• MW elephant blessing
  • MW at Tiger Fort, Jaipur
  • MW at Taj Mahal with friends
  • Mariellen Ward, Kumbh Mela, Haridwar, aarti, India

   

   

Shopping in India: Top 10 things to buy

Photograph of Indian jewelery and bangles

Photo courtesy Amanjeet K Chauhan of GalleryAKC.com

There’s no bling like Indian bling

INDIA IS A shopper’s paradise. You just can’t beat the combination India offers: an incredible variety of gorgeous items, often hand-made, at temptingly low prices. Here’s my list of the top 10 things to buy in India, with links to some beautiful Indian-made items hand-picked from the Novica fair-trade site. Novica features products made from artisans in several countries around the world, including India. To learn more about Novica, an online store endorsed by National Geographic, click here.

Shop Handmade Treasures from India at NOVICA

Shopping in India: Top 10 things to buy

1. Textiles. India is famous for cotton and silk clothing, bed covers, table cloths and wall hangings. Many of these come adorned with hand beading and/or hand embroidery and will make you feel like a princess. The cotton wall hanging from Gujurat pictured below is called Emerald Forest and is designed by Meena for Novica. It features dazzling images in jade, aqua and amethyst and intricate motifs in glittering zarie mbroidery, sequins and beadwork.

Cotton wall hanging, 'Emerald Forest' (India)

2. Shoes. From inexpensive leather juttis (traditional embroidered slippers) to crystal-beaded, high-heeled evening sandals, shoes in India are fun and frivolous … and very tempting.

3. Jewelry. Indian women love jewelry, and the bigger and more ornate the better. There is an astounding variety of real and costume jewelry — to go with your princess look. The jewelry sold through Novica is all designed and made in India. The bracelet below, Jaipuri Sash by Mahavir, features festive flowers with bright gemstone petals that include amethyst, garnet, citrine, peridot, and iolite. The gems are set in a burnished, sterling silver cuff bracelet.

Amethyst and garnet cuff bracelet, 'Jaipuri Sash' (India)

4. Tea. The champagne of tea, Darjeeling, comes from the hills of North-east India; and Assam and Nilgiri teas are excellent too.

5. Pashmina and other shawls. Real pashmina is a type of cashmere wool that comes from pashmina goats in the Himalayas. It is very costly. So, if someone offers you a pashmina for a small sum, such as $10, it’s probably a blend (at best). However, there are many beautiful shawls made in India from wool, silk, cotton and blends of these materials. The Novica site features dozens, like this stunning wool shawl designed by Sandeep Malhotra in shades of orange, pink, purple, mustard and burgundy.

Wool shawl, 'Holi Parade' (India)

6. Scented products. India is, of course, the land of incense. And attar, a type of natural perfume extracted from flowers, herbs, spices, or barks, has been in use in India since ancient times.

7. Arts and crafts. Throughout India, traditional artisans make lovely rugs, furniture, pottery, clothing, textiles, boxes, home decor items — usually with unique regional variations which you will discover as you travel around the country. Novica features many arts and crafts, too, like this hand-painted jewelry box depicting an exquisite floral star and designed by Niyaz. The colours derive from natural flowers — the sunflower, rose, lily, lotus, tulip and jasmine.

Wood jewelry box, 'Star of India' (India)

8. Ayurvedic products, such as skin care and herbal remedies. Several commercial brands, such as Biotique, Himalaya and Shahnaz Herbal, are readily available.

9. Books. India publishes a LOT of books in English, at very affordable prices, and browsing the classic bookshops of Connaught Place in Delhi, or the bookstalls of Mumbai and Kolkata, is a favourite “time pass.” But if you can’t get to India, and want to read about India, check out my list of 10 books about India that are better than Shantaram for recommendations and links to Amazon if you want to buy any of them. The book you should start with is the classic Freedom at Midnight (below), all about the struggle for independence, Gandhi, partition and the birth of a nation.

10. Music and movies. Classical Indian and devotional music CDs, and Bollywood DVDs, are a great buy and make for a long-lasting souvenir. Bollywood is of course the world’s biggest movie-maker and many of the films they make in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) are of top-notch quality and appealing to viewers around the globe. I highly recommend the mega-hit Jodhaa Akbar, for example (below, which you can buy on Amazon). For more info, read Bollywood Primer: Top 4 things you need to know.

Shop Handmade Treasures from India at NOVICA

[Disclaimer for buying from Novica: Please note, taxes and duties are not included in the cost of freight if your order is being shipped outside of the U.S. Taxes and duties will need to be paid to the shipping company at the time of delivery. Please check with your local customs bureau for more information regarding taxes, duties and importation fees. This page contains affiliate links.]

photograph of bazaar / market in Delhi, India

Happy me, shopping in the Karol Bagh Market, Delhi

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31 Responses to Shopping in India: Top 10 things to buy

  1. Tracy August 21, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Nice post! India is so many things, among those a shopper’s paradise! We spent two months there and at the time we were overwhelmed. Now, many months later we can’t wait to go back!

  2. Amanjeet August 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    I heart Karol Bagh Market, and Janpath Market, and Rajouri Gardens Market…

  3. Andi August 22, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    I have never spent as much money than as I did while in India. How could I not buy the jewelry????

  4. lilasvb August 22, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    nice to visit your blog

  5. Mariellen August 22, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Thanks for comments — I know, I LOVE shopping in India, especially Delhi. I know Khan Market like the back of my hand. Also like Janpath, Karol Bagh, GK1 N-Block, Aurobindo and a bunch of others, but I don’t know Rajouri Gardens Market. How exciting, a new market to discover!

    • Akash March 21, 2013 at 4:20 am #

      You haven’t seen Delhi, if you have been to Khan Mkt, Janpath, Karol Bagh GK-1, only. I completely understand about it. There are various places where you can go and also you will love those places and you will be comfortable there also. Let me know, if you plan to come to come to Delhi again.

      Regards.

      • Hana May 2, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        Hello Akash
        I’m in New Delhi, can you suggest me some shopping places?
        Thanks

        • LAXMI July 30, 2013 at 4:35 am #

          You can visit Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar,

        • Uzair August 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

          Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh Market, and Cannaught Place

  6. India Travel Plan September 6, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    superb site cheers for posting.

  7. Amal January 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Hello Mariellen ,

    next time you can come to kerala , God own country ,land with full of surprise ….

  8. Jaya February 5, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Did u learn Hindi before you went for your visit to India?
    if u did, was it helpful??
    and how much did or how many days of Hindi did you learn??
    thank you

  9. Raj February 23, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    To all.

    There is no need to prepare language or Hindi or regional language..since u all get people so courteous to u forget your language..

    since all indian who thinks ” Athiti devo bhava” it is sanskrit

    In english: we treate guests like gods”

    Thanks all..

  10. Raj February 23, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    Will Durant (American philosopher)

    Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things.

    ====================================
    it true said by American Philospher
    ====================================

  11. Mariellen February 26, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Hello Jaya and Raj,

    I don’t know very much Hindi, I have picked some up and also studied it (but mostly grammar, reading and writing — not conversational). I can understand simple Hindi and respond, but not hold lengthy conversations. I didn’t learn HIndi before I went to India the first time at all.

    I agree that people in India do tend to be very courteous and helpful, so most of the time, I didn’t feel the need to know Hindi … but still, I would like to become fluent to get to know people better.

    Love that quote from Will Durant, thanks so much for sharing it Raj!

  12. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) February 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Yeah, I have a feeling that when I finally make it to India, I need to be prepared to drop quite a bit of dough …

  13. Mariellen February 26, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi Ellen, The first time I went, I bought so much stuff I thought I was going to be stopped at customs and accused of opening a store! Ha! But the good news is, you can get a lot of nice things relatively inexpensively. Of course, you do get what you pay for and India has some very high-end merchandise. Real pashmina shawls are VERY expensive by any standards, and so are many of the designer clothes, hand-knotted rugs, and top of the line silk saris with real gold thread borders. Jewelry is the same – you can get good costume jewelry, or you could literally spend millions on unbelievably ornate pieces made from gold and precious gems. You have to see the real jewelry to believe it.

  14. Raj February 29, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    That’s true Mariellen….but one thing is sure value for money..no singal paisa ( peeny ) waste,

    ladies purchases a lot jewellery and ornament of gems in india..

  15. Arti May 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I just HAD to add some things! You guys are missing a ton of the major points!
    All that random souvenir stuff listed above can get you ripped off too! By all means buy a couple of bangles and incense sticks (ooh, and india has the most gorgeous incense holders too) to show your friends back home but remember that the most important thing to buy in India is FOOD!!!! Here are some examples:

    – curry Smoodles (it sounds stupid to buy readymade noodles from another country but they are literally to DIE for)

    – Kaju Barfi (pronounced “car-jew b-ugh-r-fee”. It’s my personal favourite Indian sweet and I just love how it has silver foil – edible, don’t worry – on the top!!)

    – Pani Puri (it’s like the best stuff ever!! You can’t really “buy” this per say because it’s more like something you might order at a restaurant – you can get it as street food but my parents have never let me incase I get DehliBelly. If you happen to be in Bombay/Mumbai there is this amazing place in Bandra which sells great, and safe to eat,pani puri)

    – Paneer Curry or pizza (Paneer in India tastes different – don’t ask me why, it just does! Actually it’s probably because it’s made fresh so you can taste all the great flavours. Actually, when I go to India my grandma tends to be the one who makes me paneer curry so I don’t know where you’d get it… But look out for it!)

    – Meat Biryani (Make sure you buy the stuff that’s made by Muslims – god! that sounded racist, but I swear it’s not! There’s just something special about the way those guys make biryani! You can get it as a take-away and by jove! It’s gooooood)

    – Pork Sorpotel(Okay, so nobody can make Pork Sorpotel like my Grandpa, and sorry but he’s kind of out of comission for a while and won’t be making any more any time soon… But it’s still a dish worth trying)

    – Seafood! (If you’re in Kerala, Madras or anywhere near Tamalnadu then YOU-MUST-EAT-CRAB-CURRY. It’s my favourite thing to eat in the whole wide world! That being said, once again this a particular recipe made by one of my aunt’s maids, but nevertheless! Seafood in India is a must-do. But make sure it’s clean, i.e. go to a posh place, because you WILL get dysentery if you eat bad seafood)

    Things to buy that aren’t edible!
    – Books (books are way cheaper in india, They’re are, on average, £4 whereas they would be a £10 in England)

    – Go to a cinema! (I swear to god, Indian cinemas are EPIC! They’re really modern! Go see something you wanted to see back home, e.g. harry potter, and buy a whole load of yummy junk food at the cinema food court!)

    – Go to a mall (especially if you’re in Madras/Chennai! OMG, the malls in Madras are TO-DIE-FOR! I know it’s not exactly ‘the indian experience’ but the food court is one to rival Singapore – and that’s saying something.)

    – Go to the Mariott in Bombay (it’s absolutely gorgeous! You don’t have to stay there, it’s pretty expensive, but I really recommend eating there one evening. Especially if it’s a buffet! The food is really tasty and it’s a gorgeous place to look around!)

    – Also, if you have kids then Indian telly is great for them! The channel Animax is great if you have Sky (or tata or whatever) there because not only is it all english – or Japanese but seriously, who doesn’t speak japanese these days)… kidding! – but it also airs great programs! Whenever I come home from holiday (in India) I always get Animax withdrawal TT_TT

    P.s. If you’re worried about not speaking Hindi – don’t be. Practically EVERYONE in India speaks english, and when I say practically everyone I really mean EVERYONE!!
    p.p.s Whilst there are plenty of amazingly nice people in India there are also a whole load of people who will try to con you! Speak with an English/French/American/Italian/etc. accent and suddenly you’ll find that bangles are about 100rupees more for you than the guy standing next you (assuming he isn’t a tourist too). Just be sure to haggle (unless the thing you’re buying has a price tag – in that case just pay up or put it down!!)

    Just some hints from a girl whose parents are from India and who goes there at least once every other year for a holiday! (and since I’d started complaining in my teenage years that I wanted to see other parts of the world too we’ve been to practically every part of India so as to satiate my wanderlust and visit relatives at the same time)

  16. Mariellen May 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Thanks Arti, I think I can say that is the longest comment ever left on my blog — in fact, it really is a blog unto itself.

    My list was about shopping for souvenir-type items, while many of your tips are about things to experience. I agree that food in India is fantastic — but of course you do have to be careful about what and where you eat. And going to see a Hindi / Bollywood movie in India is a lot of fun. I always make sure I see the latest hits especially if they star Aamir Khan or Shahrukh Khan.

  17. mital September 1, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    come to the north eastern parts of india-assam,arunachal pradesh etc..you will love the handicrafts n the local made textiles,the scenic beauty is magnificient..

  18. Balaji Kartha November 13, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    I loved Arti’s take on her experiences in India – and I agree with her totally !
    I live in Madras / Chennai and I am a foody and a movie buff too ! The malls and multiplexes here are great fun. As for shopping – I leave that to my wife – and she seems to agree, since she is a airline cabin crew (travelling all over the world) and she loves her shopping here !

  19. Leoline February 1, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    Hi Mariellen

    Just need advise a friend of mine is Visiting India for the first time…He asked what he should bring me along,but i’ve got no idea what India has to offer..need advise please,im a young lady of 28yrs

  20. irctc February 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    how can u decide top 10 things to buy in a country in a single visit

  21. Mariellen Ward March 1, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Hi Leoline, I think a shawl is one of the easiest things to buy, and there is such a huge variety of styles and colours (and prices). And they are fun to wear — they really come in handy.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Finally, a perfect small hotel in DelhiMy Profile

  22. Mariellen Ward March 1, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Hello IRCTC,

    I have spent about 17 months in India, on six separate trips so far, so I have done a lot of shopping! I wanted to narrow it to 10, so these are my top picks. There are lots more wonderful things to buy in India of course …
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Finally, a perfect small hotel in DelhiMy Profile

  23. Chetan March 21, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Pretty section of shopping content . I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Chetan recently posted..10 Stupid Job labels in Digital MarketingMy Profile

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