It's hard to resist shopping in India (particularly if you're female)! There are so many beautiful souvenirs, and so much variety. Prices are relatively inexpensive too. The best places to shop really depends on what you want to buy. Each region in India tens to specialize in a particular craft that's been handed down over generations. It's a good idea to shop in the states where the items are made and the cost is less, although you'll find emporiums stocking products from other states all over India. These emporiums are targeted at tourists, so prices are generally fixed and higher than you'd otherwise pay.
Take a look at this guide to shopping by region in India to get an idea of what's available and where.
The best deals are available from India's markets, especially if you hone your haggling skills. You'll usually find local markets in the traditional older parts of major cities. When it comes to markets, Delhi is a shopper's paradise. Name it, and you can get it! This includes everything from cheap trinkets to precious antiques. If you don't mind crowds, the lanes of Chandi Chowk in Delhi's Old City are filled with all kinds of treasures. Check out these other top Delhi markets for fabulous shopping too.
Mumbai also has some renowned markets where you can pick up a bargain, although it really doesn't compare to Delhi! The quirky 150 year old Chor Bazaar is a favorite! It's one of the best markets in Mumbai.
Jaipur is possibly the best city for shopping in Rajasthan, thanks to Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who invited merchants and craftsmen to settle there after founding the city. The Old City is divided into various markets, with Bapu Bazaar (along the road between New Gate and Sanganeri Gate) being the main one. Both Indians and foreigners flock there to buy inexpensive clothes and accessories. Johari Bazaar is famous for jewelry (particularly Gopalji ka Rasta and Haldion ka Rasta lanes). In Tripolia Bazaar, Maniharon ka Rasta is the home of lacquer bangles. Virasat Experiences offers shopping tours to local markets.
In Chennai, T. Nagar's Pondy Bazaar has an endless array of gold and textiles (and there are plentiful tailors nearby who'll create whatever you want out of the cloth you purchase). It's the biggest shopping neighborhood by revenue in India.
If you're in Goa, the huge Wednesday flea market at Anjuna beach is an experience. There's also a really popular Saturday Night Market in Apora in North Goa. The lanes leading to Goa's beaches are lined with market stalls too.
Handicrafts and Handicraft Villages
One of the great things about shopping for handicrafts in India is that often possible to meet the artisans and watch them at work. There are handicraft villages all over India, where artisans reside and are engaged in their professions.
The Kutch region of Gujarat is renowned for its handicrafts, produced by the very talented artisans in its villages. Many of the famous arts, such as bandhani tie die and ajrakh block printing, originate from Pakistan. In addition, arts such as embroidery, weaving, pottery, lacquer work, leather work, mud and mirror work, and rogan art (a type of painting on fabric) are prevalent in the region. Read more about visiting Kutch and the handicraft villages.
In Odisha, two handicraft villages (Raghurajpur and Pipli) are gaining attention. Padmanabhpur village in Odisha's Ganjam district, home to many cotton weavers, has also been developed by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. (INTACH) as a handicraft hub. Odisha is known for its silver filigree and unique silver toe rings as well. You'll find specialty silver shops filled with them and other silver items around the railway station in Bhubaneshwar (which is also worth visiting for its temples) -- and they're surprisingly inexpensive!
Just south of Chennai, Cholamandal Artists’ Village is India's largest artists' commune, with an extraordinary collection of paintings and sculptures.
Sargaalaya is a 20-acre arts and crafts village in Iringal, in the Kozhikode district of Kerala. It was set up by Kerala Tourism in 2011 to help support artisans.
Jaipur is famous for its block printing and blue pottery. Here's where to buy them there.
In late December every year, Shilpgram rural arts and crafts complex near Udaipur comes alive with the 10-day Shilpgram Arts & Crafts Fair. Some handicraft stalls are permanent fixtures throughout the year.
The Surajkund International Crafts Mela, held in Faridabad district near Delhi during the first two weeks of February each year, showcases the finest Indian textiles and handicrafts. Around 1,000 artisans display and demonstrate their crafts. You'll want to leave plenty of room in your luggage for the things you buy there!
Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) that provide employment for underprivileged people in India are another excellent source of handicrafts, and your money will be going to a good cause!
Have a look at these 12 authentic places to buy handicrafts in India for more details.
If you're really into handicrafts, take one of these immersive themed handicraft tours in India. The tours range from short half day tours to extensive tours of a week or longer.
India is one of the world's largest tea producers. It really took off during the time of British rule, when large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production. Many tea plantations in India enourage tea tourism.
If you can't make it to one of the tea growing regions, these tea shops and tea bars in India are among the best places to sample (and buy) tea. In addition, if you venture as far as Gangtok in Sikkim, don't miss the Golden Tips tea showroom (Punam Building, First Floor, MG Marg), which is sought after for its boutique teas including rare temi tea that's grown in Sikkim's only tea garden.
Every state across India has its own special weaves and fabrics for its saris. One of the most popular and traditional types of saris is the silk Kanjeevaram (Kanchipuram) from South India. Another popular type of sari is the Banarasi sari, which is hand woven in Banaras (now Varanasi). Other well known types of saris include the bright tie-dyed Bandhani/Bandhej saris from Rajasthan and Gujarat, cotton Gadhwal saris with silk borders and pallu from Andhra Pradesh, Maheshwari saris from Madhya Pradesh, the gorgeous fine silk and gold woven Paithani saris with peacock design from Maharashtra, and ikat "bandha" from Odisha.
Find out more in this essential guide to buying a sari in India.
Shopping Malls and Designer Stores
Mall mania has hit Mumbai in recent years, with new malls popping up all over the city. Most malls are more than just shopping destinations. They've got huge food, gaming, and entertainment zones as well, offering fun for the whole family. For designer brands, go to the new high-end Palladium Mall at High Street Phoenix. See these biggest and best Mumbai malls.