The magic of handloom is back to warm the crisp winter air at Harshakala 2011

It's funny how we'll watch out for “end-of-season” sales of international brands at malls, but not even know of our own traditional weaves being sold at throwaway prices in our backyards.

Here's your chance to set that lopsided shopping bag right. Harshakala 2011, the national handloom exhibition, is on at Palace Grounds and it is one place where you'll be nodding your head thinking, “old is gold”.

For starters, this exhibition will prove to be heaven for sari lovers, simply because there is so much variety to be gleaned from.

Gorgeous cotton and silk saris vie for attention — be it Bengal's tussars with kantha embroidery, or our own silks from Tumkur and Gadag, or traditional Pochampally and Chungdi cottons. You will be amazed by the varieties and combinations that have evolved on the looms.

All you need is some patience to look into each of the 100-odd stalls and find what you've always been dreaming of. Over 73 handloom agencies from across the country are participating, including weavers co-operatives from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa and more.

Karnataka has a decent presence with stalls by weavers from Mysore, Chitradurga, Gadag, Haveri, Tumkur, Chikkaballapur, Mandya, Bagalkot, and others. From Karnataka's stalls you can be assured that you'll get some of the most reasonable deals on bedsheets (some as low as Rs. 80 for a single sheet!), towels, blouse materials, Molkalmoor and Ilkal saris, silks and zari saris from towns near Bangalore, sheep-wool yoga mats (between Rs. 180 and 280) and carpets etc.

The range of products is another plus — for the home there are bed sheets, pillow cases, diwan sets, razhais, sheep-wool blankets and throws, carpets and running material that can be turned into curtains… or saris! There was even one smart stall-owner who had a “special offer for the day”.

Beautiful hand-embroidered white handkerchiefs, the thin cotton bath towels to dry your hair, crochet bedspreads and waistcoats — all will probably remind you of mom and grandmom.

Readymades are also aplenty — whether it is khadi shirts for men or designer kurtas for women, and traditional ghagras and kurta-pajamas for the tots. There are overwhelming temptations for the upcoming summer — Lucknowi chikan kurtas in pristine white with white embroidery, Kashmiri crewel embroidery on whites, white Bengal cottons woven in the Dhakai style with a delicate interlacing of pastels, airy-fairy chiffon-chinon saris from Kashmir, Kota cottons in floral and paisley weaves.

It's a good idea to carry cash as the artisans seem unhappy accepting credit/debit cards due to a knotty process involved in getting their money.

Harshakala is on at Palace Grounds (Gayathri Vihar entrance, near Mekhri Circle) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. till February 8.