ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shoptastic India!

Updated on February 5, 2019
High Street Ken it ain't
High Street Ken it ain't

There are many good reasons to visit India: the temples, the culture, the palaces, the sights and sounds, the experience – I could go on. But one of the really fun things to do is of course the shopping – a pastime adored by most women, and misunderstood by men. I call it redistribution of wealth and try to put a philanthropic spin on it. But if you need to buy gifts for those back home, there is no better place than India, where there are so many fantastic things that are lightweight, easily packed and transportable. Admittedly most gift ideas are for women and things for men are a bit thin on the ground, but you can’t go wrong with a cashmere scarf or two, can you?

A tricky choice...
A tricky choice...


You’ll find silk items all over India, from scarves to cushion covers, bed spreads to table cloths, inevitably made up in glorious, outrageous colours. The silk from the city of Varanasi is renowned for being especially fine, and along the Ganges you’ll see boat-loads of women pouring in to visit their favourite shops and buy new saris. You’ll find silk shops all along the river front, and they make wonderful, calm retreats after the chaos of everything happening outside.

Shawls and Pashminas

These can be found all over India, with a variety of qualities, from the dirt cheap to the hugely upmarket. If you’re suddenly feeling cold, there are shawls with printed patterns you can pick up for almost nothing, but you can also go to specialist places and find genuine, fine items, both patterned and plain, for more credit-busting prices.

Colourful outside, too
Colourful outside, too


In Rajasthan, especially Jodhpur, you’ll find fantastic embroidered and mirrored wall hangings, said to be made up of old desert wedding dresses. Each one is unique, and guaranteed to make a statement in any room.

A beautiful lady in Jaisalmer
A beautiful lady in Jaisalmer


There are jewellery shops all over India, selling silver and a wide variety of precious and semi-precious gems. One of the most fun afternoons I had was in Delhi, in a shop in the arcade leading up to the Red Fort, where we were allowed to pour through boxes of rings, bracelets and pendants, pretty much for all going for the price of costume jewellery in Europe.

Star anise and nutmeg - lovely gifts and so easy to bring home
Star anise and nutmeg - lovely gifts and so easy to bring home


It was in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, that there were a great many specialist spice shops, though you’ll find stalls all over India. Here you can buy huge bags of black mustard seeds, nutmeg, star anise, saffron and all the spices that are either hard to come by or expensive in European or western stockists.


The Indians are hooked on Chai, which is sweetened tea boiled with milk – the first sip you take tastes pretty filthy but it quickly grows on you – especially on long train rides. In Jodhpur again it’s possible to find a variety of teas for sale: mint, ginger, rose and a wonderful concoction called Himalayan Kava (not to be confused with the alcoholic Spanish Cava!), which is made up of saffron, cardamom pods and cinnamon, boiled for five minutes.

Not quite what the doctor ordered?
Not quite what the doctor ordered?


India is full of smells, from musky incense sticks to the rosewater sprinkled to calm dusty streets on a hot day, and it’s possible to stock up all kinds of products, including essential oils, such as jasmine, lavender, rose or amber, as well as incense sticks, perfumes, solid perfumes, soaps, shower gels, shampoos and massage oils, like this wonderfully-named Heart Erection.


Ganesh, Shiva and Buddha, there are replicas of religious icons to be found all over India. They needn’t cost much, but might be a tad on the heavy side – buy at your last destination!


All over India you’ll find traditional Indo-Persian style paintings, many of which depict Gods, Goddesses and Mughal Shahs, as well as decorated elephants. In Varanasi I stumbled upon a watercolour artist who painted Varanasi’s architecture and lively ghats – easy to roll up and slip into the side of your suitcase.

Colourful kilims
Colourful kilims

Rugs & Kilims

Less easy to transport back, perhaps, but in plentiful supply nonetheless, many of the rugs are taken from the Mughal style which is, of course, influenced by the Persians. True ruggies may disapprove, but they still make an elegant addition to any room.

Colourful Bits & Bobs

India is perfect if you’re shopping for girls, with colourful handbags, notebooks, sparkly pens, bangles, hanging mobiles – all sorts of gift ideas. Sadly for boys it’s trickier. My kitchen cupboards are adorned with cheery Indian porcelain door knobs, and you'll find lovely hooks for kitchen or even bathroom towels, too.

A Word on Haggling

Everyone does it and everyone accepts it, but I have to admit (and maybe I’m soft), that there seems something vaguely obscene about a relatively wealthy westerner haggling over what is essentially pocket money with someone for whom that amount could quite possibly buy their family’s supper. Does it make any real sense? So in the past I’ve gone through the motions but accepted the second price offered (if it seems fair, of course – no-one wants to get ripped off) and left it at that. I’d love to know what anyone else thinks!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)