Thursday 1 August 2013

Manchester of the South

Once known as the Manchester of the South, it is today better known as Silk City. No, it is not Mysore or even Bangalore but a City with links to both.
The hand woven silks of this region are famous and the city was once dotted with innumerable cotton and silk units. Today, the handlooms have all but vanished and it would be a herculean task to zero in on even a single hand loom.
Though the handlooms have fallen silent, the city continues to dazzle customers with its intricately designed silk. What distinguished the textile products from this region from others was that the colours used in the yarn were durable and they did not fade even decades after usage. On the contrary, each wash made the fabric look more new and smooth.
The hand woven silk, manufactured mostly in the Weavers Colony, it exists even today, were the USP of the City Today, the colony exists but there are no weavers as most of them have migrated to Bangalore for eking out a better livelihood.
The sarees of this town were woven in Silk, Cotton and  polyster and they were as famous as other well-known brands such as Kanchi, Benaras, Molakalmuru and Dharmavaram.
The hand woven material from this City was unique as the count or the number of threads that the weavers gave the clothe made it all the more soft.  
In weaving, warp and weft means the length and breadth and the number of threads used here is known as count. Doddaballapur handloom weavers gave clothes a unique number of counts which made the material extremely soft. Since yarn has to be dried away from the Sun (Sunlight can harm the colors during the dying process), the weavers processed it in shade.
The handlooms are today replaced by power looms which are much less expensive to maintain and also produce more. High costs, low wages, shrinking demand and lack of Governmental support led to the extinction of the handlooms. With the hand looms losing out to power looms, traditional weaving has all but disappeared.
However, the city is still known for its silk and it is still ranked among the largest producers of silk in India. Apart from Mysore city, Muddenahalli and Kanivenarayanapura, this City too is ranked among the foremost silk centres of the State.
Until 1995, Doddaballapur enjoyed an almost two-decade renaissance as the 25,000 power looms kept up the dreams of thousands of weavers, most of them belonging to the Devanga community, leading to a mammoth Rs. 3 crore cottage industry. Even the power looms have fallen on hard times.
This is the old and historic City of Doddaballapur which has been an important trading and textile centre for centuries. Though  
Doddaballapur is an ancient centre, it is first mentioned in 1598 as
Ballarpura Thanya in an inscription from the local Adinarayana Temple.
Dodda in Kannada means big and Ball means a measure of milk. Locals says the name of the city originated when they found a cow dropping a balla of milk over an anthill. Hence, the name Doddaballapur.
Whatever the legend of its origin, Doddaballapur was a well-known trading and business centre from the time of the Hoysalas. After the fall of Vikayanagar in 1565, a local feudatory, Malbhairegowda of the Avathi clan, founded the new township of Doddaballapur. In 1638, Ranadulla Khan and Shahaji captured Doddaballapur for the Adil Shahis of Bijapur. In 1689, it fell into the hands of the Mughals and later Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji.
Later, Hyder Ali and Tipu  conquered Doddaballapur and it remained in their hands till 1799 after which the Wodeyars took over.
All the rulers encouraged silk industry and Doddaballapur quickly became one of the leading silk centres of Karnataka and also of India. The decline of silk started after the Government failed to provide adequate power and water. Other incentives too were not forthcoming and this led to the decline of the cottage industry.  
Today, the silk industry is in doldrums and the only ray of hope for the people is the promise of a Silk City that is coming up at Bashettihalli, an industrial suburb, which is 6 kms away from Doddaballapur.  

1 comment:

  1. :( I like the contents in your blog. Living in yelahanka.