Chennai is known for many things - home of the best team in the IPL, the second longest beach in the world and of course, the best milky filter coffee you’ve ever tasted. But still, mention the city to a bride and the first thing she’d think of is a silk saree.
An absolute trousseau essential, silk sarees come in all styles and weaves, but Chennai is famous for its village cousin’s eponymous style, the Kanjivaram Saree.
Normally adorned with temple motifs and solid zari weaves, the Kanjivaram is a strong representative of the South Indian culture - straightforward and no-nonsense but with a strong sense of identity. But did you know that Kanjivarams and southern silks come in a whole variety ranging from the bridal kind to the simple printed ones? And did you know that the key to identifying a good silk saree is seeing how well it drapes? The stiffer the saree, the cheaper the quality of material used, so beware.
And while Nalli Silks is synonymous with great sarees, amazing quality and good prices, a trip to Chennai warrants a closer look at the (not-so) hidden gems in the city. A visit to the shopping hub T-Nagar is essential but overwhelming. At the same time, time may not be a luxury you can afford, and T-Nagar needs ample amounts of patience to boot.
So here is a list of shops that you can consider according to your style and taste, in a range of different budgets.
What’s the first thing a Chennai bride does when she gets engaged? Visit Tulsi Silks. Where’s the first place a mother goes when her child agrees to the prospect of marriage? To Tulsi Silks of course. Where are there high risks of the best friend falling prey to unwarranted spending? Yes, at Tulsi Silks. Known wide and far to carry the best, and most unique range in the city, locals swear by this place and for good reason. If there was only one place you could go to, make sure this is it. See more on their website
One of the oldest and most well known stores in the city, if you want the guarantee of good quality against a reasonable price then this is the place you should visit. What’s great is that apart from the usual Kanjivaram offerings, there are many other silk styles available here right from Patolas to Uppadas, Mysore silks to Kota Sarees. With a Paithani range starting around Rs. 7,000, it isn’t a bad bargain at all! See more on their website
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For the millennial brides who don’t get the deal about tradition, but are tagging along with their moms anyway - this might be the middle ground. With a strong emphasis on unique designs, Sri Palam Silks has a stunning array of young, trendy designs that are hard to find elsewhere. They come with a new collection often and get this - most of it is available online. So until you can make it to the city, you know what to do! See more on their website
Looking for a variety of silk sarees, but don’t want to frequent the usual mass market stores? At the same time, keen on not breaking the bank? Lakshmi is your best bet at finding an exclusive saree. Centrally located, away from the hustle of T - Nagar, the sarees here are understated, and specially curated keeping in mind the sophisticated customer. If that sounds like you, then this might be your only pitstop. See more on their website
If a regal, unique and pure quality Kanjivaram is your priority and shelling out the bills isn’t a concern, you’ve got to check out Kanakavalli. Shopping here is an experience in itself - housed in a colonial style bungalow, there is a strong nod to culture and heritage in every aspect of the store. And yes, in the sarees too. Handpicked by the owner, the sarees here are truly one of a kind, and will not disappoint the discerning customer. See more on their website
Hope you found this helpful, and will make time for shopping in Chennai during your next Tirupati-visit layover! Until then, tell us in the comments below -
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