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Paithan > Places Around

[ Paithani Sarees | Himroo Shawls ]

Paithan DamForty-Eight Kilometers south of Aurangabad, reached by Bus is Paithan, visited by the greek traders from 400 to 200 BC. Today is the centre of the ancient industry of gold and silver threaded embroidery for which the motifs are derived from the Ajanta caves.

Paithan, formerly Pratishthana, was the capital of the Satavahana empire of ancient India. It is located within 50 kilometres of present-day Aurangabad on the Godavari River in Maharashtra. Paithan was home of the great Maharashtrian saint Eknath, whose tomb can be found there. The town is mostly famous today for its sarees - the Paithani. A major dam is also located near Paithan.

The ancient city and pilgrimage center of Paithan is situated on the banks of the Godavari, 56 kms south of Aurangabad. The Marathi poet sant Eknath lived here and several centuries ago. Paithan was famous as a seat of learning. It is also well known for the beautiful 'Paithani' silk sarees with intricate zari borders. Of special interest to nature lovers are the gardens around the Jayakwadi Dam nearby where observation points enable you to watch resident and migratory birds.

The other points of interest are :

  • Jain Temple, Temple of Sant Eknath, on the banks of Godavari river, Samadhi of Sant Eknath, and of Navnath.
  • Situated at the bank of a river is a very huge dam "Jaykwadi", which provides water to Aurangabad City and Surrounding Places.
  • Recently built is a famous "Sant Eknath Garden" spread over huge 97 acres of land. This is a replica of the Vrindavan Gardens of Mysore, and is used to shoot various scenes for the Hindi and Marathi Movies.

Paithani Sarees:
PaithaniKnown the world over as a poem hand woven in silk and gold, Paithani Sarees are for those with discerning and refined taste. The art of weaving Paithani flourished in 200 B.C., during satvahana era. Since then paithani is coveted in India as a precious heirloom passing on from generation to generation. Exquisite Silk from Paithani was exported to many countries and was traded in return for gold and precious stones. Shear dedication and the faith of the weavers has kept alive paithani silk work for more than 2000 years. Real paithani is hand woven in pure silk and gold / silver. Intricate designs on Pallu and border is a speciality of paithani sarees. Motifs on pallu are generally peacock, parrot, lotus, mango and other designs taken from Ajanta Caves. Traditional creative artistry and painstaking workmanship combine to form this unique cloth. Paithani sarees can take between 2 months to 2 years to manufacture, depending on border and pallu design and costs from Rs. 6000/- to Rs. 500,000. The Paithani Sarees are available at all major textile outlets and the Paithani weaving Center ( Opp. MGM Hospital) in the city of Aurangabad.

The Paithani of Maharashtra is not just a silk sari of gorgeous colours, intricate design and painstaking labour. It is part of a culture given more to thrift than flamboyance, but which also treasured elegance and beauty. It tells us of a people who were willing to spend lavishly to clothe their womenfolk in nine yards of the traditional silk and spun gold, crafted by indigenous weavers, especially on festive occasions. No Maharashtrian wedding trousseau was complete without the Paithani sari and shela or stole, the best the family could afford. They then became treasured heirlooms, which could be preserved and worn by three generations of women, fragrant with memories. They represent the continuity of tradition, as we see in the verses from Shanta Shelke's poem. True, the Paithani brings nostalgia, but it also instils a sense of pride - and security. It is part of the ritualistic bonding of a whole community.

Talk about Paithani and the Maharashtrian's eye will light up. She will assure you that the art is 2000 years old, developed in the then splendid city of Pratishthan ruled by the legendary Shalivahana (now Paithan by the Godavari in Marathwada, some 50 km from Aurangabad). In the far past it had been an international trade centre for silk and zari. Traditional Paithani sari from the Vishwakarma collection.

During the Bhakti period, Paithan developed into a renowned dharmapeeth or religious centre. It was here that the father of saint Gnaneshwar came to perform a penance, to be free from the sin of having fathered children by returning to married life, after taking the vows of renunciation. The village boasts of a temple to saint Eknath which attracts pilgrims.

Literature, both classical and folk, testifies to the existence of Paithani silk even before the Mughal age, though the last munificent patrons were the Peshwa rulers. The men wore the stole over their dhoti and kurta, while their women were resplendent in Paithani saris at weddings, festivals and religious ceremonies. Niloufer, daughter-in-law of the late Nizam of Hyderabad, was one of the last of the erstwhile royals to be fascinated by the Paithani magic.

As with most of the traditional arts and crafts of India, Paithani too suffered a decline under the British Raj. Once there were over 500 families practising this hereditary art which required high technical skill and aesthetic sense. And tremendous discipline to do the slow, tedious work. Their migrations began with Muslim aggressions. The khatri community of weavers got scattered in search of work and settled down to whatever they found.

PaithaniWhat is Paithani?
It is fabric woven entirely on handlooms, disdaining to use even the jacquard or jala. Its special dhoop-chaav (light and shade) effect is achieved by bringing two different coloured silk threads together in the process of a simple tabby weave. It has an ornamental zari border and pallav, and buttis (little designs) of tara (star), mor (peacock), popat (parrot), kuyri (mango), rui phool (flower) paisa (coin), pankha (fan), kalas pakli (petal), kamal (lotus), chandrakor (moon), narli (coconut) and so on. Many of these designs are found on the border and pallav in different sizes and patterns. The designs show the influence of the beauteous panels of Ajanta close by. The dominant traditional colours of vegetable dyes included neeligunji (blue), pasila (red and green), gujri (black and white), mirani (black and red), motiya (pink), kusumbi (purplish red) and pophali (yellow).

In the olden days the zari was drawn from pure gold. It had a classic grandeur sans garishness. Silver is the affordable substitute today. The zari comes from Surat, the resham (silk) from Bangalore. This raw silk is cleansed with caustic soda, dyed in the requisite shades, the threads carefully separated. Today's market also abounds in spurious material, cheap at Rs. 2000, minus quality texture and durability.

The sari takes its own time to get woven, from two weeks to a year, depending on the intricacy of the pattern. The cost can be anything from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 50,000. Saris worth over a lakh of rupees apiece are made to order. The finer work being extremely taxing prevents more than three hours of sitting at the loom per day. The weaver's son may take over the task in a second shift. Women do not weave, though they help with other processes like washing and dyeing.


Himroo Shawls :
Himroo ShawlsHimroo Weaving is brought to Aurangabad by Mohmmad Tughlak when he shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. The designs for Himroo were Persian designs and cloth was silk - cotton and silk - gold/silver. Himroo weaving is very typical and is generally done by two weavers. One weaver has to pull the design threads and master weaver has to weave with two - three colour threads. Aurangabad Himroo was used by royal famillies and it is said that Himroo was sent to royal families in Delhi also. Now a days there are very few weavers making above type of shawls. However some artists make Himroo shawls with punch card and jaquards. Designs are same traditional Ajanta and Taj Mahal inlay work. Folk designs depicting elephant, peacock, parrot, etc are also used . Original Himroo shawls take about three weeks whereas hand woven punch card shawls take about 4 - 5 days to make and cost between one thousand to three thousand depending upon design. Mandala design from Ajanta ceiling and Ajanta lotus designs as well as Taj Mahal designs are very famous. The Himroo Shawls are available at all major textile outlets and the Paithani weaving Center ( Opp. MGM Hospital) in the city of Aurangabad.

Situated 56 kms south of Aurangabad, is the ancient capital city of the Satvahanas, Paithan famous for its traditional Paithani silk saris. The Jayakwadi dam here is a haven for avid nature lovers. The huge Gyaneshwar Udyan, Maharashtra's largest garden is another attraction of this area. Paithani silk saris are renowned with exquisite zari borders. A visit to the weavers' workshop is fascinating and one can order a customised saree as well. Today, it is also an important excavation site. Centuries ago, the famous Marathi poet - saint, Eknath lived here. Legend links Paithan with Shalivahana who made it the capital of the Satavahana kingdom in AD 78. The most picturesque aspect of Paithan are the bathing Ghats - the oldest structures in the city. Since early times Paithan has been a religious centre of considerable importance, being the birth place of a number of Hindu Saints, like Bhanudas, Mukteshwar and Eknath, known for their piety and learning. Many shrines within the town and along the riverbank are connected with the lives of these holy men.


General Information & Accomdation info on Paithan city of Maharashtra - India

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