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Udupi Cotton Saree


Udupi along with Dakshina kannada districts frames the southernmost part of Karnataka state. Udupi district and Dakshina kannada districts of Karnataka state and Kasargodu district of Kerala state together forms “TULU NADU”. These districts are well known for traditional handloom weaving of sarees and fabrics which dates back to 19th century. Weaving was introduced on a commercial scale in the district through the pioneering efforts of Rev.Melz, belonging to Basel Mission, in 1844. Mr. Hallen, a trained weaving specialist who succeeded him in 1851 introduced the first handloom fitted with fly shuttle.

The handloom weaving is a home based cottage industry in Udupi as well as Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. The co-operative movement initiated in erstwhile Madras State in the year 1912 as part of National Movement for the freedom of our country has its waves in erstwhile Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka state. This movement has organised handloom weavers into the co-operative fold. As a result, several handloom co-operative societies were formed much before independence.


Traditional Udupi saree is one of the richest variety of cotton sarees in Karnataka. Handwoven Udupi sarees show incomparable versatility of skilled hands that create them. Woven in Frame looms also known as Malabar looms Udupi sarees exhibit unique class. Sarees with plain solid border, sarees with extra warp and cross border designs add to its uniqueness. The checks sarees with golden or silver threads with contrasting pallu and border strengthens its aesthetics and richness.


Udupi Sarees without doubt display its characteristic to the weaver, his equipment and technique that he employs to create them. The uniqueness of the product, Udupi Sarees, its

production processes.

  • The Handloom industry in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada district has unique reputation of using best quality combed cotton yarn of counts 80" and 60" also Art Silk yarn of 120D for weft.

  • The dye which is predominantly used for dyeing yarn meant for Udupi Saree is Vat dyes. Vat dyes are preferred by manufacturers of Udupi sarees over all other groups of available dyes due to its excellent color fastness property. These dyes are the fastest dyes available for dyeing cellulosic fibres. Udupi Sarees are famous for its luster and color fastness due to the best dyeing quality and techniques.

  • In almost all cases, pallu portion of saree is dyed in dark shade before weaving and weft designs are woven with attractive colors in order to get rich saree pallu. Tie and dye method is applied while preparing the warp. Firstly, entire warp of saree is dyed with one colour and for pallu another type of dye (matching to the body) is applied and the rest of warp yarn is tied using rubber tubes.

  • Since natural materials such as fire wood and coconut shells are used for boiling of yarn and preparation of dye bath etc., there is little pollution and hence eco friendly. Besides, the bristles of brush used for sizing is also specially made from one type of palm tree which prevents damage to yarn.

  • Other important and unique technique widely used in these districts is cut border technique for creating solid borders for saree. (Ref:




Colourful handloom sarees are sought after by almost everyone. But tragically, this industry has come to a screeching halt at several centres in Karnataka. Today, there are 52 weavers and more than 85% of them are above the age of 65. Currently, the people who are running this industry are aged and therefore in a few years, handloom saree might remain just a relic of the past glory. It is almost certain that soon handloom will remain only in books and other records as a symbol of Indian culture. A large number of families which were engaged in handloom industry have backed out of their businesses either because of shortage of information about government facilities or on account of dearth of income arising out of it. (Ref:

Currently, although there is demand for hand-woven sarees, there production has been dwindling. With diminishing number of looms and younger generations refusing to be involved in continuing this tradition the future of Udupi Cotton Saree is bleak. On one side, our country is surging ahead, guided by 'Make in India' concept while on the other, handlooms which were once the pride of the country are precariously poised between survival and doom.

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