Shopping in India: Top 10 Things to Buy

Updated February 23, 2020

Mariellen Ward is a JourneyWoman who writes about India, yoga and transformational travel on her blog, BreatheDreamGo. She has traveled for more than a year altogether in India and recently published her first book, Song of India. She also leads small group tours to some of her favourite places in India. Mariellen writes…

India is a shopper’s paradise. You just can’t beat the combination India offers: an incredible variety of gorgeous items, most often hand-made, at temptingly low prices. I suggest that for higher-cost items, such as pashmina shawls, you make sure you know what you are buying; and that the dealer is reputable.

Here’s my list of the top 10 things to buy in India.

TEXTILES — India is famous for cotton and silk clothing, bed covers, table cloths, and wall hangings. Many of these come adorned with hand beading and/or hand embroidery which will make you feel like an Indian princess.

JEWELRY — Indian women love jewelry, and the bigger and more ornate the better. There is an astounding variety of real and costume jewelry – to go with your princess look.

Do you have a favorite JourneyBabe at home? Pick up some tiny bangles in a myriad of colors to wear and to play with. Very inexpensive!

PASHMINA SHAWLS — Real pashmina is a type of cashmere wool that comes from pashmina goats in the Himalayas. It is very costly. So, if someone offers you a pashmina for the equivalent of $10, it’s probably a blend (at best). That doesn’t mean that they aren’t beautiful. Buy them and store them in your gift drawer. Your pals will love them.

SHOES — From inexpensive leather juttis (traditional embroidered slippers) to crystal-beaded, high-heeled evening sandals, shoes in India are fun and frivolous … and very tempting.

SCENTED PRODUCTS — India is, of course, the land of incense. And attar, a type of natural perfume extracted from flowers, herbs, spices, or barks, has been in use in India since ancient times.

TEA AND SPICES The champagne of tea, Darjeeling, comes from the hills of North-east India; and Assam and Nilgiri teas are excellent types to look for, too. Though you will see spices sold in open bags in the market, it’s a much better idea to buy packed spices to take home with you. Roopak is a great brand.

ARTS AND CRAFTS — Throughout India, traditional artisans make lovely rugs, furniture, pottery, clothing, textiles, jewelry – usually with unique regional variations. And all of it is for sale in Delhi, so you can buy all your gifts at the end of your trip. That said if you come across something truly unique that you love and it isn’t too heavy to carry, buy it. Or ship/mail it home if possible. The opportunity might not present itself again.

BOOKS — India publishes a LOT of books in English, at very affordable prices (though the quality is sometimes sacrificed). You be the judge. P.S. It’s always fun to pick up cookbooks from a culture different from your own.

AYURVEDIC PRODUCTS — such as skincare and herbal remedies. Several commercial brands, such as Biotique, Himalaya and Shahnaz Herbal, are readily available. P.S. It always makes sense to research anything you are going to ingest. Skincare products should be tested on a very small area to see if it agrees with your body.

MUSIC AND MOVIES — Classical Indian and devotional music CDs, and Bollywood DVDs, are a great buy and make for a long-lasting souvenir.

Mariellen Ward is a JourneyWoman who writes about travel in India on her blog, BreatheDreamGo. She has traveled for more than six years altogether in India and lives in Rishikesh — the Yoga capital of the world. She also runs India for Beginners, a custom tour company designed to help women and first-time travellers travel safely and well. Mariellen estimates she has spent at least a year of that time shopping her way through this wondrous destination. We asked Mariellen to give us some hints about the unique things to buy for ourselves or to bring home as ‘goodies’ for those we love. Here are her tips and you can read more on her Shopping in India Guide

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