ll   VARANASI ... the shopping  ll

 ll  The City  ll  The Geography  ll  The Climate  ll  The People  ll  The Culture  ll  The Lifestyle  ll  The Festivals  ll  The Handicrafts  ll  The Art and Architecture  ll  The Music and Dance  ll  The Famous Folks  ll  The Economy  ll  The Shopping  ll  How to get there  ll  The Ganga  ll  Places Of Interest   ll 


Varanasi's silks and brocades, still 'Banaras' sarees to most people the world over, is the best-known and, perhaps, the most beautiful of U.P.'s handicrafts. Brocades and rainbow silks, iridescent with gold and silver threads, were carried from here along the 'Silken route' to Greece and Rome thousands of years ago. The zari work created on the silks with gold and silver threads is both delicate and grand. The original kinkhabs (brocades) were woven with threads of pure gold and silver. But only synthetic zari - that is, gilted wires of copper and brass - is used today, as the price of precious metals is prohibitive.

Gauzes - popularly known as organzas - are very popular with women of the younger generation, as they are very light and, by their sheer transparency, lend a sort of dreamy quality to the wearer.

Tanchois, which are now woven in Varanasi alone, are all-silk brocades, with the plain satiny surface relieved by an inter-linked pattern - usually Chinese designs - in pastel shades or, sometimes, Mughal motifs in vibrant colours.

Weaving in Varanasi is a family tradition; today's weavers and zari workers are probably proud descendants of those who clothed the olden-time maharajas and their queens: The flourishing industry, with its base in family homesteads and humble workshops, now has an international market.

Men can look for silk ties and dinner jackets of the purest silk, women for heavy brocades, gauzy muslins and rich silks in the shops that crowd Vishwanath Gali, Gyanvapi, Chowk and Gol ghar areas.

Fancy brassware, some of it genuinely antique, heady, indigenous scents and aromatic tobacco are other Varanasi specialties. While in Varanasi, also look out for lacquered wooden toys and gold and silver ornaments; there is sure to be something attractive and eye-catching. Shops for brass and copper-ware, ivory and curios of all kinds, jewellery, carpets and handicrafts are situated in Varanasi. The main shopping areas are Chowk, Vishwanath Gali, Gyanvapi and Thatheri Bazar.