Almost every state in India has its very own version of the six yard splendour–the saree. Woven with threads of gold, or made from strands of cotton, or adorned with traditional motifs that are painstakingly hand-stitched by artisans – the saree has many stunning avatars.

LBB criss-crosses the country to find you the best place for sarees; your own textile adventure.

Kanchipuram

kailasanathar temple and kanchipuram sarees

Kailasanathar temple, Kanchipuram: Keshav Mukund Kandhadai; Kanchipuram Sarees: Sunil K.V 

Possibly the grandest of them all, the Kanjivaram is a stunning showcase of silk and zari. In the bustling, heritage town of Kanchipuram, in Tamil Nadu, entire families have immersed themselves in the art of weaving fine, mulberry silk with coarse silk threads dipped in silver or gold. You can head to shops at Gandhi Road to buy the finery.

Once a capital of the Pallava kingdom, Kanchipuram is a holy town and, according to Hinduism, among the seven in India where you can attain nirvana, so sightseeing here is all about temple-hopping.

The Kailasanatha Temple, from the Pallava period, stuns you with its intricate stone work, while the Ekambareswarar Temple is one of five major temples in South India that are dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Distance from Delhi: 2,237 kilometres {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Chennai

Mysore

mysore palace and mysore silk sarees

Mysore Palace: Jim Ankan Deka; Mysore Silk: KSIC 

Since the time of Tipu Sultan, Mysore has been a renowned producer of silk and, today, the district produces 70 per cent of the country’s mulberry silk. If you’re travelling through towns around Mysore {like Ramanagaram, for example}, you’ll pass by many houses with traditional cocooning units. In the city of Mysore itself, you can stop by the Government Silk Factory and witness a resplendent saree in the making.

A tourist favourite, Mysore is a city of palaces, temples, and colonial buildings. Do visit the Mysore Palace, that was the seat of the Wodeyar dynasty.; its ornate interiors will bowl you over. As will the Jaganmohan Palace, Lalitha Mahal and the Chamudeshwari Temple.

Distance from Delhi: 2,292 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Bangalore

Benaras

ahilya ghat and banarasi saree

Varanasi Ghat: Ken Weiland; Source: Banarasi Saree 

Opulent is the word that best describes the Banarasi saree. Embellished with heavy brocade, the intricate work can sometimes take over six months to complete. Floral and leaf motifs are common and you can pick up sarees made in pure silk, georgette, organza, and shattir.

Now known as Varanasi, the town of Benaras is shrouded in mysticism and is the holiest of places according to Hinduism. By the banks of the River Ganges, are the ghats where pilgrims come to perform religious rituals, and they make for a colourful sight. You can also navigate the narrow lanes of the town to discover ancient forts, temples {23,000 of them, actually}, and mosques {some of them like the Alamgiri Mosque dates back to the Mughal era}.

Distance from Delhi: 794 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Varanasi

Chanderi

chanderi fort and chanderi saree

Chanderi Fort: Amrita Bose, Chanderi Saree: Gaatha.com 

Chanderi, it is said, took root in the Vedic period and was brought to life by Lord Krishna’s cousin–Shishupala. Whatever may be the origin story, we know for sure that the Chanderi weave is centuries old and was embraced, through the ages, by royal families. Light-weight and marked by a luminescent gold, the chanderi is woven from silk, cotton, or silk cotton. While on a visit, drop by Chanderiyaan, a weaver’s collective, to catch artisans in action and pick up a few sarees.

Madhya Pradesh’s Chanderi is a town speckled by hills, forests and lakes as well as historical forts and monuments. The graceful arches of Koshak Mahal, the 15th century tomb of Mehrunissa {known as Shehzadi Ka Rauza}, and the recently restored {to its original glory} Chanderi Fort are all sights to behold.

Distance from Delhi: 549 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Gwalior

Bishnupur

shaymrai temple in bishnupur and baluchari saree

Shyamrai Temple, Bishnupur: Amartyabag; Baluchari Saree: Gaatha.com 

Though Murshidabad, another district in West Bengal that’s known for its silk, was the birthplace of the famed Baluchari Saree, it’s Bishnupur that almost exclusively produces it now. Made from silk, Baluchari sarees feature pallus that depict scenes from the Mahabharatha and Ramayana, which set them apart. The scenes are handstitched with two threads of different colours and it takes around a week to make a single saree.

Apart from the sarees, Bishnupur is famous for its terracotta temples. The handful of temples built during the 17th and 18th century under the rules of the Mallas, are dedicated to Lord Krishna and feature multi-lobed arches, towering domes and curved roofs.

Distance from Delhi: 1,358 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Kolkata

Kota

ranthambhor tigers sanctuary and kota dorai saree

Ranthambhor Tiger Sanctuary: Luis Villa; Kota Dorai Saree: Jaypore.com 

This town in Rajasthan became textile paradise when Rao Kishore Singh, a general for the Mughals, brought in weavers from Mysore. Since then {that’s around the 17th and 18th century}, Kota has produced a variety of sarees that are marked by checks that form while the saree is being woven over a traditional pit. At Kota, you can buy anything from plain, cotton sarees to more ornate drapes that  feature intricate dorai {thread} work.

Like the rest of Rajasthan, Kota too is bestowed with stunning palaces. Drop by the City Fort Palace, a large, whitewashed complex that houses a durbar where you can gawk at the beautiful mirror work. There’s also an in-house musuem worth checking out. The Jagmandir palace that sits pretty in the midst of the artificially-created Kishore Sagar lake is another popular tourist spot.

You can also visit the Ranthambore National Park and the historical city of Bundi from Kota.

Distance from Delhi: 507 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Jaipur

Maheshwar

maheshwar fort and maheshwari saree

Source: Rehwa 

The history books tell us that since the fifth century, Maheshwar has been a handloom producing centre. Crafted from cotton, Maheshwari sarees {many say that it was conceptualised by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar who ruled these parts in the 18th century} are a vibrant display of contrasting colours, and often feature thick borders {sometimes floral}, checks and stripes.

Today, under the patronage of the Holkar family, the Rehwa Society works with hundreds of weavers to produce the stunning Maheshwari saree.

By the banks of the river Narmada, Maheshwar is dotted by many monuments from when the Holkars ruled. The imposing Ahilya Fort {it’s been converted to a hotel} makes for a pretty sight from the outside. The lush-green Narmada Ghats and a handful of ancient temples are also worth dropping by.

Distance from Delhi: 943 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Indore

Karaikudi

chettinad mansion and chettinad saree at karaikudi

Chettinad Mansion: Smriti; Chettinad Saree: Jaypore.com 

Over a century ago, the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu was famous for a weave called Kandangi, that was made from pure silk. While these silk sarees have faded away, their designs and intricacies are now showcased on the Chettinad cotton sarees that Karaikudi is famous for.

Deep and earthy tones are the hallmark of Chettinad cottons, and weavers usually work in simple patterns like checks, stripes, and temple motifs while hand making them.

A heritage town, Karaikudi’s mansions, antique ware, and spicy cuisine add dollops of excitement to your trip. Home to the wealthy Nagarathar Chettiars, Karaikudi’s bedecked with antiques and curios—some of them like the Chettinad Raja Palace are open to the public. For all the details on Karaikudi’s many delights, click here.

Distance from Delhi: 2,568 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Madurai

Sambalpur

huma leaning temple and sambalpuri ikat saree

Huma – Leaning Temple: Mkar; Sambalpuri Ikat Saree: Priyadarshini Handloom 

Made famous by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Sambalpuri saree is made in several handloom clusters in Orissa, including Sambalpur, Bargarh, Boudh and Balangir. The Sambalpuri ikat is a technique where the yarn threads are tied-and-dyed before the weaving process even begins. This is what makes it so unique.

A major tourist attraction in Sambalpur is the Hirakud Dam, which is the world’s largest earthen dam and also forms Asia’s largest artificial lake. The lake attracts many migratory birds in winters, so don’t forget to carry a pair of binoculars if you are visiting during this time. In summer, the waters of the dam recede and uncover a submerged temple. The Leaning Temple of Huma, that’s just outside Sambalpur, and the Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary are other attractions.

Distance from Delhi: 1,351 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Raipur

Sualkuchi

boat race on brahmaputra river and muga silk saree

Bhrahmaputra River: Jugal Bharali; Muga Silk Saree: Rediff.com 

An out-an-out textile hub, Sualkuchi is the centre of Assam silk production. The town produces all three types of Assam silk – Muga {produced by a silkworm that’s endemic to the state}, Pat {mulberry silk}, and Eri silk {where the silkworm feeds on the leaves of the castor oil plant}. Sarees from here feature heavy floral work in reds, blacks, greens and yellows.

Sualkuchi is a town by Brahmaputra River, where you can spend an hour or two taking in the scenery. The aging Sidheshwar Devalaya temple, the monastery of Hatisatra that’s dedicated to Lord Krishna, and the pilgrimage centre of Hajo will give you much spiritual solace, we assure you.

Distance from Delhi: 1,859 kms {approx.}

Nearest Airport: Guwahati