The Murshidabad district of West Bengal is well-known for producing silk of excellent quality. The history of silk weaving in this region goes back to the early eighteenth century during the Mughal rule in India, when the Nawab of Bengal, Murshidkuli Khan, shifted his capital from Dhaka (in present day Bangladesh) to a town on the east of the Bhagirathi river, and named it Murshidabad after him.
The Nawab brought with him from Dhaka, the famous art of baluchari weaving, which consisted of weaving elaborate themes depicting the lives of the nawabs on silk sarees. The art was patronized by the Mughals, and continued to flourish during the earlier part of the British rule in India. Then a flooding of the Bhagirathi river in the nineteenth century caused the baluchari weaving trade to shift from Murshidabad to Bishnupur (in the Bankura district of West Bengal).
Today, Murshidabad continues to be home to some of the important silk weaving clusters in the state producing fine silk sarees, shirts and plain silk fabric. Government initiatives to support handloom weavers help to make them more competitive relative to other silk producing regions in India.
The silk sarees from Murshidabad are very fine, light-weight and easy to drape. They are adorned with a variety of printed designs, both modern and traditional, and are good for formal as well as casual wear. Batik-painted designs are also popular on these silk sarees.
A special type of silk sarees from Murshidabad are the garad silk sarees, which are very fine, white or off-white sarees with a plain body and simple coloured borders and pallav.
Murshidabad. In Wikitravel, Retrieved 29 June 2015, from http://wikitravel.org/en/Murshidabad
“Bengal Handloom”, Retrieved 29 June 2015, from http://www.westbengalhandloom.org/htm/beng_hand.html