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 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.
Traditional Indian bazaars
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.
Traditional Indian Craft centers
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.
Indian vibrant sari
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.
Old Delhi's traditional market and New Delhi's shopping centers
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.
Chandni Chowk is one of the most legendary bazaars in Old Delhi. Today, this great wholesale bazaar's narrow streets are lined with a variety of shops, spilling their goods out onto the pavement.
Each lane specializes in a commodity. If you are looking for silver items and jewelry, the Dariba Kalan region is the place. If you would like to purchase Indian spices, head to Khari Baoli. Khari Baoli is actually Asian's largest spice market and sells all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs, rice, and tea.
Indian dry fruits
- Address: Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
- Opening Hours: Every day from 9:30 am to 8 pm except Sunday
Dilli Haat is better known as a traditional weekly market and looks quaint and local due to its deliberately made thatched roof. The market sells a good variety of Indian handicrafts such as fabrics, paintings, jewelry, and more. Dilli Haat also showcases live performances of regional dance and music.
Recently, some stalls in Dilli Haat have started selling imported Chinese goods instead of Indian crafted items, but the market is still worth a visit to feel the atmosphere of a local bazaar. If you are searching for some unique handicrafts, Dastkar Nature Bazaar, which is near the Qutub Minar, might be a better option.
- Address: INA Market, Dilli Haat, Kidwai Nagar West, Kidwai Nagar, Delhi
- Opening Hours: Every day 11 am to 10 pm
Janpath Market, also called the Tibetan market, is one of the city's most lively shopping areas and sells almost everything from Indian textiles, Western clothes, and Tibetan accessories to handicrafts, paintings, and antiques. If you are shopping here, remember to practice your bargaining skills.
- Address: Janpath Rd, Connaught Place, New Delhi
- Opening Hours: 10 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday and 11 am to 8 pm on Sunday
Khan Market, established in 1951, is located in one of the most expensive real estate areas in India. This market was built in a U-shape and is a double-story complex that accommodates hundreds of shops. Most stores here sell a diverse range of beauty products made from natural herbs, oils and, plants. The market also sells garments, books, decorative items, fresh produce, and more.
Shopping in Khan Market, with its colorful signs and crowded alleyways, is a truly unique experience. You will also find some excellent tailors, trendy boutiques, relaxing cafes, and food stalls to spend your time.
- Address: Close to India Gate, Humayun Road, New Delhi
- Opening Hours: 10 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday and 11 am to 8 pm on Sunday
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
Established in 1874, the New Market in Kolkata is the oldest Indian street market. It is home to around 2,000 stalls that sell an assortment of grocery products, confectionery items, garments, and accessories. Visitors can find everything here, from Chinese sausages to interesting items from Tibet.
The market also has several renowned confectioners, such as Nahoum & Sons who are famous for their fruit cakes, brownies, macaroons, and much more. Imperial Confectioners and D Gama are also good places to have a sweet treat.
- Address: Lindsay St, New Market Area, Dharmatala, Taltala,
- Opening hours: 10 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday, 10 am to 2:30 pm on Saturday, and closed on Sunday
Sudder Street, behind the Indian Museum, is another popular shopping center. One of the major shops here is called Sunshine and is maintained by two brothers and sells a large variety of embroidered bags and silver jewelry.
When wandering through the bazaar, you can bargain and try to get some amazing items at affordable prices and catch a glimpse of lively street life. Watch out for scammers and people selling items that are too good to be true.
- Address: Bertram Street, Lenin Sarani, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata
- 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 is a commercial street known as the "Culture Square" of Mumbai. This area is home to some of the city's most-famous buildings like the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Regal Cinema, and the Prince of Wales Museum.
The street is the ideal shopping spot for fashionistas and youngsters who come to look through the market's awesome collection of stylish and funky items such as electronics, cosmetics, and clothes. There are also plenty of food outlets, cafes, and roadside eateries.
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.
Crawford Market is a traditional market for fresh produce that lies to the north of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Here, rows of wooden stalls display nearly 3,000 tons of fresh produce from fruits and vegetables to flowers and fish.
Fresh produce market
West of this market you'll find Zaveri Bazaar where they sell diamonds, jewelry, and silverware. Northwest of the market is Chor Bazaar which is full of antique stores.
- Address: Lala Nigam Street | Colaba, Mumbai 400005, India
- Opening hours: Every day, 10 am to 9 pm.
Jaipur's Johari Bazaar and Tripolia Bazaar
Jaipur is a center of jewelers and specializes in cutting emeralds and diamonds from Africa, South America, and various regions of India. Generations of highly skilled jewelers have lived and worked here since the era of the Mughal court, making Jaipur the best place to shop for sophisticated Indian jewelry.
Besides jewelry and ornaments, you can also find beautiful Rajasthani style clothes, textiles, and traditional shoes called jootis.
Rajasthani traditional shoes called jootis
Johari Bazaar is the city's main hub for precious stones, gems, and a variety of jeweled crafts like decorated boxes, turban ornaments, and handmade necklaces. This place is a shopping paradise, and most visitors leave with at least one piece of beautiful new jewelry or ornaments.
There are also vegetable and fruit sellers sitting at one end of the street where travelers can see more of the local culture.
- Address: A walking distance from the City Palace and Jantar Mantar
- Opening hours: Every day from 10 am to 11 pm
Tripolia Bazaar is full of tiny workshops that make lac jewelry which is a popular type of Indian style jewelry that comes in many vibrant colors. Here, shops sell a wide range of lac jewelry and beautiful bangles.
It's also a good place searching for textiles, especially Bandhani, a type of tie-dye fabric that is popularly worn as a sari. There are also other selections of handwoven textiles, designer carpets, and handicrafts.
Beautiful ornaments and handicrafts
- Address: Tripolia Bazar Street, Jaipur
- Opening hours: 10 am to 7 pm from Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday
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.
Hyderabad's Laad Bazaar
In the heart of the Old City, Charminar is Hyderabad's signature landmark and also the hub of a busy commercial area surrounded by lively bazaars selling a variety of goods from pearls to cabbages.
Laad Bazaar is a colorful bazaar full of goods in many hues, textures, and scents. The word "laad" means lacquer, which is the main material used to make lac bangles. The bazaar offers a wide variety of products including bangles, tinsel, embroidery, brocade turbans, henna, herbal potions, and wedding items.
You can also find perfume oils sold in tiny bottles. Though often a chaotic experience, walking through the stalls can lead to interesting bargains.
- Address: Char Kaman, Ghansi Bazaar, Hyderabad, Telangana
- Opening hours: every day 11 am to 10 pm
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.
Decorated Ceramic Bowls And Plates
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.
Sandalwood paste extraction
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.
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.
Our staff will take care of everything, ensuring you and your family a hassle-free adventure that you will never forget.