Dhaka fabric hold a special place in Nepalese Lifestyle. It has been in every Nepalese head as Dhaka Topi, a special cap used by male members of Nepalese society. Not only limited to Dhaka Topi, Dhaka has many other products like Dhaka Shawl, Choli (Blouse for Nepalese cultural dress), Sari, Kurta and many more. Dhaka is widely available in Nepalese market these days but once it was only made in Palpa district of western Nepal. Thus, it is more popular as Palpali Dhaka.
How Dhaka made its entry in Nepal? Funny enough as it sounds, Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh. Is there any connection between Dhaka fabric and Capital city of Bangladesh? These are some of the questions commonly asked by many Dhaka lovers.
Nepal has long history and tradition of weaving cloth. The history of cloth weaving in Palpa dates back to the Magarat era. At that time, majority of household had cloth weaving looms in Palpa because of which the cloth woven in palpa was referred as ‘home-woven’. This ‘home-woven’ culture of weaving cloth has now vanished in the vast ocean of history. The loom used to make ‘hand-woven’ cloth was made from a type of salla tree (pine tree) that is known as Tangsing in Magari language. The timber is widely found in Palpa district. It is said that because of this the district headquarter was called Tangsing in Magar, which went to became Tansen in present days.
According to ECS Nepal, Tulsi Meher, who had been sent by Shree Teen Chandra Shumsher at his expenses to Varda in India to learn to make khadi, returned to Nepal after doing so, as per Chandra Shumsher’s wish, established the Chandra Kamdhenu Charkha Pracharak Mahaguthi in 1983 B.S.
The article further states that, the Mahaguthi established branched in different parts of country. At this time, Devi Prashad Pradhan of Palpa, who had come into contact with Tulsi Meher, took the initiative to bring four handloom workers from Kathmandu and began weaving cloth in Palpa. Because the cloth was woven in thicker looms, and the investment cost were higher due to less production, they could not compete with finely woven cloth from outside. Thus the weaving work came to halt in Palpa.
Once again in 2015 B.S., a man named Ganesh Man Maharjan, who had returned to Nepal after learning to weave cloth in India established a textile industry in Palpa named Swodesi Bastrakala Palpali Dhaka. In addition to market problems, raw materials had to be bought from India and it was difficult to compete against the finer quality imported fabrics which led to difficulty in sustain of this industry. In 2019 B.S., Maharjan who had gone to Kathmandu for training, observed that Shree Teen Janga Bahadur Rana’s daughter Dambar Kumari, who lived in Banaras (Varanasi) in India used a special kind of colorful, fine and valuable textile fabric called ‘Dhaka fabric’ which was made in a place called Dhaka in the then undivided State of Bengal.
This fabric was known as ‘Dambar Kumari Dhaka’ in Nepal as was used by Rana families and other wealthy classes. Having caught his attention by ‘Dambar Kumari Dhaka’, he returned to Palpa and adopted the technology to weave Dhaka in Palpa. This is how the attractively colored and patterned ‘Palpali Dhaka’ was born.
With many challenges and difficulties in the beginning, overcoming the challenges of inconvenient transportation facilities, market problems, less production and many other difficulties, Palpali Dhaka succeeded in establishing its own identity all over the country form 2024 B.S. Many other Dhaka Industries were established and Dhaka Production boomed in Palpa District.
ESC Nepal, Palpali Dhaka|Features|ESCNEPAL – The Nepali Way, ESC Media Pvt. Ltd., Link: http://ecs.com.np/features/palpali-dhaka, Visited on: 17th April, 2021.
Inside Himalayas, The fascinating story of Palpali Dhaka Cloth – Inside Himalayas, Inside Himalayas and Royal Mountain Travel, Link: https://www.insidehimalayas.com/fascinating-story-palpali-dhaka-cloth/, Visited on: 17th April, 2021.
Interview with Chairman of Palpali Dhaka Association, Wife of Late Ganesh Man Maharjan, Mrs. Purna Maya Maharjan.