India is known as a great tourist destination. What is equally true is that India is also an exciting shopping destination. After finishing their refreshing tour of this colourful land, tourists must not forget to take home some of India’s best buys. It is also a country where there are markets for all class groups. For the rich and fashionable, there are gorgeous air conditioned malls. The general public can visit the attractive road side shops or open markets where hard bargaining is a feature. But the best thing about shopping in India is that every state has something exclusive and unique to offer.
Here, we highlight the best buys of some India states.
Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmiri handicrafts and handloom have gained popularity all over India and even abroad for their exquisite craftsmanship. The carpets of Kashmir, made both in wool and silk with Persian designs are among the most beautiful products of the state. The pure woolen products of Kashmir, mainly the Kashmiri shawl would also be a good investment. Other woolen items include sweaters, jackets and caps. The famous Pashmina shawl of Kashmir is rarely available nowadays. There are also items like jewellery boxes, mirror frames, a range of intricately carved walnut wood furniture and accessories and stone jewellery boxes that also figure prominently in the list of best buys.
Kashmir also has a flourishing agro products industry. The apples cultivated in Kashmir are among the best apples in India. The main places of tourist attraction like Srinagar, Jammu, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Leh shall be interesting places to shop in the state. The best varieties shall be available in Srinagar and Jammu.
Himachal Pradesh: The tiny Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh located below Jammu & Kashmir is another great shopping destination. Woolen items belonging to the hill stations of Himachal are among the best buys of the state. The markets also display well designed Tibetan carpets. Wooden articles, toys and metal works of the place are also very attractive. Like Kashmir, agro products of Shimla like jams and squashes are also worth buying for their taste and freshness.
The main shopping destinations are Shimla, Kullu and Manali. Main shopping areas in Shimla are The Mall, Lower Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar.
Rajasthan: Rajasthan is one Indian state that can safely be termed as a shoppers paradise. The gifted artisans of the state are renowned for their exquisite range of products. What keeps the shopping list of Rajasthan continuously increasing is the fact that the various cities offer something of their own. If Jaipur offers Jaipuri quilts, tie-dye textiles, block printed textiles and semi precious stone jewellery, the list in Jaisalmer consists of embroidery works, mirror work, rugs, blankets and beautiful antique pieces. Silver jewellery and carpets made from camel hair are also popular. Jodhpur offers to the tourist silver jewellery, leather goods, carpets and durries, textiles and furnitures. Infact, Jodhpur is also an important centre for imports and exports. The central shopping place of Jodhpur is known as Ghasmandi Bazaar. Rajasthan’s shopping list is so vast that tourists may feel exhausted after having a round of the markets!
Uttar Pradesh: The huge Indian state of Uttar Pradesh does not let down tourists either. Delicate chikan works of Lucknow, wood carvings of Saharanpur, the hand-knitted woolen carpets of Bhadoi and Mirzapur, terracotta of Gorakhpur, brassware of Moradabad, glassware of Firozabad and hand printing works of Farrukhabad are among the best buys of the state.
Bihar: Among the best buys of Bihar are decorative pieces made out of stone and bead-jewellery. Local handicraft and handloom products of the state also pull tourists. It would be a let down if tourists come to Bihar and fail to taste Tilcoot-a kind of sweet famous all over the state.
Orissa: Orissa is also known as a great shopping destination. The silverworks of Cuttack, glorious hand woven fabrics of Sambalpur, the intricate paintings of Raghurajpur and coloured wall hangings of Pipli form the core of Orissa’s shopping list. Also in demand are the ‘Ikat’ fabrics and sea shell works of the coastal areas.
Assam: In Assam and the other states of North East, raw materials in the form of cane and bamboo are extensively used in making most products. The traditional handloom and handicrafts of Assam are becoming increasingly popular in the national markets. Sarees made of pat and muga are exclusive only to this state. The brass metal and bell metal works of some of the lower Assam villages are creditable. Sualkuchi and Sarthebari are two such places. Guwahati, the capital city is the best place to shop. Maligaon.
Nagaland: Just like Assam, the crafts and looms of Nagaland also have a distinct identity of their own. The exquisite hand woven shawls of various tribes popularly called the Naga shawls, Naga mekhelas (Sarongs) and Naga hand bags have also found markets abroad. Other attractive items made in the state include beads, baskets and hats made of cane and bamboo. Most tourists love to pick up a pair of Naga decorative spear to adorn the walls of their homes. To suit the taste of foreign tourists, young fashion designers of Nagaland are bringing traditional outfits in new looks.
West Bengal: West Bengal also stores many shopping attractions for tourists. Chinese shoes, jewellery and handmade ceramics are among the best buys of the state. The state is also famous for textiles including khadi kurtas and special Bengali sarees. It may be mentioned that West Bengal is most famous for making delicious sweets. Though perishable goods are never high on the agenda of shoppers, the delicious Bengal sweets force tourists to make amends.
Goa: A haven for beach holidaying, the sea shell products of the state obviously come on top of shopper’s list. The artisans of Goa are experts in making showpieces out of natural stuff like coconut husk or palm leaves. The various wooden articles of Goa are also very exquisitely made. It would not be wrong to say that crafts of the state have their own distinct stamp of identity.
Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is a state synonymous with pearls. Attractive pearls studded in gold and silver jewellery are a speciality here. Kalmakarithe hand painted fabric of the state is another item worth picking up. Another unique painting variety is Nirmal painting, done using dyes to create memorable scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Hyderabad, the capital city is called a shoppers paradise. Hyderabadi specialities include pearls, glass and jewellery. Bidriware is another item exclusive to Hyderabad. Women can invest in the beautiful Kat saris in striking colors.
Kerala: The southern state of Kerala also offers a lot to shoppers. The handicraft items of the state are very exquisitely made. But Kerala is best known for her coir products which are regarded as world class. Various items like carpets, mattresses and wall hangings are made of coir. The artisans of Kerala also put great effort in making hand woven clothes. Sea shell works of the coastal areas and metal works of the state’s northern parts are also worthy of investment.
Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu offers an attractive combination of traditional and trendy merchandise such as carvings on brass, stone, wood and ivory, leather bikinis, bags and shoes. Some of the cities of Tamil Nadu have their own distinct products. To cite examples, Tirunellveli is popular for pattamara mats, Tanjavur for metal works, Kumbakonam for bronze and brass castings while Kanchipuram for items of silk.
Shoppers should keep in mind certain things while shopping in India. Unlike many foreign countries, all the markets in India do not display fixed price products. In the shopping malls, branded showrooms, departmental stores and government emporiums, products displayed are normally fixed priced. But in other shops and roadside markets, bargaining is a feature of shopping. Hard bargaining may take place before settling at the final price. Some shopkeepers also quote exorbitant prices to foreign tourists. It may also be mentioned that credit or debit cards are not acceptable in all market places. It is the traditional way of buying against currency notes that still prevails. Some shopkeepers may also show reluctance in issuing receipts. All these facts should be kept in mind to avoid problems and turn the shopping experience into a memorable one.