Shopping in India

Part of the fun of any trip is shopping for bargain finds, souvenirs, and things that can only be found in that particular country. And if you happen to be in India, then you absolutely have to do a bit of shopping, as there are so many special things that you can get here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

shop in india
Go shopping in India

India is a shopper’s paradise. The incredible variety of gorgeous items at temptingly low prices make for amazing gifts to loved ones back home and a nice treat for yourself. Most of the beautiful items you’ll find are handmade, and were executed with tradition in mind along with excellent craftsmanship. In India, you’ll find everything from clothes to ceramics, and metal work to musical instruments. The only problem is how to get all of your purchases back home! Here are the places that you should check out to discover what to buy and where to shop ‘til you drop.

1. Delhi

Shopping is fun and vibrant in Delhi, and the exotic atmosphere here makes it an even bigger thrill. Forego the mall and visit the markets, where you’ll find a treasure trove of goods.

The Janpath and Tibetan Market, for instance, is a very popular market. It has recently gone through a makeover, and now it’s better than ever. Here, you can buy handicrafts, hippy clothing, shoes, paintings, brassware, Indian artifacts, leather goods and cheap jewelry. You’ll need all your bargaining skills to get a decent price though, so dress modestly and simply, don’t flash the cash, and walk away if you don’t agree on the price. Most likely, you’ll find the same item in the next stall.

shopping in delhi
Dilli Haat Market in Delhi

The huge Dilli Haat Market has been deliberately made to feel like a traditional weekly village market, called a haat. Small thatched roof cottages with a village atmosphere give it great ambiance. Not only can you buy traditional Indian handicrafts here, but you can also enjoy cultural and music performances while you’re taking a break from shopping. There are some food stands here too, so you can watch a show while chowing down on traditional Indian fare at the same time. To get inside, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 15 rupees.

Khan Market is a small, U-shaped, well established market that is one of Delhi’s classiest markets. If you’re looking for a bargain here, you won’t find it. It’s got a loyal following that go there to shop at its branded outlets. One of the best things about this market is its book shops. You can also buy Ayurvedic food and cosmetics here, as well as branded and tailored clothes. If your arms get tired from lugging around all those shopping bags, there are great lounges to relax in, and balconies where you can sit down and enjoy the views of the busy streets. Most of the shops do take credit cards, but have some cash with you for food purchases.

2. Mumbai

These days, Mumbai is more famous for its designer shops and malls than its markets. However, if you’re looking to get fabulous outfits for less, Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, or some interesting souvenirs to take home, then you won’t be disappointed.

shopping in mumbai
Chor Bazaar in Mumbai

The Chor Bazaar is nestled in the heart of Moslem Mumbai. You can find it by navigating your way through crowded streets and crumbling buildings. This market has been around for more than 150 years, and walking around gives you a feel of what the Mumbai of olden days must have been like. Well, if you try to ignore the loud Indian rap music that blares from various speakers from the stalls, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The original name means thieves market, but this was derived from the British mispronunciation of the original name of Shor Bazaar, or “noisy market”, which it certainly still is! Eventually, stolen goods started popping up into some of the market stalls, resulting in it living it up to its new name. It’s true that you’ll never know if you’re about to buy someone else’s vintage or bronze items, so shop with caution.

Colaba Causeway, on the other hand, is a shopping experience geared especially towards tourists. Here, you’ll certainly get everything, just like the touts will say to you once you’re within this market’s vicinity. Handicrafts, jewelry, books, crystals, incense and clothes are available here, as well as random items. This is where you want to go if ever you want someone to write your name on a grain of rice. Afterwards, take a break from shopping by popping into Leopold’s Café or Cafe Mondegar.

Fashion Street, which is located south of Mumbai, is literally that—a street lined with the trendiest fashion items. There are around 150 stalls here, and Fashion Street promises the ardent shopper a lot more knick knacks than any large mall can offer. Even designer brands are available here at low prices. Export quality garments are piled haphazardly in little shops, and it’s this unpretentious vibe that invites tourists to dig in the piles and find their fashion treasures. The market attracts hoards of teenagers and college students, who come to grab the latest Western clothes and fake brand names at cheap prices. Be prepared to deal with shopkeepers who quote higher prices to people who are visibly new to the place. Use your intuition and bargaining skills to get good deals.

3. Kolkata

Shopping in Kolkata can give you a piece of India to take home, as this is where you can buy saris, handicrafts and terracotta items. If you bargain well, you’ll get a lot of great deals.

The Dakshinapan Shopping Center is an open air bazaar that’s a little out of the way, but it’s an excellent place to buy Indian handicrafts and artifacts. It’s also the place to buy traditional Indian clothing. If you love tea, make it a point to drop by the renowned Dolly’s Tea Shop. This small but charmingly decorated boutique tea shop has 20 different fruit flavors of tea to choose from, as well as refreshing, fruit infused iced teas. You can even buy attractively packaged tea to take home as gifts.

Anyone who loves books shouldn’t miss visiting Oxford Bookstore, which is without a doubt, the best place to shop for books in Kolkata. You can browse for hours, and even enjoy a cup of tea or two at the book store’s tea bar. There’s also a separate section for children, which makes this a great place to visit if you’re travelling with kids.

shopping in kolkata
New Market in Kolkata

For cheap bags and jewelry, check out New Market, also known as Hogg’s Market. This is Kolkata’s oldest and most well-known market, and from Monday to Saturday, it’s always full of crowds who want to get their hands on some cheap accessories. It has over 2,000 stalls and is a bargain hunter’s delight. If you head to the reconstructed area of the market, you’ll find traditional Indian clothing as well as colorful saris. The shopkeepers will also be more than happy to teach you how to wear one, so make sure to capture the sari tutorial on video!

Whenever and wherever you go shopping in India, make sure to bargain like mad, wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and look after your belongings. Be safe, and have fun shopping!

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