Trailing the “Silk Route” with Bengaluru-by-Foot.

It’s been long that I had set my foot beyond the city limits and that didn’t quite go well with my itchy feet. I was desperately looking for some weekend treks on eventshigh.com and that’s when I found out about Nagarathpete Pettah Walk hosted by Bengaluru-by-foot. It wasn’t the first time I heard or read about them as I am constantly hunting for ways to explore more of this city. So with no second thought, I hit on ‘book’ option.

And hence the Saturday morning began on a happy note, all thanks to Mansoor Ali, the man who has been helping people like me to make some sense out of their weekends. An architect by profession and historian by choice, Mansoor holds heritage walks in Bengaluru every weekend. Mansoor was inspired by similar Heritage walks that he used to attend in Delhi. The agenda of this was to take a deeper look into the crumbling settlement of the silk dyers. Nagarathpete is predominantly occupied by the weaver, dyers, whole sellers, and testers of silk yarn.

This tiny hamlet in Bengaluru, majorly famous for the Karaga festival and the Dharamaraya Temple, bears more history to it than your eyes see, and I would have still been oblivious to if it wasn’t Mansoor.

He narrated the legends of the beheading of Sayed Muhib Shah and the tombless dargah, the tales of the martyrdom of thousands of Mysorain soldiers and of course the rise and fall of these tiny settlements who have survived the wrath of time.

We began our walk from the Baba Sharfuddin Dargah which took me by awe with its astoundingly intricate mirror work. Thanks to my habit of sleeping late, I missed out on the briefing of the history. Before this, I had never set for inside any Islamic religious place.

Baba Sharfuddin Dargah,
Mansoor briefing us on the history of Sufism and Islam.

As we blindly followed Mansoor into the narrow rustic lanes of Nagarathpete, I got into some small talks with my fellow visitor who also was an artist and played with organic colours to dye fabric. Even small talks can reveal so much about the way one thinks. We finally reached what was supposed to be the focal point of the walk, the unit of the silk yarn dyers.

A tiny room tucked in a corner of one of the many narrow lanes there, this was a typical two roomed house with around ten odd men working at different stages of the tiresome process of reeling and dying the silk yarn. The entrance was used for drying and sorting the coloured yarn, but the adjoining room was where the real work happened. The room wore a blanket of dense fumes that rose from the steaming hot baths where the yarn was dipped for dyeing. The sight was as spectacular as it was straining. Spending just five minutes in that room left me sweating and burning. Needless to mention the hardships these craftsmen are subjected to. Going forward we had a chance to visit the weavers who constantly work amidst the noisy mechanical looms.

We visited the famous Dharamaraya Swami Temple and a few more dargahs which have some really interesting legends attached to them.  And finally, the walk ended with a hearty meal and some catching up of facts from the past which I had missed at the beginning of the walk.

I am not a huge fan of the pub culture in Bangalore but these stories preserved in the bylanes of such hamlets are what give some solace to the explorer in me.

Hoping to explore more and share my stories with you soon.

Till then keep wandering 🙂