The Indian craftsman has been
perfecting his art for centuries, passing own traditions and techniques
from generation to generation. Each region has its own specialities,
each town its own local craftsmen, its own particular skills. The
results is a consummate blend of ancient skills and modern aesthetics.
Silks, spices, jewellery and many other Indian products have long
been famous and widely desired, and merchants would travel thousands
of miles, willingly enduring the hardships and privations of the
long journey in other to make their purchases. Nowadays, the marketplaces
of the subcontinent are only 9 hours away, and for fabrics, silverware,
carpets, leatherwork, antiques the list is endless India is a shopping
paradise. Goods are exotic, attractive, beautiful hand-crafted and
excellent value for money. Half the fun when buying goods in the
bazaars is the bargaining, and you can always check for reasonable
prices at state-run emporiums. Below are some of the best buys,
either for the souvenir hunter or the connoisseur.
of India’s main industries, silks, cottons, and wools rank
amongst the best in the world. Of the silks the brocades from Varanasi
are among the most famous variety; other major centres include Patna,
Murshidabad,Surat and Kanchipuram. Rajasthan cotton with its famous
"tie and die" design is usually brillantly colourful,
while Madras cotton is known for its attractive "bleeding"
effect after a few washes. Throughout the country may be found the
"himroo" cloth, a mixture of silk and cotton, often decorated
with patterns. Kashmir sells beautiful woollens particularly shawls.
has one of the world’s largest carpet industries, and many
examples of her ancient and beautiful craft can be seen in museums
throughout the world. Kashmir has a long history of carpet making,
influenced by the Persians. Pure wool and woven and silk carpets
are exquisitely made, and can be bought for a fraction of the cost
that one would pay in the west. Each region will have its own specialty;
such as the distinctive, bright coloured Tibetan rugs, available
mainly in Darjeeling.
are very cheap to buy, and can be tailor made in some shops, usually
very quickly. Choose from an unmatchable range; silks, cottons,
himroos, brocades, chiffons, chignons, touched with streaks of silver
and gold thread, set with sequins or semi-precious gems ...
of Rajasthan (Kundan), is traditionally heavy and stunningly elaborate.
Indian silverwork is world-famous. Gems can be bought and mounted.
Apart from diamonds, other stones include lapis lazuli, Indian star
rubies, star sapphires, moonstones and aquamarine. Hyderabad is
one of the world’s leading centres for pearls.
HANDICRAFTS AND LEATHERWORK: Once
again, each area will have its own specialty; the vast range includes
fine bronzes, brasswork (often inlaid with silver), canework and
pottery. Papier Mache is a characteristic Kashmir product, some
decorated with gold leaf. Marble and alabaster inlay work, such
as chess sets and ornamental plates, are a specialty of Agra. Good
leatherwork buys includes open India sandals and slippers.
carvings from Karnataka, rosewood from Kerala and Madras, Indian
walnut from Kashmir. These are often exquisite and make excellent
OTHER BUYS: Foods
such as pickles, spices and Indian tea, perfumes, soap, handmade
paper, Orissan playing cards, musical instruments- anything that
takes your fancy.
NOTE: It is forbidden to export antiques and art objects over 100
years old, animal skins or objects made from skins.