Till about 15 years ago, the sarees from Kuthampully were found only in nearby cities and towns and was coveted by many who lived in the central and south Kerala. There was a difference in the saree borders woven in Kuthampully making it really attractive. One may wonder how much variation can the set mundu/ saree design have but the subtle variation made a lot of difference. Difference enough to warrant people travelling to Kuthampully to buy sets and sarees in bulk prior to a wedding. Or one could wait for the exhibitions held across the state prior to Onam and there was atleast one stall selling the Kuthampully set mundu.
The first time I heard about this place was from my husband, Kuthampully is near my husband's place in Kerala and I was excited to go there the minute he mentioned it. I wanted to see and feel the place and getting sarees straight from the maker added to my pleasure.
We first visited Kuthampully about 10 years ago, there were a lot of small shops with stacks of set mundus and sarees packed in cellophane arranged in metal shelves. These shops seemed to be set up to cater to bulk buyers without display tables or window displays, etc. On entering the store we most often saw a few employees packing cartons of sets or sarees for despatch. Of course they welcomed the individual customers like us and giving a 10% discount to all customers seemed to be the norm at all shops. There were small one and two room houses behind these stores where we saw the residents weaving. Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera and could not take any pictures. The shops were more like co-op societies and giving employment to the residents of the weaving village.
We went to Kuthampully again last year just to look around and discovered that it looked different, with a lot of shop fronts set up the same way like before but with no weavers around. We found mundus and sarees with silver kasavu karaa, set sarees woven with tissue threads giving it a gold sheen and bright colored karaas, I guess these are the latest trends. I bought a couple of sarees, sets, mundus and salwar kameez sets to add to my collection before returning home happy. Above are pictures of my tissue set saree, salwar suits and mundus I bought from Kuthampully.