Shopping in India
India is a shopper’s paradise! There is an astonishing variety of dazzling clothes, shoes, jewelry, handicrafts, spices, souvenirs and much more to buy in India. You can find all these items at different shopping places all across the country, ranging from traditional bazaars to high-end malls.
It’s hard to resist as you can shop until you drop! This article will give you tips on where to shop, what to buy, how to avoid touts, and of course the art of haggling.
- Traditional Indian bazaars sell products ranging from textiles, spices, accessories, and antiques.
- Department stores in India sell a mix of local and international products.
- Kolkata is the largest shopping destination in east India.
- Using local currency is the most common payment method in India.
- Tips on what to buy and take home as souvenirs.
Traditional bazaars and shopping stores in India
For an authentic Indian experience, the traditional bazaars are the way to go. They have been a vital part of Indian culture, trade and social life. It’s a melting pot of colorful outdoor stalls, giving a lively atmosphere, and offering an array of products, such as textiles, jewelry, antiques, handcrafted souvenirs, and spices but at a more affordable price.
Department stores and boutiques sell a range of international products as well as Indian-made but of much higher quality and more expensive. If you want to get out of the soaring temperature, then these stores and boutiques will have air-conditioning so you can leisurely stroll and admire the products...
Traditional Indian bazaars and Craft centers
The Indian bazaars are the best sensory guides to the country’s diversity. The smells, the colors, the sense of organized chaos with street vendors fighting for space with cars, trucks, carts, rickshaws, but in the midst of this there are throngs of treasures to be found.
These bazaars are scattered all across India, with most of them found in regions like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Mumbai, and Delhi. A visit to the bazaars takes you on a journey.
Craft centers of India present a unique heritage of Indian culture, ethnicities, and religions displayed in their handiwork, such as in their paintings and wood-art. Each state and regions, like Delhi, Gujarat, and Assam have its own rich tradition of handicrafts and artworks that narrate the legacy of India’s colorful culture. They are unique, intricate, eye-catching, and expressive in their own way.
Department stores and boutiques in India
Department stores in India sell a wide range of products and goods. Most of them sell a mix of Indian and international goods.
These department stores stock a variety of products from clothes to kitchenware. Their products range greatly in the quality of their goods, from expensive international brands of cosmetics and clothes, to discount stores where everyone can find something affordable.
From street shopping to designer wear, bazaars to department stores, boutiques can be found in many of the major cities. Boutiques give you extremely unique designs of ethnic, casual and formal, specifically designed and one-of-a-kind. There are suits to skirts, vibrant saris to modern designer dresses, that are favored above all else.
The best places to find these boutiques are in Mumbai and Delhi.
Specialist stores in India
Specialty stores offer limited products. However, the quality of these products are known to be of high quality and sought after, with the most common items being textiles, clothing, paintings, electronics, appliances, and tea products.
These specialty stores can be found all across India. Some examples of specialty stores are Pantaloons, Steel Junction, Metal Junction, Food Bazaar, Haldiram Bhujiwala, the Music World, Nokia World, Sony World, Khadims, Adidas, Bata, Raymonds, Ganguram, KC Das, Bausch and Lomb, Apollo Pharmacy, and Sifyiway.
Popular shopping areas in India
Shopping in India is a wonderful experience. To help you with your shopping adventure, here are some of the best places to go shopping.
New Delhi’s shopping centers and Old Delhi’s traditional market
Delhi is the preferred place for shopaholics of India.
The plush malls of the west and south Delhi to the vibrant Dilli Haat or street markets of Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, and Palika Bazaar, each place has its special charm.
You can find all kinds of items here, ranging from accessories, clothes, and handicrafts, to electronics and automobiles.
Sarojini Nagar Market is one of the most famous street markets in New Delhi. The market sells the export of surplus items at a very cheap price. You can always find the latest fashion trends in clothes, bags, and shoes.
- Address: Bir Tikendrajit Rd, Thangal Bazar, Imphal, Manipur, India
- Opening Hours: Every day, 3 am to 7 pm.
Kolkata’s New Markets and Sudder Street
Kolkata is the largest shopping destination in east India. You can find exquisite handicrafts from the north-eastern states in Kolkata’s markets.
The New Market in Kolkata is the oldest Indian street market. It is home to around 2,000 stalls that sells an assortment of grocery products and confectionary items to garments and accessories.
Sudder Street is a street in Kolkata famous for cheap hotels, where foreign tourists often prefer to stay during their time in Kolkata.
One of the shops in Sudder Street is Sunshine. This place is maintained by two brothers and has a large variety of embroidered bags and silver jewelry. You can bargain and can get some amazing items at affordable prices.
- Address: Bertram Street, Lenin Sarani, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal 700017, India
- Opening hours: Every day except Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm.
Mumbai’s Colaba Causeway and Kemp’s Corner
Mumbai is the fashion capital of India, as well with fine dining and entertainment. The city is full of modern sophisticated malls, flea markets, and designer boutiques.
Fashion Street and Linking Road are known for offering high-end couture, the latest fashion, accessories, and artifacts.
Colaba Causeway in South Mumbai is the ideal haunt for fashionistas and youngsters as it is the place to find awesome collections of stylish and funky items. There are also plenty of food outlets there.
Kemps Corner is an upmarket neighborhood in South Mumbai. The place is home to several upmarket residential establishments as well as high-end shopping outlets. Some of the malls here include Sobo Central Mall and Orchid City Centre Mall.
- Address: Lala Nigam Street | Colaba, Mumbai 400005, India
- Opening hours: Every day, 10 am to 9 pm.
Chennai’s traditional bazaars and boutique shops
A heart-warming city like Chennai has a lot to offer, especially for the shopaholics!
Besides being home to a number of iconic markets, the city has seen an increase in modern shopping malls, boutiques, and emporiums over the past few decades giving you a great shopping option at affordable prices.
T. Nagar is the most important hub for shopping in the city. This place is famous for its collection of sari stores and gold jewelry. One of the famous bazaars of this city is the Pondy Bazaar. This is the place for some trendy clothes, footwear, mobile phones, and accessories.
Chennai has several high-end boutiques all across the city. These boutiques sell clothing of high quality, such as sarees, jewelry, and home décor. Some of these boutiques include Amethyst, Evoluzione, and Moksha Chennai.
- Address: Ranganathan Street, Chennai (Madras), India
- Opening hours: Every day, 9 am to 8 p.m.
Popular souvenirs to bring home from India
Souvenir hunting is and will always be an integral part of traveling. India is home to thousands of hand-made products that serve as perfect souvenirs. Some of the souvenirs include textiles and stoneware.
Here are some recommendations that you can bring home.
India excels at making textiles, including cotton, silk, wool, and linen, plus an incredible array of homegrown printing and embroidering techniques. Embroidered goods can take the form of clothing, thick scarfs, table linens, and decorative bedspreads.
Every region in India has some special fabric or prints. The most popular fabrics to buy in India are hand-printed fabrics with ethnic motifs called khadi, ikat, jute, and silk fabrics.
Pashmina shawls are one of the most preferred gift items from India. This unique product from Kashmir is made with fine, hand-spun fiber. It is rich in nature and fine in texture that it is also known as ‘soft gold’.
Rajasthan’s block printed cotton fabric is also very popular. Block print textiles come in many shapes and colors, ranging from scarves to bedspreads to tablecloths.
Some block print textiles have geometric prints that cover the entire fabric, while others have an ornate border and plain interiors.
The colorful country of India has a legacy in paintings and other canvas related artwork. There are varieties of authentic Indian art forms and regional painting styles like Madhubani paintings, Tanjore paintings, and Warli paintings that you can take back as souvenirs.
Originating in the Mithila region of India, the Madhubani paintings are known for their distinct geometrical patterns. The designs and patterns on these paintings are mostly inspired by Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Scenes from the royal courts and social events like weddings are also depicted in the paintings.
There are also miniature paintings which are handmade depicting scenes from the Mughal era or of Indian royalty.
The miniature paintings are inspired by the rock paintings from the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters and the Ajanta Caves. They are done on canvas or on paper. A great gift that can easily be packed into your suitcase!
Pottery is considered to be the most sensual form of all arts. North India is also known for pottery designs with various colors, ranging from orange, brown and light red in Uttar Pradesh to black and dark red in Himachal Pradesh.
In Rajasthan, Bikaner is famous for its painted pottery, Pokhran for its pottery with geometrical patterns and Alwar for its Kagzi pottery.
The blue pottery of Jaipur is probably the most famous. Its roots trace back to the Mongol and Chinese techniques of glazing tiles. The blue color comes from the Indigo dye that is used to make the pottery.
You can buy pieces of surahis, pots and cylindrical jars, decorative items like ash-trays, tiles, flower pots, lampstands, beads, earrings, soap dishes, jugs, mugs, and doorknobs.
Tea and herbal beauty products
India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world. Assam, Darjeeling, Munnar, Ooty, and Coonoor are the main tea producing regions in India. If you are traveling to any of these places then buy the tea from a factory outlet in these cities.
The most popular tea varieties in India are Assam Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Terai Tea, Kangra Tea, Nilgiri Tea and Annamalai Tea from Tamil Nadu, Wayanad, Travancore, Munnar Tea, and Karnataka Tea.
Ayurvedic products are also popular souvenirs. These products are chemical-free and are made from natural herbs. Ayurvedic skin products such as cleansers, moisturizers, skin softening creams, massage oils, and hair revitalizing products are very popular these days.
Tips for shopping in India
When planning your trip, it’s good to make note of what to buy in each region so you get the best deals and know what to look for. Do be careful about the quality and authenticity of the products you select. Prices and quality of the products vary wildly.
Here are some shopping tips for you.
Most stores in the shopping malls and bazaars in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai are usually open on weekdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 10 pm.
On Sundays, these shops are usually only open in the morning.
How to pay
The Indian rupee is accepted everywhere in India. The easiest way to get Indian rupees is to exchange your foreign currency at the airport.
Larger stores and malls will accept major international credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa, but it is advisable for you to carry some cash with you at all times.
Rights and refunds
You can haul up manufacturers and service providers who fail to give you a receipt for payments made towards the purchase of goods and services as according to the Consumer Protection Act. Failure to issue a cash receipt constitutes an unfair trade practice.
Receipts are also important for returning or exchanging damaged goods.
If you see something you like at a market, don't immediately buy it from the first stall you come across. Instead, walk around the market first.
There will be other vendors selling the same thing and they may even have a better variety for a cheaper price.
The first thing to remember when you encounter touts is to keep your cool. Treat them with civility and humor if you can muster it.
What works nicely is if you avoid eye contact as much as possible, join your palms in a polite Namaste, and keep shaking your head as you edge your way out.
Explore Indian Markets with Asia Highlights
You cannot resist shopping in India as there are so many beautiful handicrafts and such variety. Let Asia Highlights help you plan your exotic India vacation, and assist you to hunt for the best bargains to take back with you as a reminder of your time.