Banaras is the old name for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi is a revered town on the banks of the Ganges and is one of the oldest towns. It has been referred to in the scared texts such as the Upanishads and the Vedas. It is a temple town.
Banaras/ Varanasi became a centre for cotton and silk textile weaving in the 16th century.
Ralph Fitch (1583–91) describes Banaras as a thriving sector of the cotton textile industry.
It was somewhere in the 16th Century when the silk weavers from Gujarat migrated to Varanasi, that silk weaving became popular there. The Mughal rule brought in the influence of brocades and gold & silver threads that was incorporated into the silk weaving. It hence became a speciality of Benaras.
The pure silk, Kora silks and georgette are the main varieties of Banarasi silks. They are one of the best fabrics produced in India.
With many fake or copies of Banarasi silks being mass produced, there has been a lot of unrest in the Weavers Association. It has hence been decided that the silks and sarees produced in the following areas alone will be known as Banarasi silks/sarees.
Banarasi Silks are rich in form & colour with a lot of zari work. Banarasi sarees are popular even today with celebrities such as Anushka Sharma & Sonam Kapoor wearing it at their respective wedding reception.