If you’re a sucker for traditional handlooms just like us, join Manjulika Pramod on this handloom trail where she unravels the beauty and charms of a sweet little town in Andhra—Mangalagiri. Not only does it attract people for its sacred temples but also the legacy of its handloom weaves and extraordinary saree creations.
Unravelling the beauty of Mangalagiri Sarees
In the interest of the ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign and as a humble attempt to acknowledge the artisans and weavers of India, Hashtag Indiaunravels the beauty of a textile that has catapulted this Andhra town on the world map of the textile industry. The world famous Mangalagiri fabrics have a glorious history, and the Mangalagiri sarees in particular, gain admiration for their simple patterns, bold colours, and durability of the cotton. The ethnic designs of these sarees make it eternal.
Where is Mangalagiri?
Located 12 kms away from the city of Vijayawada, Mangalagiri is a picturesque town in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. Colloquially, the name of the town, Mangalagiri translates to “Auspicious Hill” (Mangala=Auspicious, Giri=Hill). Interestingly, it is not only home to some of the most skilled weavers of India but is also a very popular pilgrimage destination. One of the most ancient and popular temples here is a Lord Panakala Narasimha Swamy temple, honoured as one of the eight Mahakshetrams (sacred places) of India. The legend goes that the pilgrims visit the temple not only to offer obeisance to the lord but also to buy sarees made by the local weavers to support their livelihood. The ancient town has flourished under cultural and artistic influence in the last few decades.
The world famous Mangalagiri fabrics have a glorious history, and the Mangalagiri sarees in particular, gain admiration for their simple patterns, bold colours, and durability of the cotton.
Mangalagiri Cotton and Sarees
Mangalgiri sarees have a history of more than five centuries. Namesake of the town from where the handloom legacy originates, Mangalagiri sarees are known for their crisp-finish cotton fabric. They are used to produce sarees of dense colours and distinguished finesse. Cotton is a major crop of India and since time immemorial it has played a significant role in the growth of the modern textile industry in India too. Pure cotton is cultivated in many of our bountiful states and thus cotton sarees have always been a craze among the women of our country. Mangalagiri sarees are one such special type of cotton sarees with checks and patterns, along with zari or golden coloured borders. These sarees make for perfect summer wear. Traditional Nizami designs have been an all-time favourite but leaf, mango, parrot, gold coin motifs are also distinctive of these sarees. In the olden days, 12,000 looms were used for weaving but gradually these weavers’ families have been dwindling due to lack of business and demand.
Features of Mangalagiri Sarees
- The fine cotton wins hands-on.
- The fabric is produced in pit looms in and around Mangalagiri.
- The produce is crisp and sturdy.
- The fabric is light and fluffy and this makes it easy to wear.
- The warp designs of the border enhance the look of the sarees.
- These sarees have dense weaves.
- They can be dyed in a variety of colours.
- They can be used as base for umpteen crafts.
- These sarees have broad borders and are woven with gold or silver threads, adorned with zari. The Nizami border is popular as the “Nizam Zari Border”
- Mangalgiri fabrics are cheerful and available in bright shades of pinks and purples.
- These sarees are host to geometric motifs and the stripes, checks and line patterns on the pallu add much elegance.
- These sarees are extremely comfortable and can be used for daily wear.
Process of Saree Weaving
It always begins with spinning of the cotton. The cotton fibres are converted into rope-like loose strands and the slivers of cotton fibre are converted into yarn. The Mangalgiri fabric is produced with the help of pit looms by warp and woof interlacing. After the reeling, it is rinsed and made appropriate for the dyeing process. During traditional dyeing, the white sarees are bleached and others are coloured. The dyeing process is followed by the warping process. While combing yarns from different cones, it is important to preserve the yarn elongation and maintain it at uniform level.
Mangalagiri sarees are a special type of cotton sarees with checks and patterns, along with zari or golden coloured borders. These make for perfect summer wear.
After drying, it further goes for weaving, designing and cutting. Pure cotton threads are used in the weaving process and weaving is done with the help of pit looms. Once the colours fasten, it is cut in different forms to be segregated as dress material or sarees.
How to reach Mangalagiri?
It is well connected by road, railways and airways. The closest city is Vijayawada and the airport is only 25 kilometres away. Mangalagiri is situated 36 km away from Andhra Pradesh’s proposed capital city, Amravati. The closest Mangalagiri bus stop and railway station is one kilometre and five kilometres, respectively. The weaver’s colony is on the outskirts of the town. One can explore variety in the shops in the markets.
Pro-tip: You can buy some of the sarees directly from the weavers instead of big shops and stores.