From handloom sarees that turn into heirlooms to opulent Thanjavur paintings that brighten up the emptiest of walls, Chennai presents an endless list of things worth taking back home. But stumbling upon spellbinding finds is not even the best part of it all. The search through the city’s busy market streets and infinite options presented in shiny showrooms makes it all worthwhile. With all that, Chennai is genuinely every shopper’s, and even collector’s, paradise. Here’s our list of things you must add to your wishlist the next time you visit the city.
Handloom Silk Sarees
Even those who swear by denim and linen shirts can’t resist the charm of Kanchipuram silk sarees–such is their magic. Weaving this saree is a 400-year-old craft native to the temple city of Kanchipuram. Woven with pure mulberry silk thread and zari, this nine-yard wonder is put together to serve as a rich canvas for bold patterns and flamboyant colours. If you’re visiting Chennai, drop everything to set on your search for the one that feels right.
Where to buy: Kanakavalli, 60, Spur Tank road, M.S. Nagar, Mukta Gardens, Chetpet
The history of Thanjavur painting, also known as Tanjore painting, is as rich as the art itself. These paintings originated 280 km south of Chennai, in Thanjavur, in the 16th century and flourished under the patronage of the Maratha rulers. Since then, the splendour of the paintings hasn’t lost its shine. Admirers of art from all over the world find themselves in awe of the detailed and gold-embossed depictions of deities and tales from mythology.
Where to buy: Vinayaka Tanjore Art Gallery, Old No, 3, Venkatanarayana Rd, near Panagal Park
Thanjavur has offered the world another majestic creation–the Thanjavur veena. The making of this ancient musical instrument is a craft that artisans of Thanjavur have mastered for ages. Now, due to increased accessibility, you can find Thanjavur’s unique creations in shops across Chennai as well.
Where to buy: Sri Saraswathy Musicals, 70, 1, 100 Feet Rd, Ottagapalayam, Somasundara Bharathi Nagar, Vadapalani
Swamimalai Bronze Statues
From the town of Swamimalai, located in the Thanjavur district, comes an ancient craft of moulding bronze into elegant figurines and idols. The community of artisans involved in this traditional practice are known as “Sthapathis.” A look at their beauty would have you believe it is perfect for that empty corner in your home, but they serve a bigger purpose. Apparently, the bronze idols are also deemed to have medicinal properties as they’re made of five metals or “panchaloha,” which have the power to emit a positive cosmic effect.
Where to buy: Srirangam Bronze Gallery, No 7, 48th Street, Nanganallur, 48th St