There’s silk and then there’s Benares silk. The fabric of Indian aristocracy for hundreds of years, the textile originated in the city of Varanasi and is distinguished by the workmanship, artistry, and complexity of its woven designs. Almost always embroidered, it ranges from simple cloth with elaborately stitched borders to heavy brocades used mainly as upholstery to the more detailed and rare kinkhawbs, in which the silk itself is barely visible through the dense gold- or silver-threaded patterns. The silks are increasingly difficult to find, but master weaver Girja Shankar has brought together a group of artisans to create pieces of his own design, selling them at his shop, Nilambari Sarees. Shankar and his son, Nikhil, have been instrumental in reviving old Moghul motifs (lotus blossoms, flowering mangoes, trellises), and many of the city’s top fashion designers, like Ritu Kumar and Tarun Tahiliani, commission pieces here. Most stunning is the shikargarh, or hunting-scene sari—scarlet silk embroidered with parrots, elephants, rabbits, lions, tigers, and spear-toting hunters. It takes two weavers 120 days or more to complete the six yards of fabric. From $375 for a sari and from $100 per meter for upholstery brocades. At Square One Mall, Saket District Centre.
From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.
Delhi: The Smoothest Silk
Most Read In Travel
A Beloved Landmark Gets a New Life
The Columns Hotel in New Orleans keeps its old soul in a spectacular unveiling.
The Other Side of Paradise
A traveling writer explores the historic allure and complicated cultural perception of French Polynesia.
A first-time traveler to Africa examines the complicated relationship between safari tourism and conservation.
A Sustainable Future
Three luxury properties provide insight and inspiration for environmentally conscious travelers.
A Cinematic Stay at Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn
Visionary director Francis Ford Coppola’s Belizean mountain retreat and seaside escape.
The Great Spa Towns of Europe
Take a dip into UNESCO’s recently designated therapeutic springs.
Most Read Stories
The Deep Dive
A light conversation with David Lynch on Transcendental Meditation, the unified field, and what happens after we die.
The Perfect Cup
Terra Kaffe’s espresso machine elevates your morning ritual with the press of a button.