handwoven scarves and pashminas!
Or maybe you immediately start worrying about supporting slave labor.
Then again you might have always coveted a flute, sitar or tapestry and intricate jewelry.
Dear Reader, when it comes to shopping in India we have your back.
But first – let’s haggle
Beautiful pieces of intricate art, Madhubani paintings are pictorial representations of various Hindu themes – from Lord Krishna dance scenes to village landscapes – and make for unique and manageable souvenirs.
Made with intensive labor and brilliant handwork, a silk sari is both a unique piece of Indian culture and a luxurious souvenir to take back.
There is a veritable cornucopia of blends in India and many are brewed with herbs and spices like cardamom and cloves.
A jar of āchār (pickles) is an Indian souvenir that leaves pleasant memories for your palate. Rich in flavors, pickle is eaten in small quantities as a side with Indian flatbread and curries.
Typically tassel décor, the puppets were used in the past as folk entertainment mediums, the string puppets are a vibrant aspect of Indian culture and an inspired purchase.
Fine cashmere wool is a luxurious Indian souvenir with a rich past and present. Is the pashmina real – the only true test is to take a thread and light it on fire. Fake pashminas will melt or burn like a candle. If it turns to ash and smells like burning hair you have the real deal.
Indian spice box
An Indian spice box captures the pure essence of India and is one of the best souvenirs to bring back home
Dibbis (small boxes) with inlaid or patterned lids
The inlay work, enamel paintwork, and pattern work lid boxes are treasured souvenirs. Found in various sizes for storage and décor purposes, these lid boxes show skilled craftsmanship and details.
Traditional silver jewelry
Buy silver jewelry in an extensive range of intricate patterns, oxidized finishes, and beautiful designs. With styles varying from trendy to conservative.
Idols and Mementos
Take home a worshipping idol or another unique memento.
Traditional oil lamps
Found in different designs, shapes, and sizes, traditional oil lamps are unique gifting and keepsake options from India.
Shoes! Sandals or chappals
An old-school picture of yourself taken by one of the photographers in front of the Gateway of India.
Saris or clothing
Where better than in the fashion capital of India to buy your Sari? Tailors will happily make you bespoke clothing.
Retro Bollywood posters
If you can think of a better souvenir from India than a vintage Bollywood poster we need to have a chat.
Beautiful, fragrant sandalwood carvings.
Traditional techniques have been used to make arts and crafts in Karnataka for centuries. Mysore silks with gold strands running through and paintings with bright vegetable colors, dyes and gold leaves are created by the extremely talented craftsman.
Rosewood work and metal work is also fabulous in this region.
Buy Sandalwood incense.
Handcrafts and handloom. Pattachitra are paintings made on palm leaves. In Pipli there are beautiful appliqués
Silver Ware and Filigree Work are also a specialty of Odisha. Intricate designs made of fine silver thread are prepared or embellished on jewelry to make exquisite items.
Buy Sambalpuri and Bomkai sarees
Buy traditional handicraft items here. From pottery to metalworks and silver and gemstone jewelry to gemstones. Wooden furniture and trinkets, traditional fabrics, wholesale clothing, leather shoes, jackets, purses, notebooks, Hindu statues, and mirror work
Quilted Rajasthani wall hangings, blankets, pillow covers, and cushions.
The Pink City of Jaipur is where you indulge in gems from rubies to emeralds. Lac bangles are another important handicraft offering of Jaipur.
This is also where you find Minakari work which is the art of encrusting gemstones like rubies, emeralds and lapis lazuli in gold.
The carpets of Jaipur are also recognized both within India and in foreign countries.
The Bikaneri bhujiya is loved by people all over India.
Shop for camel skin and sheep’s wool carpets and other items here.
The leather work of Ajmer is famous for its craftsmanship. The items are a collaboration between the sexes. Men would cut, tan and stitch the leather while women embellish it with embroidery.
In the desert, you will find exquisite mirror work articles, embroidered products, wooden artifacts, silver jewelry, and other interesting items
Don’t leave Jodhpur without a pair of their famous juttis. The city is also good quality leather shoes, water bags, pouches and musical instruments in Jodhpur.
Buy your Kota Doria sari with square khats patterns woven into the body.
Tie-dye saris, toys made locally, colorful turbans and painted fabrics.
Purchase a Chikankari in Lucknow. In Moradabad, you will have your pick of exquisite metalworks, naqkashi tin engraving and khudai art (a steel pen engraving a lac coated tin surface). The Nataraj and Ganesha statues as well a cornucopia of stools, trays and laughing buddhas.
A world of colored glass… from a kaleidoscope of bangles to the Tikklu and the glass beads of Varanasi. You can also find glass toys filled with colored Rachora in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
The home of earthenware. Indian pottery in eye-catching colors with water containers or surahis in different shapes and designs from Meerut and Hapur.
Indian pottery making has always been noted for its finesse and exterior designing. If you are looking for some good earthenware to decorate your house, you will love the pottery items at Khurja. Stunning designs in eye-catching colors are the specialty of Khurja. Other places in Uttar Pradesh such as Meerut and Hapur are famous for water containers called surahis which are available in different shapes and designs.
Cotton, organza, organdie, and doruya is used as a base on which floral patterns are stitched. The Turko-Afghan sultans of the 12th Century also brought the craft of Zardosi to Uttar Pradesh.
You will also have luck if you have a fondness for marble, soft stone craft, and carpets.
Colorful masks to chandeliers and mirrors, pottery and terracotta, brass metalware, crochet and embroidery, bamboo craft, fiber craft, coconut mask carving, and seashell craft items
Do be aware that much of what is for sale in Goa comes from elsewhere in India or is fake.
Aurangabad is known for its beautiful Himroo weaving, which produces exquisite sarees, shawls, dress materials, and bed linen.
Kolkata is famous for terracotta dishes, figurines and wall art. The textile industry includes the Baluchuri sari, silk, and tussar sari. Dhokra and Solapith art (created with plant leaves) are also very famous.
West Bengal masks are a specialty here. Ragdolls can be found throughout Kolkata.
The home of Buddhism is a place of festivals and religious events.
Madhubani paintings and sarees
The Khatwa appliqué is made by cutting and stitching different types of fabric onto each other. Sujini quilts are traditionally made using old clothes for stuffing with religious or village scenes depicted on the exterior.
Pashmina and yak wool, Desar shawl, cashmere, and Kullu caps. And incredible gems. Do watch out for fakes!
As there are Tibetan refugees and monks in the region, you can also find traditional Tibetan rugs, meditation bowls and beads, prayer wheels, flags and silver jewelry in Himachal Pradesh.
Jammu and Kashmir
Home to beautiful pashminas, woodwork and papier mache, you may also fin vintage maps, willow baskets and the Kashmiri hand-woven carpet or Namda.
This is also where you can buy authentic Kashmiri Chilli and zaffran.
Woodwork, Phulkari work (jooties, dhurries, pindis and parandis), mud work, pottery, folk toys, needle, and metalwork.
You may also buy mirror frames and wooden furniture.
Famous for their silk Kanjeevaram sarees. Tanjore paintings are also held in high regard. A thin sheet of gold is used to complete the painting. Musical instruments can also be found here.
The Muga, Eri and Paat sarees in myriad colors and designs are some of the most sought-after sarees of Assam.
Assam tea is also famous all over the world and bamboo and handmade toys are good purchases in Assam.
Fabrics, bamboo items, and the famous striped bags of the region.
Images via Qazi Ikram Ul Haq