam Bangalore
  • Hydrabad

In eastern India:

  • Bengal
  • Orissa
  • Bihar
  • Assam
  • Meghalaya
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