My love for the ‘sari’ is beyond compare. I’ve loved the 9 yards for as long as I can remember. As a kid I would spend hours in front of the mirror inventing newer ways to drape my mom’s saris. I loved the few occasions throughout teenage years where the school events allowed us girls to dress formally (which always meant wearing saris. WINK!!!) Back in college, the occasional wear remained the evergreen sari. But my workplace was where ‘sari’ stepped outside of the occasions and became my normal office attire most days. My love for the nine yards inspired me to explore the variety of saris across India (Getting married to a south Indian helped immensely) From the Bandhinis of Jaipur and the ‘Taanter saree’ of West Bengal, from the Maheshwaris and Chanderis of MP to the Kanjeevarams of Kacheepuram. I’ve travelled far and wide across India to create a personal collection that brings much admiration from friends. I have almost a hundred different saris collected over the past decade, most bought from my travels, while some gifted by friends and family. More often than not, I’ve been asked to recommend sari stores to shop from and I’ve happily obliged near and dear ones.
In this post however, I’m going to talk about south cotton sari stores in Bangalore (My second home). When I moved here in 2009, I asked around for recommendations to the biggest sari market in the city. My aim was to explore the old markets, like I love doing in any city and to also shop for some South Cotton saris (Wink!!).
So my driver told me about Chikpet. This place is considered a hub of wholesale markets. Be it for lights, sanitary ware, furnishings, garments or jewellery, the list is endless. Shopping at the best bargain prices and rightly so. Naturally, when it comes to saris, there’s a market for that too. It sounded so much like Chandni Chowk, and I had to explore it. So I made a trip there and discovered this big lane that connects Iyengar Road to Avenue Road, home to the finest sari retailers and wholesalers in Bangalore. One can find scores of sari shops sprouting everywhere. From chic sari showrooms to hawkers selling accessories et al, you can find it all here.
The best way to go about it is on foot. But let me warn you that exploring this lane on foot is quite a task as the place is almost always swarming of shoppers. Being a fan of South Cotton Saris I’ve managed to discover the best places for buying cotton saris in good old Chikpet. Some where on this lane is an old decrepit complex called Mohan Building. The entrance is quite elusive but I’ve posted a picture here for reference:-
Once inside you would find yourself in a courtyard with shops all around. These are more like godowns where saris are stacked in neat piles everywhere. From regular Coimbatore cotton to Kancheepuram cotton or even Pochampallis , you will get saris starting from as low as INR 350 only. You can either ask for a particular type or colour or you can just look around and ask the salesperson to take out the ones that look interesting enough. Most stores here will have similar stuff but according to variety and pricing I have my favourites here.
L Vadamalai Mudaliar & Sons – No. 784
I’ve been visiting this store for the past 7 years and can vouch for their quality. You can get cottons as well as cotton silk saris here along with south cotton bed-sheets and bedcovers. They also keep mundus for men and some cheaper versions of the Kasavu (Kerala Saris). The salesmen are friendly and will be willing to help you gladly. Specify ‘cottons only’ because they have a huge range of polyester saris as well, that are much cheaper but not the real deal. Tie and die, Coimbatore cotton, Kanchee cotton, Pochampalli are some of the varieties they usually keep. While you may not find designer stuff, you will get enough of the more popular styles. You can also get cotton silk blouse pieces separately. They also keep fine quality cotton underskirts that you can instantly match with the sari that you purchase.
Bargaining doesn’t happen unless you do a bulk buy.
NK Muthukomara Mudaliar & sons – No 802
This is another good shop where you will get far more variety. They also keep the latest designs in south cotton. They have half & half sari patterns too that are pretty new. Also, a good variety of Chennai check saris, which look lovely. Quality may vary from piece to piece but cottons are mostly good. Most saris have blouse pieces attached but they also keep cotton blouse pieces separately. Ask for those in case you need an option. The place is huge and the walls have end to end racks for saris, so be patient and keep looking till you find your favorite ones.
Bargaining doesn’t happen here. But there’s no harm in trying.
Others in Mohan Building
Apart from the first two there are many other shops here that have more or less similar stuff. In case you don’t like anything in the ones above you may want to do a quick scan of V Sreenivasan& Son(No 799), Sri Velmurugan Textiles (No 800), P Thandava Mudaliar & Sons (No 803)
Mohan Building has a lot of these shops that are popular amongst their regular clientele’ Once you visit you may end up having one of these as your favorite go to store for all cotton saris. The place has a certain old world charm that is difficult to miss and reminds you of the old ‘bazaars’ of India. The shopkeepers are also simple people unlike the pushy salesmen you meet in fancier stores. I’ve always liked the simplicity of this hidden market and I hope this place appeals to your shopping appetite as much as it does to mine. Happy Shopping!