Solapur Textile History
  • It was during the Maratha rule ofthe Deccan that Peshwa Madhavrao-I (1761-1772 A.D.) invited hereditary weaver communities of Koshtis, Salis and Sangars to settle in Solapur,on the promises ofland-grants and State patronage. Soon their products 112 like sheets, quilts, waistcloths, robes and turbans began enjoying immense popularity in the Deccan States and the Nizam country.

  • It was probably the reputation ofthese skilled textile craftsmen that prompted Seth Moraiji Gokuldas of Mumbai to establish his Solapur Spinning & Weaving Mills in the city in March, 1877. Soon, other composite textile mills followed - Narsing Giraji Manufacturing Limited and Laxmi Cotton Mills Limited (1898), Vishnu Cotton Mills Limited (1908) and Shree Jam Ratansingji Mills (1909).

  • With these, the city began accumulating its reputation as a ‘Mill Town’ (Giron Gaon in Marathi). The typical feature of the city then was that on the one hand, there was a flourishing handloom industry catering to the needs ofthe rural population; on the other, composite mills were producing fancy saris for the urban classes. Both existed side-byside without squabbles.

  • The cooperative societies’ Act of 1925 came to the rescue ofthe handloom owners to save them from the clutches ofthe private moneylenders. After Independence, on the patronage ofthe Government, the handloom sector was nearly fully cooperativized. In 1949, Solapur District Industrial Cooperative Bank was established to promote industrial growth, including the growth of textile sector. In 1962, a federation of the weavers’ cooperatives was set up thatspearheaded the weavers’ demands forthe supply offinance and raw materials. In 1964, Solapur Cooperative Spinning Mills, and in 1967, Yeshawant Cooperative Spinning Mills, were established to meet the weavers’ cooperatives’ needs of various yarn varieties at reasonable prices. During the period from 1960 to 1980, Solapur city’s industrialization picked up a new momentum.

  • In the meantime, due to the lack of modernization, the pioneer Mill of Seth Gokuldas closed down in 1964. Laxmi Vishnu Mill also followed the suit. Both these Mills, in their heyday, used to produce, along with other textiles items, quality Jacquard Chaddars. In fact, formore than a generation and half, Solapuri Chaddar was a household name in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana. At around the time of the closure of these two Mills, handloom weaving in the city was passing through a very slack period 113 due to the increasing competition from the outstation mill sector and the handloom weavers in the city were very worried about their future.

  • The old Jacquard Chaddarweaving looms from the closed Mills were being sold at throwaway prices. The handloom weavers purchased these looms, restored them to full operational status and recaptured the slipping away Solapuri Chaddar market. Thus, the powerloom textile industry was bom in Solapur. Later on, the competition increased within the Chaddar segment also; hence, in 1964-65, one Kshirsagar family diversified into the production of terry towels on their four powerlooms. This diversification, ofcourse, needed modified powerlooms, which challenge was alsometsuccessfully by the innovative powerloom weavers. Today, Solapur city is equally reputed for its terry towels.

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