places / handlooms / melkote


Temples, ponds and the looms

Around 150 kms from Bangalore, off the Bangalore-Mysore highway lies a picturesque town called Melukote. Melukote in Mandya district in the state of Karnataka (India) is well known for the 2 temples (Yoga Narasimha and the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple), a few picturesque ponds and other smaller shrines. An important centre of the Srivaishnava sect, it is here that the Academy of Sanskrit Research is located. Another place that interests most of the visitors to Melkote has to be one of the many messes in the town where sumptuous food is served. Puliyogare (South-Indian dish – a rice preparation with tamarind pulp and some masalas) is the most sought after dish in this part of the town.

A quick visit to the temple town Melukote was indeed quite engaging even though it was on a hot afternoon. The bright sun in the sky dissuaded us from walking up the hill to visit the Yoganarasimha temple but the tasty puliyogare and sakkarai pongal at Subbanna’s mess gave us enough strength to drive around the town. A trip to this place would be much more interesting with a visit to the Janapada Seva Trust (JST), popularly called as Janapada Khadi, the retail outlet within the heart of the town and their training centre as well as processing and weaving unit ‘Hosa Jeevana Daari’ (Way to a new life), inside the village on Chinakurli road. Established by Smt. Girija Koulagi and Sri. Surendra Koulagi, Janapada Seva Trust, produces fine quality cotton Khadi fabric. Completely hand spun, woven and naturally processed and dyed, they also have the fabric manually stitched. Working on the principles inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, it’s striving not just towards making of the non-violent social order but also in taking care of the welfare, education, employment of their artisans as well as giving that much-needed push to the rural industry, agriculture and environment.  Rich values, honest efforts and dedication towards their work is what exudes during the visit to their handloom unit.

The Khadi spirit means infinite patience
~Mahatma Gandhi

A serene compound, cool breeze around and shade of the trees in the vast expanse of the green farm draws one inside instantly. A few steps inside the compound, the rows of drying yarn and the rhythmic clickety-clack music of the looms guides one towards the tiled-roof structure. Within minutes your curious look will be greeted with a smiling face! The staff will walk you around the place patiently & give you the details.

A few minutes spent in the hall watching the ladies weaving the fabric was fascinating. Deftly managing the threads, their hands in perfect sync with their feet, they wove their stories in the fabric silently even as they watched me peeping into the viewfinder of my camera, from the corners of their eyes. The looms obeyed every command and the fabric seemed to be magically flowing out of the loom. Afternoon sun gushed in from all the windows at the workplace and the thread & looms glowed!

Details of Janapada Khadi can be accessed from their highly informative website –

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