As someone who loves fabrics and colours – a trip to a silk factory was an exciting idea. we took an autorickshaw there and as we approached our driver pointed out rows of two story bungalows. he said these are the homes of the factory workers – over 2500 of them. the production of silk cloth goes on 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
after checking in our bags (no cameras – sorry – no pictures!) we walked into a complex of a dozen one story buildings with wide walkways between them. we soon realised there was no guide and no tour and we had no idea where to go or how to start, so we poked our heads into the first building.
basically our ‘tour’ was walking around and through buildings and where someone spoke English and had the inclination and/or time, we would find out something. the only part of the process from cocoon to fabric that we didn’t see was taking the first filament off the cocoons. we entered a large, warehouse-size building with probably thousands of spindles being filled up with silk filaments. we could not actually see the silk going on to the spindle – we could only see that the spindle was filling up with it. only when a woman stopped to mend a broken piece, did I get the chance to feel and see the filament, by turning it in the light and catching the reflective surface. the noise was quite loud in this vast room.
then people pointed us out one door and we went to another building where about 10 filaments from these spindles were being brought together to make a silk thread. and these threads were being pulled onto a larger spool.
in the next building we saw them making gold thread and then we went into the actual weaving room. the noise was so huge we could not talk but observed hundreds of heavy duty mechanised machines taking all the threads, the pattern boards and the looms and producing sari-width silk fabric.
we visited the rooms where the fabric was dyed in huge concrete vats, where it was dried and where it was cut up and packaged.
one of the most amazing parts of this experience was that there were no boundaries or signs or anything (!) between us and all this incredible powerful machinery and hundreds of workers. we talked to people when they stopped to talk to us. we stood right next to pounding, powerful huge pieces of machinery that would mince your arm before you ever saw it coming. there was one large area where about a hundred threads were speeding over a distance of about 20 feet onto a 15×8 foot roller. if we had not entered slowly and watchfully we easily could have walked right into these threads as they are virtually invisible. it took a moment to see that there was any connection between these 2 big machines. so needless to say we were very careful to keep ourselves safe and to not interfere with, or disrupt in any way, what was going on all around us.