As one walks through the winding country road, the rhythmic and soothing sound of handlooms weaving magic emanates from the nearby houses. The nearly 50 multi-storied textile shops that dot both sides of the narrow roads are reminiscent of the bustling life in a town. The outlets boast of a rich and exhaustive collection of exquisite handwoven garments and well-crafted designer sarees to the glee of the shoppers. And the attractive prices can only trigger a shopping spree as the traditional double ‘mundu’ and ‘set mundu’ are available at Rs 200 and Rs 165 respectively and beautiful designer sarees at Rs 700.
Just step into Kuthampully, the village of weavers, near Thiruvilwamala in Thrissur district in Kerala to experience the wizardry created by hands.
Countryside vistas and shopping
A sojourn to Kuthampully is ideal to buy appealing handwoven dresses directly from weavers at reasonable prices and enjoy the pristine beauty of life in the weavers’ village on the banks of the nostalgic Bharathapuzha, the second-longest river after Periyar in Kerala. One can purchase both handwoven and machine-woven apparels from the outlets of Kuthampully. You will have to shell out Rs 2,500 to pocket a handwoven ‘mundu’ having a 3-inch ‘kara’ (border) but a machine-woven ‘mundu’ with similar dimensions can be bought for Rs 600 to Rs 700.
Those who want to drape the pride of handloom products at attractive prices can have a great time at this reputed hamlet. The Kuthampully sarees and ‘set mundus’ are a cut above the rest as they have the geographical indication (GI) tags indicating their geographical origin and uniqueness.
Double ‘mundu’ from Rs 200
Normal ‘mundu’ costs Rs 200 and above and the price of high-quality double ‘mundu’ with ‘kasavu kara’ starts from Rs 475 and those without ‘kasavu kara’ are a tad cheaper at Rs 400. The cotton ‘mundus’ with golden and silver ‘karas’, which can be used on special occasions such as a wedding, come with a price tag of Rs 350 and above and ‘kavi’ handwoven ‘mundus’ are available at Rs 175. The Kuthampully special ‘set mundu’ can be bought for Rs 165 and above.
The price of cotton sarees starts at Rs 550, handwoven fancy sarees at Rs 900, print churidhar material at Rs 650 and that of ‘dhavani’ with a stitched skirt at Rs 1,200. The ‘kasavu’ skirt and blouse for girls are available for Rs 280 and the ‘mundu’ and shirt set for boys comes with a price tag of Rs 240.
The Devangas, who are traditionally into textile trading with roots in the erstwhile Mysore state, mainly weave the graceful Kuthampully sarees. It is known that the Cochin Royal family brought these consummate weavers to Kerala to make clothes for the members of the royal household.
The hallmark of Kuthampully is the designer sarees and the imprints of peacock, flower, Lord Krishna, elephant and kathakali artiste go well with these handwoven fabrics. Kasavu is brought from Surat in Gujarat and the warp and weft are sourced from many places including Salem in Tamil Nadu to weave exemplary cloths.
The iconic Kuthampully sarees and ‘set mundu’ are popular in Kerala and outside the state and even in foreign countries.
Change with the times
In the olden days, the workers used to carry the garments on their heads to sell them in Thrissur town, which is around 50km away from Kuthampully. But later the weaving industry grew exponentially and presently the textile shops across Kerala are ordering various types of apparels from Kuthampully in huge quantities. It is noteworthy that the Kuthampully brand has been in vogue for the past 35 years.
Though the number of handlooms has dipped from around 5,000 to nearly 2,000, the demand for Kuthampully products has increased remarkably, says textile trader Jayaraj. The face of Kuthampully changed in the past five to six years and now the handwoven fabrics can also be brought on online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.