BHAGALPUR

is an old town on the river Ganges in the central-eastern state of Bihar, India. With poor infrastructure, modern-day Bhagalpur is a poor shadow of the town in the past but remains an important commercial centre. It is an important silk exporter and is popularly known as the silk-city.

It doesn’t have a commercial airport but can be reached by train from Patna (5 hours) or by an overnight train from Kolkata.

SILK ECOSYSTEM

An old, though fragile, ecosystem of silk production and weaving exists in Bhagalpur.

SILK INSTITUTE

There is a silk institute (since 1930), which is tottering on the brink, but continues to produce young textile professionals.

WEAVERS’ CENTER

There is a weavers’s welfare centre housed in an old, impressive building: a reminder of colonial architecture despite the dilapidated condition of the rooms and overgrowth of plants in the compound. The welfare centre was started in 1974 to help local weavers and designers with the support they required to upgrade their skills — technical and commercial.

SILK REARING

The region around Bhagalpur — mainly in Jharkhand, the neighbouring state — has forests with two species of trees, Arjuna and Asan, which shelter moths producing the cocoon used to reel Tasar yarn. These forests are home to various animist tribes who have a ritualistic approach to silk cultivation.

NGOs

A number of NGOs, development agencies and government organisations are involved in promoting cultivation of silk as a means of sustainable livelihood of the community in the region.