A Long, Long Time Ago
According to legend The Angadi Saga began nearly six hundred years ago when a group of Padmasaliya weavers, the traditional silk weaving community of South India, migrated from Warangal (situated in modern Andhra Pradesh) to the fertile Tanjore River Delta in what is now Tamil Nadu.
The master weavers soon established a reputation for their craftsmanship in their new home and earned the title of Court Weavers of the Saraboji Maharajah. This title also earned them the family name of the Angadi Vals or the shopkeepers, due to the fact that they were the foremost shopkeepers of the area and so began the legacy of the Angadi family.
The Birth of an Empire
In the early 1900s Radhakrishnan Chettiar along with his brothers R. Thiruvengadam and Saranatha Chettiar moved to the port city of Madras in search of green pastures. Here the brothers capitalized on their mastery of silk by establishing a strong wholesale business, catering to retailers and the aristocratic class of South India. With an ever growing demand, the brothers slowly drifted into retail trade – with the establishment of their first retail store – R.K.T. & Bros.
Mr Raman, the Silken Genius
In 1954, Mr R. Kothandaraman (popularly known as R.K. Raman) took control of the family business. Under his guidance, the company became the market leader in the organized retailing of the silk in South India.
Pioneers in the Industry
Mr Raman modernized the family’s traditional handloom business and created the first fully integrated handloom weaving facility for silk in India.
With his pioneering vision R.K. Raman modernised silk weaving in India, which was until then primarily a cottage industry into a modern and organised manufacturing setup. Set against the agrarian landscape of The Tanjore District, the family’s weaving facilities served as an example of entrepreneurship in post Independent India. Thanks to the family’s modernisation of weaving the entire village of Tirucherai (the ancestral home of the Angadi Vals) was amongst the first to receive the then modern conveniences of electricity and telephone services in the late 1950s.
While the family’s pre-eminence in the affairs of the Tanjore District’s business community was always the stuff of legend, the crowning moment of the Angadi family’s proud history was the visit of the then World Bank President, Robert McNamara to the family’s weaving facilities on his tour of South India in the 1960s.
Backed by an incredibly strong creative and manufacturing backbone the family’s retail firmament scaled new heights. The capability to design and manufacture the most unique fabrics attracted a long retinue of loyal clientele The firm established itself as the preferred destination for the artistocracy. Heads of state, royalty, film stars and industrialists took pride in owning beautifully crafted Angadi products.
Angadi Goes Abroad
Success in the handloom and retail business was followed by the family’s entry into the Export market. In the early 50’s Mr Raman was chosen to be a member of the Indian Textile delegation participating at the World Trade Fair at Chicago. At the conclusion of the fair he was the recipient of record orders for a variety of cotton and silk fabrics including the famed Madras Checks and he soon established himself as the single largest exporter of this much loved fabric.