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Shopping comprises an undeniable part of travel. If it happens to be an Indian vacation, friends and family expect you to bring them small gifts and souvenirs. Indian handicrafts and textiles are world famous and no one can return empty handed.
India is a vast country and it is impossible to see the entire country in a few days. You will have to confine your sightseeing to just a few places. After all the sightseeing and soaking in the culture of the touristy places, you will definitely want to take back something to remember.
Here, I have compiled a simple and easy to understand list of things to keep in mind while shopping in India
1● The most important thing is to know that you will be quoted exorbitant rates for everything.
Tourists are quoted very high rates for everything. This is a given and it is not confined to India alone. Without naming other countries, this is something I have been through personally on my travels.
So be cautious and don’t part with your hard earned money easily. Every second shop will be quoting a different price.
2● Bargain, bargain and bargain!
I can’t emphasize this more. Here, your bargaining skills will come handy. If you have local friends, take their help or take your time to haggle for the best price.
Do not part with your money on the first offer. It’s better to walk away without purchasing anything than get conned by unscrupulous people.
See, shopkeepers around the world quote high prices for all tourists. This is their way to make quick money. Haggle for everything.
Here, I have shortlisted a few popular things you can shop for friends and family, also souvenirs to take back as a token of remembrance from India.
3● It is better to shop from Fixed Price Shops.
This is for people who don’t want to bargain.
These shops are few and far between, but you will find a few in every market. Do extensive research on the markets. You can ask your guide or hotel and restaurant folks to suggest a few places.
Again remember, do not believe anyone blindly and part with your money. Here the intention is not to alarm you but make your stay as comfortable as possible.
4● Try the Government owned shops and emporium.
These are fixed price shops. They are a bit expensive but they sell authentic stuff. You can find great textiles, ready-made clothes, decor items, jewelry, handicrafts, leather goods, footwear, home decor, essence, sandalwood items, precious stones and metal items. They also offer great sarees, bedsheets bedcovers, tablecloths, tablerunners, dupattas, stoles, skincare products and Khadi items.
Check out your area for Government shops and emporium. Khadi shops are also a great place to shop for authentic Indian textiles, footwear and other knick knacks. These are fixed price shops and you can be spared of the hassle of bargaining.
The Cottage Emporium is a one stop shop for all authentic Indian stuff. It has a huge off line store in New Delhi. You would absolutely love it. I have been shopping there since 4 decades. I highly recommend it for its authenticity.
The above mentioned link is for authentic Gujrati textiles like Bandhini and Bandhej. Also, you can purchase trinkets, mirror work items and other handicrafts from their wide variety of products. If you are keen to buy sarees, they have a large variety.
This link is for Madhya Pradesh emporium. Here, you can pick up Bagh print textiles( cotton and silk) and ethereal Maheshwari fabrics and sarees.
The above link is for Kashmiri shawls and handicrafts.
This link is for Karnataka state emporium. They sell silk products and handicrafts. You can get genuine sandalwood items here.
The above link is for genuine Khadi products.
You can check out these links for authentic, hassle free shopping. These are Government of India stores.
5● My 5th point is what are the items to buy in India as a reminder of your travel.
● Clothes or textiles
A gorgeous Banarasi stole (silk)
This ravishing yellow golden Banarasi silk stole is from my personal collection. I use it for special occasions and enjoy wearing it. It always fetches me tons of compliments.
Click on this link for authentic Banarasi textiles
Traditional Stole or Scarf:
These make a perfect souvenir for you and your loved ones .They are light weight and reasonably priced. You don’t have to worry about excess baggage at the airport. They come in vibrant colors, patterns and designs. Another plus in it’s favour is they will be used and not gather dust on a shelf back home.
A tie and dye stole from Rajasthan or Gujarat( These states of India are famous for tie and Dye products). The stoles are light weight and can be paired with all clothes.
This lovely tie and dye( Bandhani) stole is also from my personal collection.
Bandhini and Banarasi are a must for all tourists. These products are readily available in all cities.
Traditional Kurta, Khadi Shirt, Block print skirt or top:
This is my favorite part. Try to pick up a traditional Indian outfit, scarf or stole to remind you of India. It also makes a very stylish gift. You can choose from a variety of cottons and silk . Naturally dyed hand block prints are very trendy.
If you are keen to purchase a saree, all emporium have a large variety. Dilli Haat also has beautiful sarees from all States of India. You can purchase shirts, skirts, jackets, scarfs, stoles and woolen shawls from here.
This is a fashion jwellery piece that I possess. These are quite reasonably priced as they are not made of precious metals. Such trinkets make good gifts and you don’t have to worry about its safety.
The Indian markets have a large variety of such trinkets. If you are in Delhi, check out Dilli Haat. You will absolutely love it. Apart from great shopping , it sells mouthwatering Indian food at very reasonable rates. The ambience is amazing and you can experience mini India here.
These bags and pouches are from Gujarat, lovingly made by women who support their families with the income they generate. Pick up Indian handmade products to support artisans.
Important tip: As the vendors are private you have to use your bargaining skills. It’s absolutely worth it. Neat and clean, beautiful area and not crowded. I am certain you will get all your shopping needs met here.
I have basically spoken about Delhi markets. India is a large country and you will be able to get beautiful local products all over the country. Just read up about the area and you will easily access the shops.