Patan Patola Heritage Museum
At a distance of 1 km from Rani ki Vav and 3 km from Patan Railway Station, Patan Patola Heritage is a small private museum located in Patan, Gujarat. Situated near Patan City Museum, it is one of its kind in the world and among the best places of sightseeing in Patan.
Run by the award-winning Salvi family, Patan Patola Heritage Museum came into existence in 2014. Over 3,000 sq. ft of space and three floors, it documents the history of the Patan Patola, a textile that combines techniques of tyeing, dyeing, and weaving. Worn by royals and aristocrats on auspicious occasions, and prized as a holy cloth even in Southeast Asia, the Patola finds mention in the 14th century travel accounts of Ibn Batuta, who gifted Patolas to kings. These sarees were also mentioned in the ‘Kalpsutra’, a 2000-year-old Jain holy book.
This museum is an excellent place to see Patola silk weaving in action as part of Patan tour. It is the house-cum-studio-workshop of a family of master-weavers called the Salvis. The family has specialized in double-ikat weaving since the 11th century over roughly 35 generations. The museum showcases the live demonstration of a Patola saree being woven, get an understanding of the process, photographs of celebrities wearing the Patan Patola, old vegetable dyes, old saris woven by the family, a 200-year-old red Patola frock for a child, Ikat artifacts from other countries, the Salvi family history, and also numerous national awards that the family has won.
The making of Patan Patola sarees is extremely laborious and requires anywhere between five months to one year to create a single saree. Four to five family members work in unison, delicately weaving the unique creation. Another feature of these hand-dyed patolas which makes them stand out is that the feel and look of the fabric are exactly the same from both sides. In the 1930s, the Patola saree costs Rs. 120. Today, the simpler versions of double Ikat saree start from 20,000 and go up to several lakhs depending on the work done and thread used.
About the location: Run by the multiple-award-winning Salvi family, this purpose-built museum is an excellent place to see Patola silk weaving in action. The family has specialised in double-ikat weaving (a process that their ancestors brought from Southeast Asia) since the 11th century. You can observe a demonstration on the loom and compare the family’s craft with beautifully displayed single-ikat textiles from around the world, from Uzbekistan and northern Thailand to Holland.
Brief History: The art of double ikat goes back centuries and is also seen in some of the cave paintings in Ajanta. Legends say that it was in 12 century AD that King Kumarpal of the Solanki dynasty, invited 700 families of patola weavers from Jalna (South Maharashtra) to settle down in Patan in North Gujarat. The Salvi family is one of them. They have continued to preserve this art for the last 35 generations.
How to get there
By Road: Intercity buses from Ahmedabad to Patan take 3.5 hours, and 1 hour from Mehsana. Shared jeeps are slightly quicker, but less comfortable.
By Rail: Patan has its own railway station. Nearby railway station is Mehsana, which is 1 hour away from Patan by bus.
By Air: The nearest airport from Patan is Ahmedabad, situated at a distance of 125 km. The airport here, in turn is connected to International and Indian cities. Patan has a railway station for easy access.