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Shopping in India

Post-economic reforms in India made the country truly paradise for the shoppers, visitors and tourists coming to India. One on the one hand, privatization brought the element of competition among the companies to produce articles with quality at a very competitive rate, globalization helped in bring the world products in Indian market at no-exorbitant price. This mixed with the local advantage of cultural art and craft, and cheap labour has helped in bringing a market flooded with better products at a very low price.

The tourists visiting India are tempted to buy bagful of products back home. However, the tempatation should be resisted to tackle with the custom clearances at airport. So, the tourists have to rein their temptations. In the following lines, few products are given to guide and give a first information report about what one could get at really cheap prices which also are unique to India. But before making the purchases it should be kept in mind that the tourists should keep Indian currency in their pocket as the local traders prefer them in comparison to the foreign currencies. Indian currency is Rupee or INR which is divided into 100 paises; paise only has measurement unit value as 1 paisa, 2 paisa etc could not be found in India unlike cents and penny which are still prevalent in their countries.

What to Buy?

Clothes and Cosmetics

Bangles: In India women and bangles are inseparably related. There may be variation in style for bangles for married and unmarried women but they are present on every female wrist. Today bangles are made from variety of base products like glass, metals, wood and ‘lah’- a wax like material which melts on heating. The fashion makers have designed them in such a way that they appeal to international markets.

Sarees: A traditional women dress worn only in India and some parts of Indian subcontinent. The best designs, embroideries, and fabric could be found to be used in Indian sarees. They look really beautiful and elegant when combined with traditional jewelry. Few of the Hollywood heroines have made them popular wearing on some international events. Kanjivaram Silk Sarees from Tamil Nadu, sarees from Banaras (Varanasi in U.P.) or even cotton sarees from West Bengal and Orissa are worth buying once in India and a must for women wardrobe.

Shawls: Shawls are woolen piece of cloth used for wrapping the body for warmth. India is famous for its Pashmina Shawls which are made of finest wool extracted from the coats of Himalayan pashmina goats. The beautiful embroideries done on the shawls make them truly a fashion statement.

Vests: Vests are hosiery products worn inside the shirt. India being a warm country leave the people sweating most time of the year. Vests are so used to soak the sweat saving the shirt outside as well as lax comfort dressing at home. Many reputed companies have entered into the business of making vests. They are pretty cheap and could be purchased from Indian markets.

Flip Flops: Cheap and cheerful at throw away prices available on street stalls.

Jewellery: Indians, specially women have special penchants for gold, precious stones and jewelry. While men mostly use precious stone because of their belief in astrology and effect of planets and stars, women use them to quench their thirst for looking beautiful. India not only produces gold but also is the largest importer of gold and diamond. The gem cutting and jewelry designing industry here are world famous. The tourist could well try their hands on some beautiful gold jewelry studded with gems, rubies, diamond and other precious stones.

Henna Dye: Henna or mehndi are plant-based products used for coloring and decorating hands and other parts of body. They are used for making “tattoos” with a difference that the color is not permanent. So, one has many options to try new designs every time. Thanks to the pop singers of west, henna dyes have become world famous. The best news is that they are very cheap and available everywhere in India.

Sandals: Sandals are half-shoes and popularly worn in India because of hot and humid climate. Whereas shoes are packed and so feet-sweats is a common complaint in India. Sandals are the solution. Many companies specially Bata, Lakhani, and Relaxo have become world leaders in this industry. Some local sandals are also very famous; chief among them are Kolhapuri sandals.

Salwar Kameez: Indian innovation for pants and shirts. Salwar are like loose pants or pyjamas and kameez are long shirts. They are very elegant dressing for women and comfortable. They are stitched out of various fabrics like cotton, terry-cottons, woolen and silk to suit the use and season.

Kurta Pajama: Male counterpart of Salwar Kameez worn by males in India. They are traditional, elegant, and comfortable and come in many fabric options. They are also used as night dresses by men.

Gamcha: A very thin piece of cloth made of cotton generally used for many purposes like towel, handkerchief and headgear. The utility lies in its quick wash and drying. They are easy to pack and move during journey.


Loose Indian Tea: The morning in India starts from a cup of tea. India is one of the biggest producer and consumer of tea in the world. Some of the finest tea is produced in the tea-estates of North-eastern and Southern India. The tourists could take home fresh tea leaves from the estates of Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiris.

Mango Pickles: A sour and salty preparation made from mixing spices, mustard oil and salt with various fruits and vegetables especially unripe mangoes. The name itself leaves the mouth watery. However, due to security reasons, pickles are not allowed in few airlines. So, if the visitors are adamant to take a jar of pickles with them they should book their tickets in those airlines which allow them in the cargo luggage.

Indian Sweets: Indian people have special penchants for sweets. It is both ingrained in the culture as well as cuisine. No worship is complete without offering sweet dish to the god. Similarly, no food is complete without serving sweets. This is the reason variety of sweets are prepared all over India and every area has some special sweets which are unique to the place. Visiting tourists if do not taste the sweets in India, the journey to the wonder land is only half-way. Some dry sweets could also be carried back home to keep the taste of India alive in the memory.

Saffron: Indian saffron is world famous and so anybody visiting the place must secure some for them when leaving the country.

Bombay Mix and Savouries: In India you will find the best Bombay-mix, you might want to consider getting a few packets of these to take home with you.

Indian Cookbook: The tastes of delicacies of India could not stay forever but the Indian recipe could. The best way to try hand on Indian recipe is to take home Indian cookbook by famous chefs. One suggested name is Indian recipe book by famous chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who has not only enriched the taste of Indian menu but also brought them to the world platters.

Sattu: Unique to India and that too in north Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, sattu is prepared by grinding roasted gram into flour and then consumed in many ways like drinking with water or milk or stuffing inside the parathas.


Ayurvedic Products: A cultural legacy, Ayurveda is a gift from India to the world. Ayurveda gives hope for an alternative form of medicine or to be more accurate dwells on the notion that prevention is better than cure. It teaches the medicinal value of all the natural products consumed by human and so teaches a complete and comprehensive nutrition. In case of any ailment, it emphasizes the use of the natural derivatives for the cure which has practically no side effects unlike the allopathic school of medicine.  

Yoga DVD’s: Again a cultural legacy and gift from India to the world. Ancient form of exercise, lessons drawn from extensive research and observation of animals and human postures and their effect on body, mind and spirit. Thanks to Baba Ramdev in modern times that the lost knowledge has become a homely affair in every household in India. The tourists could try some Yoga CDs to take them back home for a life-long following.

Antibiotics: India being a third world country, the government has made special arrangements to provide cheap medicines essential for life. A large number of antibiotics are sold at a very cheap price in comparison to the world market. So, it anyone outside India visiting the country knows his requirement for medicines he could well purchase here. The stock may not run for a long time but still could save some bucks for them.  

Chyawanprash: Semi-solid, semi-liquid preparation made from grinding and mixing a lot of products of medicinal value. It serves like health tonic for both the kids and adults. The various medicinal ingredients make the body resistant to any outside infections and maintain the internal health of organs.

Haircut: India having abundant workforce, some of the jobs are really underpaid. One of these is the hair cutting parlours in India. One can have international style of hair cut for a payment of half a dollar which is really peanuts.

Amrutanjan: And other like products like zandu balm are very effective for headaches, cough and cold and prepared from plant extracts.

Mosquito Repellent: Climatic conditions in India provide an ideal ground for mosquitoes to breed and so number of mosquito borne diseases. Mosquitoes repellant are thus sold at very low prices for prevention of malaria, dengue, and chickengunya etc. Purchase of few bottles could surely save some money while going back from the country.

Lice Treatment Shampoo: Another cheap product in India and variety of brands are available in the market. Wide options to choose from.

Prescription Glasses: Good quality of international standard.

Tongue Cleaner or Scraper: Indians mouth cleaning entails both brushing and tongue cleaning. The behavious is derived from ancient tradition of using plant stems for brushing which used to be torn in two parts to clean the tongue. Modern living only helped in devising new ways of same. Tongue cleaners are real cheap and one could get more than a dozen in a dollar!!

Penegra: Indian version of Viagra but very cheap in comparison to it, manufactured by the renowned drug company viz. Zydus Alidac (India).

For The Home

Handicrafts and Folk Art: India is a place or craftsmen and handicrafts. Fine work on wood, clothes and canvas could be found in India. The craftsmen pass their talent in their family and one could find the craftsmen having the family tradition of the work since ages. However, the paradox is that these craftsmen do not earn much but the middlemen who market their products book huge profit. It is recommended that the tourists should buy the handicrafts from the small handicraft stores directly from the makers rather than the big shop and showrooms owned by the middlemen.   Some beautiful handicrafts popular in India are bandhini prints of Jaipur, blue-glazed pottery and marble paintings of Jaipur, carvings on sandalwood of Mysore, Madhubani paintings of Bihar, terracotta statuettes of West Bengal,  and carved metal-craft wares of Madhya Pradesh. One is just tempted to buy one of every item to carry back to their native places. Government and corporates have made special arrangements to showcase and promote these handicrafts. Few such places are Dilli Haat in Delhi, Anokhi in Jaipur, Kala Madhyam in Bangalore, and Khazana at the Taj Hotels.

Madhubani Paintings of Bihar: The basic theme of Madhubani paintings are the folk tales from the episodes of either Ramayana or life of Buddha. The colors used are from plant extracts and the face features are shown with marked sharpness.

Rugs: Indian rugs are both durable as well as beautiful. Rugs and carpets are made of different base materials like cotton, jute, wool and silk, depending upon the purpose of use.

Marble: Marbles are used in plenty of ways apart from using in houses and construction. Beautiful statues, boxes, figurines, memento etc are carved out from marble which are used as show pieces in living halls. The prices for all the beautiful products are amazingly low and so never cause to pinch one’s pocket.

Wood Carvings: Mysore sandal wood carvings are very elegant. Very fine carvings on wood used in furnitures, sculptors, idols and other products are done by the craftsmen to give an antique look.

Bed Sheets: Hand-crafted, painted, appliqué worked and embroidered designs are found on the bed sheets made from Jaipur and Punjab.

Leather Goods: Very good quality leather products and accessories both for men and women at a very cheap price could be bought in the stores run by companies like Bata and Shree Leather. Leather products from Kanpur and Kolkata are also very famous.


Incense: Hand crafted incense sticks to suit your smell.

Sandalwood: You can buy pieces of sandalwood or decorative carvings of gods. Not only they smell nice but will look nice.


Books: The people in India are very fond of reading. It may be due to curiosity of knowing the world around or just joy of reading. Consequently, the publishers like to publish books on any popular subjects. Thus, books are quite cheaper in India when compared to other countries. It would be wisdom on the part of the tourists to try their hands in the book stores in India. There is possibility that one may get a book or novel at really competitive price.  

Bollywood DVD’s: If one has penchant for Bollywood masala movies, India is the place to buy those CDs, VCDs and DVDs. The DVDs of classical movies of Indian film industry are worth collecting

Indian Chessboard: Quality chess boards made of plastics, card boards or wood are available in Indian markets. If one has interest in the game, make sure to buy at low cost in India.


Bansuri: or simply flute is made up of hollow bamboo shaft. There are number of holes to bring variation in the quality of sound. Indian craftsmen make variety of flutes in all sizes and decorate them with attractive colors. One can use it as decorative piece in their homes.

Tabla: Tablas are pair of palm-stroke drums. They are inseparable part of Indian music specially traditional and classical. Many people hang the drum on the walls which give a very traditional look to their drawing rooms.

Indian Music DVD’s: Classical, ghazals, sufi music, meditationaI music and religious instrumental DVDs could be bought from the Indian market. They are music to suit all the occasions specially during relaxation.

Ankle Bells, Anklets Known as “Payals or Ghungroo”: Anklets are unique to Indian women who decorate their feet too with ornaments. Payals are not only made of semi-precious metals but also designed beautifully to make the feet look elegant. To add its beauty, small bells are incorporated in the design which sound during walks. On the other hand ghungroos are bigger bells stitched to piece of cloth which are wrapped around the ankle. Ghungroos are essential part of some of Indian classical dance forms.


Rare Indian Coins: Coins reflect history of a place. The rich tradition of history in India could be traced back to thousands of year. Almost every king of every dynasty used to mint coins in their own name. These coins are not available in the market but of course the coins minted during the British period and pre-independence period could be found in many households and shops dealing in the antiques. Keeping these coins creates a sense of being part of history of the place

Antiques: Every Indian city has its history and there are number of historical objects related to them. These objects may be in the form of statues, figurines, utensils, armory, watches, paintings, coins, jewelery etc. These antiques are available almost everywhere specially the historical places of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Luckhnow, Hyderabad, Shimla, Patna etc. One can bargain the prices of these antiques and buy them if the right deal is struck.

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