India offers a variety of goods - that suit every
taste and purse.
One of the most exciting parts of an Indian holiday is the innumerable
shopping opportunity available. From great bargain shopping
to precious gems, textiles, paintings, carpet, India offers
some excellent buys as souvenirs. Be it the semi-precious stones
of Rajasthan, silk fabrics of Karnataka or the paper machie
articles of Kashmir, there are things to suit every taste and
There are many arts that India excels in. Jewellery is an integral
part of the wealth of most Indian women. Gold jewellery is more
popular in South India, where the art of gold filigree work
has achieved a high degree of excellence. In Rajasthan, and
in north India, chunky silver jewellery is preferred, rather
than delicate gold. Gems and semiprecious stones are also used,
and each stone is generally supposed to have a benign or malignant
effect upon the wearer. Hyderabad is famous for pearls, other
gems and silver filigree work.
Apart from gold and silver jewellery, metal work includes copper
and brass items, like bowls, pots and pans, ashtrays, candleholders
etc. Bidri work, native to Andhra Pradesh, is the craft of gunmetal
inlaid with silver. Bronze casting, to make figurines commonly
used in worship, is another art widely practiced in India. The
metals used in metal work may be expensive, but the skill and
patience required of the craftsman is what gives these creations
their intrinsic value.
Another art that calls for skill and patience is the art of
carpet weaving. India produces and exports probably as many
carpets as Iran does, of virtually equal quality. In India the
center for carpet weaving is Kashmir. The technique of carpet
weaving was imported into Kashmir from Persia, prior to the
Mughal era, and the carpets, even today, have markedly Persian
|| Kashmir is also famous for the art of embroidery.
Delicate embroidery on woolen cloth forms the basis of much
of their winter-wear. Lovely woolen shawls and stoles, in a
whole range of prices, also make for interesting shopping.
Textile is an enormous industry in India. A vast amount of Indian
textile is hand-woven in Indian villages. The weaves themselves
are often works of art, such as the Ikkat and Patola weaves
of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Chikan work from Lucknow is a
type of delicate embroidery done on light fabrics like cotton
and organdie. South India is particularly famous for its excellent
heavy silks. Most often the fabric is made into sarees enriched
with woven gold thread. Bangalore is one of the centers for
heavy silk fabrics. In Chennai, the famous Kanjeevaram silk
sarees either in single colours, or in 'shot' colour, are often
embroidered with gold thread. Other centers for silk with zari-woven
gold threads are in Varanasi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar. In
the east, Calcutta supplies raw silk, called tussar, which has
a dull, subdued gleam. Rajasthan is famous for it's entirely
different kind of textiles. Typically Rajasthani and Gujarati
clothes are in bright colours with designs printed in dots called
bandhani. Mirror work on cloth is another art native to this
area and of particular appeal are the wide, flaring ankle-length
skirts made of this fabric
| Other handicrafts
in India include leather bags, jackets, brief cases, belts
and upholstery. Woodwork is another flourishing art. From
small sandalwood souvenirs to massive, heavy walnut-wood
chests, there is a range of wooden items available. Woodwork
is generally very intricately carved and quite expensive.
Jaipur in Rajasthan is famous for its 'blue' pottery.
There is also a flourishing market in earthenware, which
is skillfully glazed in a manner to give the impression
of burnished metal.
So the wide range of handicrafts-from metal work, to cloth,
to gems, to leather, to miniature paintings ensure that
India has souvenirs to suit the tastes and budget of every
So whether you are looking for quality goods like delicate
jewellery, or for small but exotic gifts for friends,
or for personal mementos of your visit, Indian markets
are certain to have more than you can buy.
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