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Shopping Delight

India's Shopping Delights

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 Purse.

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 motifs.

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 tourist.

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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