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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.]
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