Telangana has the highest concentration of distinct handloom weaves in this country of 2.5 million weavers. The textiles in the state vary from region to region, as each has a different craft to offer. Among the villages, Pochampally is the most popular for its weaves. If you are fascinated by India’s rich tradition of textiles, you must visit Pochamppally, famous for its handwoven ikkat saris.

You will have to drive through suburban sprawls and red dust to reach Pochampally, located an hour east of Hyderabad. The village itself is quite picturesque to begin with. It is surrounded by hills on three sides and the central area is filled with lush green fields of red chillies and paddy. The village and its surrounding areas are dotted with tanks, ponds, open-roofed (chatrasala) houses and temples. Additionally, you may catch glimpses of women making mats, farmers tapping neera from palm trees and shepherd’s herding flocks of sheep and goats. The place encompasses everything you’ve imagined of a small Indian village, thereby making it an ideal vacation spot to escape the city.

Smack in the middle of Pochampally is a gated community – a confection of red-tiled cottages and landscaped greens – Telangana Tourism’s Rural Tourism Complex. Outside, there is a weavers’ colony, with wooden doors, lovingly-painted thresholds and ikkat curtains fluttering in the breeze. The logo of Pochampally’s Weavers’ Cooperative is an image of a weaver at a loom encircled by these words: ‘Salvation of India lies in cottages.’ Besides, there is also the Minsitry of Textiles’ Pochampally Handloom Park. Although the huge modern edifice may look out of place in this sleepy village, the complex is an interesting place to learn about ikkat work and the art of weaving.

HISTORY

For a cluster of 80 villages, the region around Pochampally has a rich history. In April 1951, the Bhoodan Movement (land-gifting movement), that saw rich landowners voluntarily gift a percentage of their lands to the landless, was implemented here. The landless in turn could settle in these portions and grow their own food. The pioneer of this movement, Vinobha Bhave moved to this small village in Nalgonda District and gathered the villagers around him. When he mentioned that the government was not going to give them any land to sustain livelihoods, a wealthy landowner, Ram Chandra Reddy volunteered, to everyone’s surprise, to donate 100 acres of his land. Thus, the massive Bhoodan Movement started in this area and later spread to the entire country. From this movement, the cluster of villages got its current name, Bhoodan Pochampally.

Nilotpal Baruah
A weaver spinning thread at the Weaver’s Cooperative
A weaver spinning thread at the Weaver’s Cooperative

The weaving industry at Bhoodan Pochamapally became popular after a young weaver, G Mallesham came up with a device to mechanise the time-consuming process of winding yarn and weaving the cloth. This was recognised by the National Innovation Foundation. Today, this cluster of villages is home to over 10,000 weaving families.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Pochampally is famed for its ikkat textiles, where the yarn, tie-dyed before weaving, produces jagged geometric patterns. The ikkat saris here come in both cotton and silk. Single-ikkat is when only the yarn in the weft shuttle is tie-dyed, and double-ikkat is when the yarn on the warp is tie-dyed as well. Pochampally’s ikkat tradition is newer than, and the work not quite as refined as, Gujarat’s patola or Orissa’s Sambalpuri ikkat.

The Rural Tourism Complex here looks like a huge bungalow and is adjacent to a beautiful lake called the Pochampally cheruvu. The complex has a weaving museum and statues of Vinobha Bhave and Ram Chandra Reddy. The museum also houses a small hut where Vinobha Bhave stayed on his visit to Pochampally. One of the rooms in the museum showcases different types of spinning wheels; the one made of wood and the one using a cycle wheel as the lever, are the interesting ones here. There is also a room displaying various types of looms that are used in the Pochampally weaving technique. One room of the museum has all the weaves that come from the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh; Pochampally’s is the most interesting weave of them all.

Ahtushi
Bundles of colourful silk thread used to weave saris
Bundles of colourful silk thread used to weave saris

The guides at the museum are weavers from the surrounding villages; they will even demonstrate the weave for you and let you try your hand at it. This particular museum is dedicated to weaving of saris, bed sheets and dress material from cotton and silk.

Close by, next to the village of Jiblipalle, is the Pochampally Handloom Park, run by the Ministry of Textiles. Although the campus is humungous in size, it is difficult to find it using maps. You have to keep asking people; there are also a couple of inconsequential signboards that you have to keep an eye for. The complex is in a pinkish-brown building amid several green fields. The handloom park has several sections within it and the most interesting ones are the Weaving Cluster, Processing Unit and Training Centre. Besides encouraging the art form by employing several artisans in the weaving cluster and processing unit, the park provides skill development and works towards conserving the traditional Pochampally weave through its Training Centre.

Although hard to find, there are a few houses nearby which make the weave traditionally. If you ask around enough, however, the locals will enthusiastically show you their huts that are nothing short of mini-manufacturing units. These people take four to five days to weave the cloth into saris by hand and sell them to middlemen afterwards.

However, don’t expect to buy saris from the homes of the weavers because unlike handicrafts, handloom is rarely, if ever, sold directly. You may find cooperatives that retail a small selection of saris here or a master weaver who is willing to sell a piece or two. Or if you drive to the neighbouring towns, you’re likely to run into a cluster of local textile shops. But it’s in Hyderabad that you will find weaves from every corner of the state, often under the same roof.

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

At Pochampally, you can spend the night at Telangana Tourism’s Rural Tourism Complex (Cell: 0901026-4700; Tariff: 700–900). The complex offers four rooms and two large dorms, and is the only place to stay in Pochampally. Meals are provided on request. You can also stay at one of the hotels in the nearby Ramoji Film City or make a day trip from Hyderabad, which has hotel options for every budget .

District Nalgonda

Location Southeast of Hyderabad, ahead of Ramoji Film City

Distance 46km SE of Hyderabad

Route from Hyderabad Take NH 65 at Uppal Ring Road; turn left at Kothaguda

FAST FACTS

When to go All year round, but October to March is the most comfortable time for travel

Tourist Offices

Central Reservations Office

Department of Tourism

Telengana Tourism

NSF Shakar Bhawan

Opp Police Control Room

Basheerbagh

Hyderabad

Tel: 040-2980140, 66745986

Cell: 09848540371

Fax: 23298455

Rural Tourism Complex

Telengana Tourism

Pochampally

Cell: 09010264700

W telenganatourism.gov.in

STD code 08685

 

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Hyderabad (40km/ 1.5hrs) is served by both domestic and international flights. State transport department taxi charges 1,800/ 80km

Rail Nearest railhead: Bibinagar Railway Station (18km/ 45mins) is served by the Secunderabad-Bhagyanagar Express, Narasapur-Hyderabad Express, Hyderabad Deccan Narasapur Express and Kacheguda Repalle Fast Passenger. Autos are available for Pochampally just outside the station

Road Take the Esamia Bazaar Road to NH 9 in Mothi Market. It’s a smooth ride down the NH 9 to Kothaguda,(about 5km after the Ramoji Film City turning) where you turn off (left) on to MG Road for Pochampally village (10km) via Jalalpur

Bus Frequent bus services are available from Hyderabad’s LP Nagar and Dilsukhnagar bus stand