Trust parents to always know what their children like and want. When my father was looking for a particular type of fabric called kora cotton that his sister had asked him to get, his search led him to Maharashtra Stores in Budhwar Peth, Pune. When I visited Pune, my father told me that I should visit this store and was sure I was going to love it. And did I love it! These days when I consider a day well spent when I have worked with fabric, imagine my happiness when I see 5 floors full of fabric. That is Maharashtra Stores for you.
As you enter the store you are greeted by pictures of India's leaders and freedom fighters. I met the owner Mr. Hiten Jerajani who told me that the store was established in September 1924 by his late grandfather Mr. Liladhar Premji Jerajani - a freedom fighter himself. It started as Maharashtra Khadi Bhandar when it opened and later during the Swadeshi Movement the name was changed to Maharashtra Swadeshi Stores. I was also told that during this time cloth was sold against ration cards and long queues of people waiting to buy fabric was not uncommon. In 1950 the store was renamed Maharastra Stores. There is still an old world charm to this store. The staff is courteous and helpful and the owner himself is extremely generous with his information.
An amazing range of fabric is available at this store. Here is a sneak peek.
Cotton Drill : This is sturdy cotton fabric and is available in various thicknesses. The price ranges from Rs.45 to Rs.150 per metre
Mulmul : Mulmul is lightweight, breathable cotton fabric which has been around for hundreds of year. It is great for summer clothing since it absorbs moisture and keeps the wearer cool. It can be dyed easily and gets softer with every wash. There is a whole range of mul fabric at the store with prices ranging from Rs.15 to Rs.75 per metre. I bought some printed mulmul and it is super soft.
Lawn: Lawn is lightweight ,semi-sheer cotton fabric and doesn't have a lot of drape. Think kurtas worn by our politicians.
Longcloth : Longcloth is pure cotton fabric which is slightly thicker than poplin. It also refers to unbleached cotton fabric before it undergoes any kind of processing. The term longcloth is specific to India.
Apart from the types of cotton mentioned above they also have a nice range of regular cotton fabric and suiting and shirting fabric.
The store also stocks woollen dhotis (men's garment) which have been traditionally used during poojas (religious rituals) since wool is considered to be pure. This is one of the very few shops to stock them. These dhotis are made by a family in a remote village in the Saurashtra region in Western India. Below is a picture of a woollen dhoti.
Cashmilon : Similar to cotswool that was available in India earlier, this fabric is made of acrylic fibre and helps keep the wearer warm. Good for jackets and skirts.
Wool fabric : The store also stocks 100 percent wool fabric.
Other fabrics include corduroy, satin, flannel, denim, net fabric, military uniform fabric and turkish towel fabric.
And if you thought there was only fabric here, the store also has blankets made of pure wool or acrylic, bedsheets in soft cotton, curtains, cushion covers, dhurries and Solapur bedsheets.
whose top flap when opened serves as a passage for fabric bought.
And the fabric lands on the cashier's counter! This is the top view. I think this practice is unique to Pune. I haven't seen this anywhere else and have always been amused by this.
My love for fabric grows stronger thanks to stores like these. Now to plan some interesting projects with all the fabric I bought.