- Chai (tea) a popular drink among the Indians.
- Bringing home some authentic Indian spices.
- Sarees are traditional Indian women clothing that makes a perfect gift for your friends or family.
India is a diverse country, with a vast culture to be explored and experienced. With that vast amount of culture, a number of trinkets and souvenirs started to appear. Whether it is clothing, jewelry, or food, you can find it all in India.
When you think of Indian clothing, saree is the first thing that comes to mind. When you think of Indian food, you will think of the spices they are made with. There are just so many items that resemble India. This article will guide you through some of the more popular items.
Whether for gifts or personal use, souvenir hunting is and will always be an integral part of traveling. When you are embarking on a voyage in India, there are just so many items that make a perfect souvenir to bring home.
There are many handicraft items available in India. You can find unique and different pieces all across the country. Some of these include pottery and paintings.
There are also food and clothing that are worthy for you to bring home as souvenirs.
Pashmina is made from the wool of three kinds of Pashmina goats that produce the wool known as Pashm. The wool is extremely fine, soft and light.
Prepared in Kashmir region Pashmina is known in the local language as "soft gold". Despite the fact that Pashmina is expensive, the Pashmina Shawl is one of the preferred gift items from India. They are available in a variety of colors and with delicate hand embroidery patterns.
Indian carpets are visibly more radiant than any other carpets you will find in other countries. Elaborate designs, distinct color combination and rich use of patterns take them ahead of the league.
Kashmiri carpets are handmade and hand-knotted in Kashmir. Carpet weaving is a small scale industry in Kashmir. They can be made in silk, wool or a combination of both.
The higher the knots in a carpet, the higher the price of the carpet. Silk carpets with higher knots are prized possessions and are typically passed down generations.
The saree is probably the most popular piece of cloth to be synonymous with India. Being the iconic dress for Indian woman, sarees come in 25 different designs and texture. Each region of the country has its own type of saree.
Made with intensive labor and brilliant handwork, silk saris are both a unique piece of Indian culture and a luxurious souvenir to take back.
Chanderi sarees are amongst the best examples of the handloom in India. The transparency and the luster of the material make it stand apart from other handloom products in India.
Silk and cotton are mixed to make the base for Chanderi sarees. Motifs of flowers, net patterns, coins, and other traditional shapes are then inserted in the saree. The motifs are mainly inspired by earth, sky, birds, flowers, man and woman.
Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city, is not only known for its spiritual and religious legacy but has also famous for thousands of years for its woven gossamer cotton. Varanasi's textile artisans are skilled at weaving silk with gold and silver thread, creating ornate brocades, and embellishing materials with exquisite floral motifs.
In this city, you'll find brocades decorated with clouds, lotus flowers, and flame motifs for Tibetan monasteries. A wide range of brocade fabrics and clothing are sold in the city. If you'd like to have something tailor-made, you can buy your favorite fabrics first and then use a local tailor to craft a scarf or other item for you.
India's ethnic and traditional footwear also makes a good souvenir. A jutti, commonly seen with a pointed toe and flat sole, is one of the most popular types of Indian shoes and is worn by both men and women. Juttis are often made with leather, embroidered with colorful threads, and possibly decorated with beads or pearls.
Juttis, also known as Mojari is some states, have a great variety of regional variations. They can be brought in most retail shops in North India, especially in Rajasthan and Punjab. In South India, leather sandals, or chappals, are more prevalent and are sold throughout markets.
Ayurvedic products are cosmetic and medicinal serums, cosmetics, and soaps that are all made while following the guidelines of Indian traditional medicine called Ayurveda. Ayurveda has become increasingly popular in the world, matching the similar popularity of yoga. Both Ayurveda and yoga are native to India.
This ancient therapy has helped people in recovering from different ailments. Ayurvedic products claim to cure and prevent health issues in the course of time with no side effects. They play a major role as beauty products as well.
Ayurvedic products do not contain unnatural chemicals and are instead made from natural herbs. The most common ingredients found in these products are aloe vera, bael fruit, ginger, turmeric, vanilla, basil, blue lotus, sandalwood, coconut oil, and shea butter. Some brands work with local forest communities and small-scale farmers to ensure the purity of their natural products.
Ayurvedic skin products such as cleansers, moisturizers, skin softening creams, massage oils, and hair products are very popular. These make an ideal gift to take home as souvenirs for family and friends.
The Kama Ayurveda and Kairali Ayurvedic Groups are some of the best brands and are known for their effective therapeutic remedies. Their range of skincare and body products were created using traditional healing methods with the goal of nourishing the body.
Sandalwood is said to be the second most expensive wood in the world, after African Blackwood. Sandalwood paste is prepared by grinding the sandalwood on another wooden slab.
Sandalwood is a fragrant wood with which many beautiful products are carved. Boxes, small models of animals, ashtrays, Kathakali dance postures, candle stands are just some of the fine products.
Aside from being made into art crafts, sandalwood can also be used to make cosmetic products. The South Indian city of Mysore has been producing the sandalwood soap since 1916.
Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that uses aromatic materials, mostly essential oils and aroma compounds, to improve physical health. Besides essential oils, a wide range of products like aromatherapy candles, diffusers, soaps, bathing salts, body lotions, and clay masks are also available in India and have the same effects of easing stress and boosting energy.
When applying essential oils to your skin through massage, you will notice they activate your smell receptors and cause a response in some parts of your body like joints and muscles. Pure essential oils are extracted from natural plants or herbs through a distillation process and are not like ordinary oils that are blended with chemicals or fragrances.
The most popular essential oils in India are ginger, peppermint, geranium, cypress, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, and cedarwood. You can easily find them in most pharmacies or at airport shops.
Madhubani painting is practiced in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent. The paintings are made with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks. Using natural dyes and pigments, Madhubani paintings can be characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns.
These paintings usually resemble various Hindu themes such as Lord Krishna dance scenes and beautiful village landscapes. Madhubani paintings are an ideal way to decorate a home with Indian patterns, artwork, and colors.
The tradition of creating intricate and vivid miniature paintings is still widely practiced across Rajasthan. In many of the major cities of this state, you'll find shops and ateliers where painters skillfully recreate old miniature paintings on canvas, postcards, and letters. Many painters insist upon using natural pigments as that is what was traditionally used for thousands of years.
The themes of this artwork mainly include court scenes, religious and mythological stories, depictions of festivals, grand processions, and historic battles. Today human figures, animals, and flowers are also often painted and can be easily found in most souvenir shops in Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Udaipur.
Blue Pottery is widely recognized as a traditional craft of Jaipur. It is a craft which traces its ancestry to the Mongol and Chinese techniques of glazing tiles. This was first introduced in India by the Mughals.
The name 'Blue Pottery' comes from the eye-catching cobalt blue dye used to color the pottery. The pottery is made by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti or Fuller's Earth, borax, gum, and water.
Some of this pottery is semi-transparent and mostly decorated with bird and other animal motifs. The range of items is primarily decorative, such as ashtrays, vases, coasters, small bowls, and boxes for trinkets.
Stoneware is particularly influenced by the pietra dura motifs on the Taj Mahal. Which is a beautiful and artistic method of inlaying intricate designs into stone. The traditional form of Indian stoneware includes flowers such as tulips, lilies, irises, and poppies that have been inlaid into a marble base.
Today, designers have created a more contemporary collection of tableware by using white marble and adding intricate and modern designs.
To suit the style of modern homes products like platters, plates, and bowls are often made with delicate patterns carved with silver and gold foil. This type of stoneware is widely available in most souvenir shops in Agra. The shopping arcades at the Oberoi and Taj Hotels are also good places to shop for premium tableware.
Terracotta is the term used for unglazed earthenware, and for ceramic sculpture. Indian sculpture made heavy use of terracotta from a very early period.
The Terracotta Pottery made by tribes of Chhattisgarh is one of such arts that deserve global recognition. Mostly inspired by nature such as the sun, moon, and wildlife, the pottery makes great decorative items.
Bishnupur is another place in the state of West Bengal which is famous for its terracotta temples. Figurines and sculptures made of terracotta with a lot of detailed work are widely available in this region and make a very beautiful souvenir.
Oil lamps play an important role in ancient India. In Vedic times, the fire was kept alive in every household in some form and carried by oneself while migrating to new locations.
Later, the presence of fire in the household or a religious building was replaced by an oil lamp. Over the years various rituals and customs were woven around an oil lamp.
Now, oil lamps are used as a house decoration. They come in different designs, shapes, and sizes. Traditional oil lamps make a unique gift and keepsake options from India.
India is the 2nd largest producer of tea in the world. It was the British East India Company that commenced the large scale cultivation of tea in the North East regions of India.
Anybody who has visited India, know the love of chai (tea) amongst Indians. There are different varieties of tea found in the country. Each tea plantation grows a distinct variety that varies in taste, color, and method of processing.
Some popular tea varieties in India are Assam Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Terai Tea, Kangra Tea, Nilgiri Tea, and Annamalai Tea.
Darjeeling and Assam teas are the best-known varieties of tea from India. Darjeeling tea is famous for its delicate muscatel flavor, while Assam tea has a stronger taste and darker color. Nilgiri tea, grown in the hills of Nilgiri district and Munnar, is known for its intense fragrance and taste.
Tea lovers can taste the different varieties of tea during their stay in India. Besides those listed above, it's also possible to try different types of tea such as green tea (widely consumed in Kashmir) and masala chai (a milk tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and clove). Travelers can find many of India's best tea beverages at street stalls and restaurants.
It is also possible to experience India's tea industry first hand. If you are interested in tea plantations and visiting picturesque gardens, a stop at the terraced hills of an Indian tea plantation is a great way to take in the country's beauty. Here, you will see pickers working in the fields while carrying a basket full of plucked tea leaves.
Darjeeling (in West Bengal) or Munnar (South India's largest tea-growing region) are the best tea gardens to experience. Taste the different varieties of tea during your stay in India, and take back with you the fragrance of Indian tea as a souvenir.
There is a long list of spices that are native to India. Spices are an integral part of Indian cooking. Whether one likes Indian cuisine or not, it can't be ignored that the spices grown in India are of the finest quality. The aroma is such that no one can ignore it.
Due to various climatic conditions in different parts of the country, each region in India produces different spices.
In Kerala, the land of spices, the spice trade dates back thousands of years and at one point was so valuable that it inspired the European colonization of India.
An abundance of spices such as pepper, turmeric, cloves, star anise, tamarind, cardamom, and cinnamon have infused the local cuisine with a range of exotic aromas and flavors.
When shopping for spices, you can distinguish the quality of what you are buying from the color. For example, the color of turmeric can range from deep yellow to bright yellow. The deeper the yellow, the higher quality of the spice.
You can also get an idea of the quality by crush a spice with your fingers and smelling the aroma. The spices should be dried and packaged in sealed packets.
If you are interested in the spice trade, you can visit some of the oldest spice merchants in the Cochin, the main city of Kerala. Here, you can learn more about their rich flavors and natural healing properties as well as try some spice mixtures like tea blends and fruit blends. If you choose to take a cooking class on your trip, you will learn how to grind and toast the spices to get a stronger scent.
Spices are a major part of the Indian lifestyle and can be found all over the country from supermarkets and local bazaars to retail food stores. Khari Baoli, in Delhi, is Asia's largest spice market and is known for its wholesale grocery.
Today, the ready-made masalas made with spices are popular in India. The Madras curry powder, the chicken tikka masala, and the butter chicken masala add a distinct flavor to food. Pick up some ready-made masala mixes to take and try at home.
There is a variety of jewelry in India, especially in Rajasthan, where jewelry is an integral part of the local culture and the creation of it has been supported by royal rulers for hundreds of years.
Jaipur is one of the best places to go for silver jewelry especially pieces such as nose rings, bangles, and bracelets. This city also the center of lapidary where jewelry is encrusted with emeralds and diamonds from Africa, South America, and India.
Jeweled trinket boxes, Sarpech (turban ornaments), and Kundankari (elaborate traditional pieces set in gold foil) all can be found in sophisticated designs and jewelers appeal to every taste. The Gem Palace and Amrapali are reputable stores to shop for luxury jewelry.
The tribal jewelry from Jharkhand is special as it is one of the prime interests of the tribes and secondly the art is rate and less known about.
The major jewelry would be neck-pieces, earrings, and ornaments worn on the wrists and other parts of the arms. Brass, bell-metal, silver, and gold are chiefly used to make jewelry by the tribes.
These souvenirs can be found in all major cities across India.
In Delhi, you can head to Connaught Place for men's clothes, khadi (handspun, hand-woven cloth), packaged spices, and books. The Khan Market is for women's clothes, shoes, and jewelry, while the Old Delhi is for spices, dried fruit, wedding clothes, and silver jewelry.
In Kolkata, head to New Market for textiles, footwear, and electronics. Dakshinapan Shopping Centre for jewelry, fabrics, and furniture. Chowringhee Road for local terracotta and brass products.
In Mumbai, you can find brass artifacts, pottery, and woodcraft in Avante Cottage. Crafts, elegant rugs, traditional clothes, flavored teas, and delicate brass sculptures can be found in the Bombay Store.
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.
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