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    From sarees to silk this India shopping guide covers it all

    Photo credit: Peter Rivera - flickr


    Shopping in India is a delightful experience. Leave aside the swanky malls of the big cities; the crowded markets in the forgotten streets of India are the best places to pick up curious and interesting knick knacks. What makes shopping here so fascinating is the fact that each region in the country has its own traditional craft which has been in practice for hundreds of years. From exquisitely carved stone work to magic woven in silk, you can find amazing products in the local markets in India. You may have to haggle like an old woman when it comes to the prices, but each piece of work is totally worth it!

    From the beautiful and fragrant sandalwood carvings of Karnataka to the mesmerising filigree work of Odisha, each product is the end result of excellent craftsmanship and fine detailing. Each region has its own marketplace where you can find these intriguing creations. So if the crowds of Indian markets have scared you, let this India shopping guide give you the information to take the crowds head on and help you in discovering the secret bounty of each region.

    Check out the most interesting places to shop in India:

    Rajasthan

    Pots pots pots

    Photo Credit : Mckay Savage - flickr

    The colourful state of Rajasthan is the first choice for travellers who want to shop for traditional handicraft items. From pottery to metalworks and jewellery to gemstones, Rajasthan has it all. Rajasthan has preserved its culture and tradition and showcased it before the world through its handicrafts and handlooms.

    [Discover the luxury and royalty of Rajasthan with our Royal Rajasthan Tour]

    Glass bangles

    Some of the main cities where shopping can be an exhilarating experience include Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, Kota, Shekhawati and Barmer. Each region or city in Rajasthan specialises in a certain product or offering that is unique.

    Jaipur

    Lac bangles

    Photo credit: Jennifer - flickr

    The Pink City of Jaipur is best known for its gem stones. From rubies to emeralds, the gemstones of Jaipur are exported all around the country and the world because of their high quality and clarity. Lac bangles are another important handicraft offering of Jaipur. The women of Rajasthan believe that wearing lac bangles is auspicious and hence these bangles can be found in a lot of colours.

    The most popular handicraft item of Jaipur is Minakari work. Minakari is the art of encrusting gem stones in gold. Minakari jewellery with gemstones such as rubies, emeralds and lapis lazuli are available in a number of designs in Jaipur. Jaipur is also an excellent place to shop for carpets. The carpets of Jaipur are recognised both within India and in foreign countries.

    Bikaner

    Bikaneri bhujiya

    Photo credit: Nagarjun Kandukuru - flickr

    Everybody knows about the Bikaneri bhujiya. Bikaneri bhujiya is a popular snack item and is relished by people all over the country. Bikaner is also famous for its camel skin and sheep wool products. You can also shop for beautiful carpets and woollen items in Bikaner.

    [Get to know Bikaner better with the tours and experiences that we offer!]

    Ajmer

    Shopping in India promises to cater to all. For instance, the leather work of Ajmer is known for its exquisite beauty and fine craftsmanship.

    Women shopping

    Photo credit: A Vahanvati - flickr

    The cities of Ajmer and Pushkar are the best places for shopping for items made of leather. The leather items are made through collaborative efforts of men and women of the community. While men cut, tan and stitch the leather, the women embellish it with beautiful embroidery.

    Jaisalmer

    Rag dolls in Rajasthan

    Photo credit: Nevil Zaveri - flickr

    The desert city of Jaisalmer is mostly known for its sandy desert safari and camels. However, there’s more to Jaisalmer than just sand dunes. The city of Jaisalmer offers exquisite mirror work articles, embroidered products, wooden artefacts, silver jewellery and other interesting items.

    [Explore the grandeur of the desert safaris in Northern India]

    Jodhpur

    Photo credit: Harsha KR - flickr

    The juttis of Jodhpur are famous all around the world. However you can also find good quality leather shoes, water bags, pouches and musical instruments in Jodhpur.

    [Explore and experience Jodphur from the selection of tours that we have]

    Kota

    Silk being weaved

    Photo credit: Simply CVR - flickr

    If you love collecting traditional sarees, Kota is the place to visit. Kota has several small stores throughout the city that sell doria sarees.

    They are popularly known by the name Kota Doria are characterised by square patterns known as khats which are woven into the body of the saree.

    Udaipur

    Elephant figurines

    Photo credit: snikrap - flickr

    The beautiful city of Udaipur is the best place to shop for tie and dye sarees, locally made toys, colourful turbans and hand painted fabrics.

    Karnataka

    Sari shop

    Photo credit: Girish Gopi - flickr

    The temples of Karnataka stand testimony to the importance of arts and crafts in the lives of the people there. Even today, the traditional techniques are used to prepare the arts and craft items in Karnataka. From Mysore silks to paintings, the artisans of Karnataka stand apart in terms of craftsmanship and skill and are featured in most India shopping guides. Furthermore, arts and crafts are given much importance in the lives of the people of Karnataka, so much so that several institutes have been set up in the state, which offer training and vocational courses in arts and crafts.

    [Feeling hungry? Enjoy a delicious food tour at VV Puram Food Street, Bangalore]

    Mysore and Udupi are the best places in Karnataka if you are fond of shopping in India for traditional handicraft items. Mysore is the centre of mulberry silk production in the state and is known for its beautiful Mysore silk sarees. Silk rearing in Mysore was introduced and encouraged by Tipu Sultan and ever since the city has been a leader in the manufacture of mulberry silk.

    You are bound to find a saree of your liking here

    Photo credit: Yohann Legrand - flickr

    Another important handicraft item of Karnataka is the Mysore painting. Mysore paintings are probably one of the oldest art forms that have been carried into the present generation. These paintings are characterised by their use of bright vegetable colours, dyes and gold leaves. There are several institutes in the state where the art of Mysore painting is taught to young students by renowned maestros.

    [Understand the mysore style of painting with our Mysore offbeat Style Painting Tour]

    Apart from these well-known craft items, you can also shop for beautiful metal and wood work items in Karnataka. Udupi and Mangalore are best known for their metal work items. Wood work, especially those made out of rosewood, is a special attraction of Karnataka.

    Uttar Pradesh

    Uttar Pradesh is a shopper’s paradise, particularly for those looking for items that reflect the culture and traditions of the beautiful state. From the exquisite Chikankari of Lucknow to the stunning metalworks of Moradabad, each and every region of Uttar Pradesh has something or the other to offer to an art lover.

    Spices of India

    Photo credit: Sara Marlowe - flickr

    [What better to know a city than on a bike? Cycle through Agra and get to know the city better!]

    Uttar Pradesh offers a wide range of items that are famous not just in India but all over the world. For the traveller who wants to capture the mystical spirit of India in its souvenirs, Uttar Pradesh is included in India shopping guides. Some of the best places in Uttar Pradesh are:

    Moradabad

    A Nataraj statue

    Photo credit: Michele Ahin - flickr

    Choose from a beautiful range of intricately carved metalware in Moradabad. The nakshi and khudai art work found in Moradabad attracts a lot of buyers in both domestic and international markets. The nakshi engraving is done directly on a tinned surface, while the khudai engraving is done using a steel pen on a lac coated tin surface.

    The best gift you can probably pick up for a dear one from Moradabad is the Nataraj statue. Other items that are available in metal in Moradabad include Ganesha statues, stools, trays, laughing Buddhas, and more.

    Firozabad

    Lac bangles

    Photo credit: Supratim Ghosh - flickr

    If you are fond of glass bangles, Firozabad will open up a kaleidoscope in myriad colours. Firozabad is synonymous with glassware and is recognised by the rows of shops selling glass bangles in different designs and colours. Other local products include Tikklu, which is a thin glass strip used by women to decorate their clothes, and the glass beads of Varanasi. Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh is known for the production of glass toys filled with a coloured liquid called Rachora.

    Khurja

    Photo credit: rajkumar1220 - flickr

    Indian pottery making has always been noted for its finesse and exterior designing. If you are looking for some good earthenware to decorate your house, you will love the pottery items at Khurja. Stunning designs in eye-catching colours are the specialty of Khurja. Other places in Uttar Pradesh such as Meerut and Hapur are famous for water containers called surahis which are available in different shapes and designs.

    Lucknow

    The chikankari work of Lucknow is famous all over the world. Beautiful floral patterns are woven on delicate tissue using thread to prepare sarees and dress materials which look simply out of this world. Materials such as cotton, organza, organdie, doruya, etc. are used as the base material on which the designs are made.

    Chikankari design

    Similarly, zardosi is a much sought after craft which is practised in Uttar Pradesh. The craft which was brought into India by the Turko-Afghan sultans of the 12th century involves weaving of beautiful patterns using gold and silk threads on delicate material. Today, Lucknow, Agra, Bareilly, Rampur, Varanasi and Farrukhabad are the best places to buy zardosi bridal outfits and salwar kameez sets.

    [Take a half day tour on bikes and explore the city of Agra]

    Other craft works that Uttar Pradesh is famous for include marble and soft stone craft and carpets. During a visit to Uttar Pradesh, you can find handicraft stalls selling miniatures of the Taj Mahal, Agra. You can rummage through the collection to find interesting knick knacks for decorating your home. If carpets are what you need, Bhadoi, Mirzapur and Shahjahanpur are the best places for shopping. You can find the best carpets, which stand second only to Arabian and Persian carpets, in these places.

    Goa

    Welcome to Goa

    Photo credit: Swaminathan - flickr

    The sun and sand of Goa is the main attraction for tourists to this beautiful place. However, if you have time to spare for shopping during your next visit to Goa, check out the stunning locally made items. They are not just great additions to your home decor, but are fantastic memorabilia too. From colourful masks to chandeliers and mirrors, there are several items that you could shop for.

    [Enjoy watersports and adrenaline pumping activities? Take an adventurous holiday in Goa!]

    You can find a number of pottery and terracotta, brass metalware, crochet and embroidery, bamboo craft, fibre craft, coconut mask carving and sea shell craft items in Goa. There are several markets in Goa where you can find many interesting things to take back home with you:

    Glastonbury Street

    Bangles on sale

    Photo Credit : Harshsa KR - flickr

    Hit the Glastonbury Street for all the funky accessories and clothes that you need. Find everything that is beaded, embroidered or mirrored on this street. You can find rows of stalls in this place and all the commodities that you need. All you need to have is money in your pockets and good bargaining skills to bag yourself a good deal.

    Golden Heart Emporium

    The Golden Heart Emporium is the best place to shop for book lovers. Take your pick from the choicest collection of non-fiction, fiction, children’s story books, autobiographies and more to fill the reader's heart with delight.

    Covered Market of Margaon

    This market is a must-see for every visitor in Goa. The covered market is one of the largest markets in Margao and offers all the commodities that you may need.

    Textiles for every taste and use

    Photo credit: Indi Samarajiva - flickr

    Maharashtra

    There are innumerable places in Maharashtra for shopping. From fancy Western clothes to traditional Kolhapuri chappals, you can find the best of products and designs in the streets and shops of Maharashtra. Kolhapuri chappals are a specialty of Maharashtra and a must-buy for those visiting the state.

    [Want to be up in the sky and fly like the birds? Take up an introductory paragliding course in Maharashtra!]

    Like all other states in the country, each region in Maharashtra has a special offering to make. Aurangabad is known for its beautiful Himroo weaving, which produces exquisite sarees, shawls, dress materials and bed linen. Some of the must-visit stopovers in Maharashtra as mentioned in numerous India shopping guides for shopaholics are:

    Colaba Causeway

    Textiles that suit every taste

    Photo Credit : Karan Patil

    The Colaba Causeway is the most popular shopping hot spot in Mumbai. Innumerable shops selling clothes, shoes, junk jewellery, antique items and other enticing ware, stretch for a long distance and vendors try to sell you everything from gigantic balloons to maps.

    If you have an eye for good quality items and the ability to bargain well, you can get yourself some very good deals.

    Crawford Market

    Stained glass pots

    Photo credit: Nicholas - wikicommons

    The Crawford Market is probably one of the oldest markets of Mumbai. Nestled in an old colonial building, the market offers fresh fruits, vegetables and pets of all breeds and origins. This is the place where most local people of Mumbai shop and you can get a glimpse of the daily lives of the people.

    Linking Road

    The Linking Road market is one of the hippest suburbs in Mumbai. You can will find traditional stalls selling apparel, shoes and street food along with branded outlets. If you intend to visit the market on a Sunday, be prepared for the crowds.

    If paintings interest you, you can check out Ajanta and Warli paintings. You can see the Ajanta paintings in the Ajanta caves, while the Warli paintings are made by tribals of the Thane district. The Warli paintings are usually prepared by the women of the tribal community using rice paste and straw in a distinctive style.

    West Bengal

    The handicraft items of West Bengal are known for their finesse and excellent craftsmanship and are recognised all around the world. The textile industry of West Bengal is very famous and so are the Dhokra art and Solapith art. Kolkata is best known for its terracotta items such as bowls, sculptures and figurines and wall art. The textile industry produces exquisite sarees such as the Baluchuri sarees, silk and tussar sarees and other beautiful varieties.

    The best places in West Bengal to shop for these sarees are Birbhum, Murshidabad, Hoogly, Bankura and Nadia. If you are looking for decorative items for your house, you can also consider buying masks which are a specialty of West Bengal. These masks are not just of decorative value, but also have mythological and cultural connotations.

    Shop in West Bengal

    Photo credit: Giridhar Appaji Nag Y - flickr

    Similarly, there are other handicraft items that will grab your interest. Rag dolls can be found in several stores across Kolkata. The practice of making rag dolls in West Bengal has a Japanese origin. These rag dolls, which are made of cotton, cloth and wool, are used to decorate homes or as toys for small children.

    Sholapith is another form of handicraft which is known for its aesthetic and cultural value. Sholapith is a plant whose leaves are used to prepare beautiful designs and these items are used during marriages and pujas. Other handicraft items that you can find in West Bengal include cane and bamboo handicraft and beautiful woodwork items.

    [Be blown away with breath taking views on a trek in Darjeeling]

    Kolkata, being the capital city of the state of West Bengal, has a number of shopping destinations that can offer you the best of traditional and contemporary items. Some of the best places this India shopping guide recommends for a satisfying shopping experience in Kolkata include:

    The Forum Mall

    The Forum Mall was the first mall of Kolkata. If you are brand conscious, this is the place to be as the mall houses almost all of the leading brands in its six floors. Furthermore, the mall has a bar, a movie hall and the famous restaurant called ‘Oh Calcutta!’

    Dakshinapan Shopping Centre

    This is an open air shopping alley that has a number of shops that offer Indian handicrafts and handlooms. An excellent place to buy cheap Indian clothing, the Dakshinapan Shopping Centre offers a collection of handicrafts and handloom from all over the country. The main attraction of the Dakshinapan Shopping Centre is the renowned Dolly’s Tea Shop, which has more than twenty different flavours of tea to choose from.

    New Market

    Also known as Hogg’s Market, the New Market is Kolkata’s oldest market. There are about tow thousand stalls in the market that sell everything from clothes to shoes to jewellery.

    A section of the market which has been reconstructed is the best place to visit for sarees.

    Bihar

    Photo credit: etrenard - flickr

    Bihar is known for its rich culture and heritage and places of religious importance. Being the place where Buddhism first flourished, the state has great religious significance. The festivals and religious events of Bihar greatly reflect the culture of the region and attract a lot of tourists from all over the world. For a shopping enthusiast, there are several offerings that Bihar has to make.

    Apart from the contemporary items that are available in shopping malls, the most attractive offering of Bihar is the traditional handicraft of the region. From Madhubani paintings to the bangle of Muzzafarpur, there are innumerable handicraft items in Bihar which are of great cultural and aesthetic value.

    Madhubani paintings

    Photo credit: Divya Vibha Sharma - flickr

    Madhubani paintings and Madhubani sarees are extremely popular in India and around the world. Madhubani paintings are mostly found in the Mithila region of Bihar and usually painted during auspicious occasions such as weddings and festivals. The paintings are usually based on themes such as marriage of gods and goddesses.

    Another important handicraft of Bihar is the Khatwa, which is a kind of appliqué work and is made by cutting one kind of fabric and stitching it onto another fabric. You can also shop for colourful Sujini quilts. These quilts are traditionally made using old clothes for the inner stuffing. The exteriors of the quilts are usually decorated with embroidery that depicts religious scenes or village scenes.

    Himachal Pradesh

    The state of Himachal Pradesh is known for its natural beauty and scenic splendour. Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas, the state of Himachal Pradesh offers ambling hills, picturesque landscapes covered in lush green vegetation, sparkling rivers, apple orchards and warm and hospitable people. Himachal Pradesh is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and attracts visitors from all over the country and the world.

    The amazing view of Himachal Pradesh

    Photo credit: Srinivasan G - flickr

    Besides being a place of immense beauty, Himachal Pradesh is also a great shopping destination. If you love shopping, do not miss out on the beautiful shawls and caps traditional to Himachal Pradesh, during your next visit to the state. Due to the presence of Tibetan refugees and monks in the region, you can also find traditional Tibetan rugs, meditation bowls and beads, prayer wheels, flags and silver jewellery in Himachal Pradesh.

    [Take a trek in Spiti together with a local homestay to get the most authentic experience of Himachal Pradesh]

    Shop for carpets

    Photo credit: Ajay Goyal - flickr

    If you are a lover of handicrafts, Himachal Pradesh is a great place to shop! The carpets, metalware, paintings, woodwork and shawls made in Himachal Pradesh are very popular all around the globe. Painting, chiselling, woodwork and weaving are a part of a Himachali’s life and hence you can find a large number of handicraft items in Himachal Pradesh. Usually, most women in Himachal Pradesh take part in painting while the men practise carpentry.

    [There is no other better way to explore Shimla and Manali than with us.]

    Due to the extremely cold weathers in Himachal Pradesh, weaving wool has become a common practice. Almost every household owns a pit loom. In Himachal Pradesh, you can find shawls of exquisite beauty and varying thickness. Pick anything between a fine Pashmina to a coarse Desar shawl. The caps of Himachal Pradesh are very popular too. These caps are made in a typical style and differ from region to region in Himachal Pradesh. You can also shop for woollen shawls, sarees and trousers in Kinnaur. Rampur chaddars are another important tourist attraction of Himachal Pradesh.

    Kashmir

    See anything to your liking

    Photo credit: Soumyadeep Paul - flickr

    Jammu and Kashmir is often referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’. The beautiful landscape of Kashmir has attracted tourists from all over the world since ages. However, due to terror attacks and political turmoil, the tourism industry of Kashmir has faced a major setback. But the situation has shown some improvement in the recent years with more and more domestic and international tourists visiting this beautiful state.

    Kashmir shawl

    Talking of shopping in Kashmir, everyone knows about the pashmina shawls of Kashmir. You can buy beautiful pashmina shawls from stores all across the state. If you are fond of handicrafts, you can pick up woodwork, papier mache and metal work items from Kashmir. There are a lot of things that you can shop for in Kashmir such as vintage maps, willow baskets and much more. You can get yourself a beautiful Namda, which is a traditional Kashmiri hand-woven carpet.

    You can check out the local markets for samovars and trays made of copper. You can find these items in the Old City, but it is advisable not to venture out alone and use a sturdy guide’s help to steer through crowds. If you are fond of ornaments, do not forget to get yourself some beautiful Kashmiri lac ornaments. You may have seen them in handicraft expos in your city, but do not refrain from buying authentic lac ornaments when you are in Kashmir.

    Sari textiles

    Photo credit: Soumyadeep Paul - flickr

    For food lovers, the Kashmiri chilli and Kashmiri zaffran are a must-take-home. Take the help of a certified guide to get yourself some real saffron. Kashmir is one of the few places in the world that grows saffron, the most delicate of spices. Ask your guide to take you to Pampore Fields, which is situated near Srinagar, where you can get some real saffron.

    There are a few things to remember while venturing out or going shopping in Kashmir. Remember these tips from our India shopping guide:

    • Stick to places which are more crowded if you are venturing out alone.
    • If you want to visit the Old City, do so only with the help of a certified guide.
    • Do not leave your hotel at odd hours without proper identification on you.

    Punjab

    Photo credit: opoponax - flickr

    The land of the hale and hearty Punjabis is known for its makke di roti and sarson da saag. Most people identify Punjab with its lush green fields of mustard and sugarcane and with the Bhangra dance. However, for a visitor to Punjab there is more than just these few characteristics. For the shopaholic, there are items of interest in Punjab.

    [Experience Punjab and the nature it offers on a trek through Triund]

    The traditional crafts of Punjab include woodwork, Phulkari work, mud work, pottery, folk toys, needle work, metal work, leather work and more. The most popular handicraft item of Punjab is the Phulkari work. You can also shop for beautiful jooties, dhurries, pindis and parandis. If you are looking for something to decorate your house with, you can choose from a whole range of mirror frames, dressing tables, sofa sets, chairs and dining tables. You can also get yourself a set of pretty Punjabi dolls dressed up in beautiful outfits.

    Of all the crafts of Punjab, the woodwork is the most popular. If you are one for traditional fashion garments, pick lovely salwar kameez sets with Phulkari embroidery. Phulkari embroidery is very delicate and the designs may vary from small to large stitches. The folk toys of Punjab have established themselves in both the domestic and international markets.

    Odisha

    Vases in Odisha

    Photo Credit : Nagarjun Kandukuru

    Odisha is the land of arts and crafts. From the beautiful appliqué work of Puri to the exquisite stone work in Bhubaneswar, there are a number of items that you can splurge on in Odisha. In Odisha, handicrafts and handloom are given much importance. This makes the state a sort of paradise for those interested in traditional arts and crafts.

    There are several stores in the capital city of Bhubaneswar where you can shop for beautiful handicraft items in stone and metal. Pattachitra or paintings made on palm leaves is a very popular form of art in Odisha. There is an entire village dedicated to handicrafts and handlooms near Puri. Raghunathpur, the handicraft village, is a very popular destination for tourists from all over the country and the world. The village is a must visit for those who want to learn more about the traditional arts of Odisha and, during a visit, you can also pick up some very beautiful items for your home.

    Pipli, near Bhubaneswar, is known for its appliqué items. The village can easily be identified by the colourful cloth lanterns and wall hangings hung outside shops that stretch out for kilometres together. Wall hangings, lanterns, swings, tablecloths and bedsheets in myriad colours and designs are put up on display for tourists.

    Sliverware

    Photo credit: Harsha KR - flickr

    Silver Ware and Filigree Work are a specialty of Odisha. Intricate designs made of fine silver thread are prepared or embellished on jewellery to make exquisite items. Cuttack, the former capital of the state, is the best place to buy silver ware or filigree items.

    While in the capital city Bhubaneswar, you can visit state run emporiums such as Boyanika or Amlan to buy beautiful stone work items, gem stones, metal ware or handloom items. Sambalpuri and Bomkai sarees are a must-buy during a visit to Odisha. These sarees have beautiful designs, often depicting the wheels of the Konark temple, and are usually made of soft cotton coloured in vegetable dyes.

    The Market Building or Unit IV market is one of the most popular markets of Bhubaneswar. You can pick up clothes, footwear, and imitation jewellery for low prices or just hang around watching the local shop for daily utilities. There are several malls too in the city if you are looking for something upmarket.

    Tamil Nadu

    Tamil Nadu

    Photo credit: Natesh Ramasamy - flickr

    The state of Tamil Nadu has a glorious historical and cultural heritage. It is best known as a pilgrimage destination because of the number of temples present in the state. From the Meenakshi Amman temple to Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu attracts hundreds and thousands of pilgrims from all over the country and the world throughout the year. Apart from its religious destinations, Tamil Nadu offers several possibilities for shopaholics. From Kanjeevaram sarees, Tanjore paintings and jewellery to pottery, stone carvings and musical instruments, the state has a lot to offer.

    [Join us bargain hunting as we go on a trail through the various bazaars in Chennai]

    For saree lovers, Tamil Nadu is the best place to buy precious Kanjeevaram sarees. You can find beautiful Kanjeevaram sarees in decent price ranges and in a whole range of colours and designs. Kanchipuram is the best place to buy Kanjeevaram sarees as you can save up to ten percent of the price here. However, you may also come across fake Kanjeevaram saris and hence it is important to keep a few tips in mind while splurging on one. Buy Kanjeevaram sarees only from registered cooperative societies. There are only twenty one cooperative societies in Tamil Nadu that are authorised to sell Kanjeevaram saris. Also, look for the special GI or Geographical Index tag on the sari before buying it.

    [Learn more about the art of jewellery making on a tour in Tamil Nadu]

    The paintings of Tanjore are also a must-see while in Tamil Nadu. These paintings are held in high regard due to their intricate designing and fine detail. A thin sheet of gold is used to colour the paintings along with other colours. You can also buy musical instruments from Thanjavur. Thanjavur is home to several famous musicians and is hence the best place to buy Veenas.

    Assam

    Tea picker in Assam

    Photo credit: Diganta Talukdar - flickr

    The seven sisters of North East are known for their natural grandeur and picturesque beauty and a great place for shopping in India. The state of Assam is best known for the Bihu dance, gorgeous traditional outfits and the delectable cuisine. However, very few know that Assam is a great shopping destination if you know just the right places to shop at.

    The Muga, Eri and Paat sarees are some of the most sought after sarees of Assam. These sarees are available in myriad colours and designs and can be bought from Silklay or Fancy Bazaar in Guwahati. They are available in a price range of Rs 2500 to Rs 30000.

    [Treat yourself to a relaxing and culturally rich holiday experience in Assam]

    Assam tea is famous all over the world for its aroma and taste. The best places to buy Assam tea during a visit to the state are the retail outlets situated near tea estates. You can also purchase bamboo items and handmade toys from local markets in Assam.


Shopping in India

Attractions

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Pangong Lake

Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.

The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.

Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above the sea level.

Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.

Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.

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Nubra Valley

Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.

Except the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the entre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.

Height: 3048 meters above the sea level

Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.

Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley

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Khardung La

Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.

The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.

Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.

Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.

Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.

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Tso Moriri Lake

It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve.  It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish. 

The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.

The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.

Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.

Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.

Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.

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Shanti Stupa

The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands holding its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding gives the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.

History

The stupa was constructed by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists. The construction was started in 1983, many Buddhists and Indian Government officials have supervised the procedures throughout.

Structure of the stupa

Among the two structures of the pagoda, the first level depicts the central relief of Dharmachakra which has deer on each side and the turning wheel of Dharma also has a golden image of Buddha at the center. The second level displays images which show the birth of Budhha and the death as well. In addition, both the level have smaller images of Buddha meditating. The stupa came into existence in order to spread the word of peace and harmony among people and it came into establishment as a commemoration of the valuable 2500 years of Buddhism.

Location: Any one can reach the stupa via road from Leh, only 5 kms from the town, a walk of fifteen minutes would require.

Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm

Highlights: The sunset and sunrise views from the stupa are inevitably beautiful


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Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.

 If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term. 

Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.

Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.

Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.

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Havelock Island

Being one of the topnotch attractions in Andaman is the sublime Havelock Island brimming with silky beaches and exuberant greenery. A lot of tourist locations, resorts, hotels, attractions and much more are creating the perfect background to Havelock Island to host as many tourists as possible. This is the largest of all the islands in Andaman and comprises of a lot of small islands. The administration in Havelock promotes eco-tourism on a large scale.

 The lighthouse established in 2005 at the northern part of the island gives additional recognition for the island. The accommodation options on Havelock will let you be surprised. Ranging from high-end, luxurious resorts to camps with basic amenities, the stay arrangements done by the administrative people here are unbelievable.

Highlights: The long stretches of different types of beaches are the main highlight to be pointed out. Declared the best beaches in the world, almost all of them are blissfully located on Havelock Island, connected to closely to the main boat jetty on the island.  

Elephant Beach, Radhanagar Beach, Vijaynagar Beach, Kalapathar Beach which are known in numbers also are proclaimed to have the highest number of tourists every year. The green fringed shorelines, the clear sea water, the colourful marine animals, the long coral reefs, the wild fauna and flora bring forth the astounding picture of Havelock incomparably beautiful.

Activities: Snorkeling and diving are the favourite activities done on the islands though other major water based activities like boating and kayaking are frequently done.

Distance from Port Blair: Havelock Island is lying 42 kms northeast of the capital city, Port Blair. There are regular boat services by the Directorate of Shipping Services which connect Phoenix Bay jetty in Port Blair to Havelock daily.

 

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Chidiya Tapu

As the name suggests, Chidiya Tapu is the perfect haven for unseen migratory birds and common native birds found in Andaman Islands. Recognized as the most enchanting beach in Andaman and tourists arrive here on a large scale as the beach extends the best ever sights for them including the eye catching sunrise and sunset views. This is a silent yet crowded beach encircled by evergreen forests on one side and the short hills on the other side. 

As it is considered to be the presenter of the most finishing touch of sunset and sunrise views, it is the main hub in Andaman Islands. The beach is filled with 46 varieties of endangered species of birds, and white spotted deer. There are a lot of seasonal orchids and other varieties of plants.

Highlights: The major attractions of Chidiya Tapu are the Chidiya Tapu Biological Park, the Sylvan Sands, the Munda Pahar Beaches etc. You will be able to stay at a forest guesthouse located nearby atop a hillock and from there, the panoramic view of Chidiya Tapu in detail.

Activities: Apart from sunset and sunrise views, people come in plenty toward this beach to identify the rare species appear in multiple colours and size. Even though many of the birds are commonly found on the beach, you would find it as a unique and unnatural scene to find the colourful gathering of them. Boating is an attractive activity done here as well as snorkeling and swimming are also a part of the adventure activities usually experienced by those who visit here.

Distance from Port Blair: It is located about 25 kms from Port Blair.


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Neil Island

A tiny island located to the south of Andaman is Neil Island, brimming with less explore marine diversity, coral reefs, long beaches and bewitching greenery. Being one of the tourist destinations in Andaman, Neil is so happy to become the host with revealing all what it has. A romantically silent island unlike the hustle of Havelock Island, Neil Island is termed as the vegetable bowl of Andaman. A perfect place to simply relax and chill is the beaches here and the deserted shores are favourite to those who love to relax in utmost peace.

In two hours, one can explore the island by walking around. It got the name Neil after the British Brigadier General James Neill who stubbornly dealt with the rebels during the 1857 Mutiny. The rich cultivation of paddy is found in Neil Island that belongs to the Ritchies’ Arhcipelago between Havelock Island and Rose Island.

Highlights: One of the major highlights of Neil Island is Neil Kendra, a beautiful curving bay full of white sand and holding the major jetty of the island made attracting by disarraying numerous colourful wooden fishing boats. Known to be the heart of the island, Neil Kendra has Bharatpur Beach on its left and Laxmanpur Beach on the right. The richest collection of marine lives and coral reefs have given Neil Island the peculiarity of being one of the most thrilling scuba diving sites on the island. In addition to diving, Neil Island is home to those who love snorkeling, swimming, birding, cycling etc.

Activities: Glass bottom ride and snorkelling are the major activities available on Neil Island though there are enough opportunities to do diving and other prime adventure activities.

Distance from Port Blair: The island belongs to the South Andaman district is located about 36 km northeast from Port Blair.

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Radhanagar Beach

Radhanagar Beach in Andaman has ranked 8th among the top ten beautiful beaches in the world based on travelers reviews and rating available on multiple sources and Radhanagar Beach deserves it for many reasons. One of the most ravishing beauty in Andaman with a lot of tourists visiting it every year, Radhanagar Beach is the gem of Havelock Island. 500 meters away from the beach, one can see only the expansive blue water and the lush green tropical forests but when you reach the beach, the sights are apparently awe-inspiring.

 Radhanagar is commonly called as Beach No.7 and this is one of the closest beach located near to Havelock Island ferry tier. The silky beach is kids friendly as well so that families are found in plenty on the beach to spend their vacation or a short holiday. There are nothing to be worried as the coast guards are roaming around always and the number of people here will be a pleasant sight to see.

Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, boating, parasailing etc are some of the most commonly seen activities on the beach and among them Scuba Diving is the best as it offers the clear interaction with the wide range of marine animals and coral reefs around living in harmony. 

The turquoise water gives a rejuvenating experience while you swim across or do snorkeling and since the number of tourists are relatively higher, the Government opens more opportunities for them to spend an ample time on the beach. As it is a superb place adventure lovers also would covet, the fame it has achieved international importance in no time.

Distance from Port Blair: From Port Blair it will take more than three hours to reach Radhanagar Beach as it is located about 72 kms away from the capital city.

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Baratang Island

One of the aboriginal tribes of Andaman lives in Baratang Island, a highly blessed region with years-old wilderness. Earlier, the tribes did not let outside people to enter their community but presently, Baratang Island is a vibrant tourist destination as people love to spend time amidst the huge forests, limestone caves, mangrove ranges and the mud volcanoes.

Baratang is a part of the Great Andaman Chain with an area of 243 sq.kilometers and that marks it as the main island of the group. Middle Andaman is lying to the north and South Andaman in the south of Baratang Island. And it belongs to Rangat Taluk.

Highlights: The active mud volcanoes are the highlights of Baratang Island along with the abundant mangrove forests and evergreen rainforests and the limestone caves located beyond the forests. So adventure lovers find Baratang as a wise choice to indulge in mind blowing trekking and nature walk. Among the multiple number of mud volcanoes, jalki, as the locals call it, is the famous one.

Activity: Nature walk through the wild forests and the extensive mangrove forests is one of the prime activities done on Baratang Island. Boating, trekking, hiking etc are some of the other, identified activities available on the island.

Distance from Port Blair: The island is located about 150 kms north of Port Blair and one can reach the island by ferry services only.


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Elephant Beach

Settled on the sands of Havelock Island, Elephant Beach is a reveling beauty well presented by the long coral reefs and the shining shoreline. A peaceful beach with pure serenity and silent ambience will offer the visitors a soothing melody and that would be the perfect time to relax, to walk around with your love or just to do sunbathing. Among the different beach on Havelock Island, Elephant Beach has a special significance because of its friendly atmosphere and not so crowded shoreline. In addition to the adventurous activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, tourists find time to do boating and similar activities on the beach. The clear water, the calm waves, the cool breeze and the magnificent sights on the shore have their own impacts on the number of people visiting the beach, and it increases only year by year.

Highlights: The long array of private boats, fishing boats and buoys extend a riveting beauty to the beach. Moreover, it is a kid friendly beach as well so that families are found here aplenty. The huge shoreline is the key factor behind the countless visitors appear on the beach every day. 

During monsoon also, tourists would love to come to Elephant Beach. People have reported that at times, the wild elephants from the nearby forests come to the beach and stroll along the white sandy bed.

Activities: An ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving is Elephant Beach though boating and other fun, water based activities are also done by the visitors often. Tourists have experienced the best sea walking as well on Elephant Beach.

Distance from Port Blair: Elephant Beach is located on the famous Havelock Island. It is lying about 69 kms away from the capital city of Andaman, Port Blair. One can reach the beach via boat from Havelock jetty after reaching there from Port Blair by road or by boat.


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Diglipur

A marvelous town in the north part of Andaman Islands is Diglipur, an amicable tiny town with a lot of good people around. For eco- friendly tourists, this town is an inevitable choice. Though the marine life is the prominent feature of this town but the cultivation of orange and rice has enormous importance in the economy of Diglipur.

Highlights: Lamiya Bay Beach is a highlight of the town, it is located a few kilometers away from Kalipur Beach. The beach is lying in the foothills of Saddle peak, the highest one in Andaman. Around 20 kms from Diglipur is the green Shyamnagar covered by thick jungles and why Shyamnagar is a priority for tourists is because of the presence of mud volcanoes here. Kalipur Beach and Ramangar Beach are the other famous beaches at Diglipur and they are famous for turtle nesting. Moreover, visitors are quite eager to visit Alfred Caves as well where a huge collections of limestone structures are found.

Activities: Since there are plenty of beaches, caves, greenery etc, Diglipur offers the visitors a huge number of activities ranging from refreshing trekking through the jungles to the water based activities like island hopping, snorkeling, boating, fishing etc. Near to Diglipur there are famous spots to do multiple activities.

Distance from Port Blair: Lying 290 kms away from Port Blair, the small town of Diglipur that can be connected by boat from both Port Blair and Mayabunder. The boat services from Port Blair are available twice a week. But one can reach the town by road via ATR from Port Blair.

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Vijaynagar Beach

Known as Beach No.5 is Vijaynagar Beach in the north east part of Havelock Island. Very remote from the crowded locations on Havelock Island, Vijaynagar Beach is close to heart for those who love to spend time in utmost calmness. The regular touch of the sapphire blue water on the pearl like sandy beach makes no noise and it is one of the reasons why tourists chosen it as the perfect space for romantic couples and families. 

The beauty of the beach has been praised so much by those who visited it. It is always better to come here freely, just to roam around, or to float on the shallow water, or to read under the large shade given by the huge trees on the shore or to do sunbathing. The collection of Mahua trees and palms is the significant ornament making the beach a splendid place to sit back and relax as much as time one wants to. This is one of the magnificent attractions in Andaman.

Highlights: A photographer's paradise is Vijaynagar Beach; especially the sunrise views from the beach is incomparably magnificent. When the sun’s fresh rays spread all over the wide sea, the entire atmosphere starts blushing in all possible colours and there is no better sight from the beach would satiate a photographic mind. The native birds appear during the fresh mornings add effective colours to the sunrise pictures.

Activity: The beach is recognized for relaxed swimming and sunbathing. Adventure activities are not yet a fashion on this inevitable part of Havelock Island.

Distance from Port Blair: Vijaynagar Beach is located at a distance of about 38 kms from Port Blair but from Havelock jetty the beach is lying 9 kms away only.

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Chadar Trek

For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level. 

The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long. 

A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.

Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.

Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.

Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.

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Markha Valley Trek

Adventure lovers always had an affection to Markha Valley and still it fulfills the dreams of a trekker or adventure seeker with the unrivalled collection of natural spectacle. Long day trekking tours are offered by a lot of tour providers all over India which promise a journey through the most scenic locations and villages. The awesomely exciting feature of this trek is that it will let the trekker cross two high altitude passes in Ladakh; Gandala La at 4980 meters and Kongmaru La at 5276 meters.

 Being one of the diverse treks in Ladakh region, Markha Valley trek offers a lot of adventurous moments throughout. The barren land of Ladakh and the Buddhist temples found throughout the journey make the trek special. The route winds past the Ladakhi villages and it goes to Hemis National Park where the chances to spot some rare wildlife species are comparably high. The nomadic groups of people will be a unique picture to keep in heart. The symbols of Buddhism like ‘chortens’, stupas, multi colored prayer flags and numerous monasteries narrate the story of Buddhist culture embraced Markha centuries ago. Another interesting fact heard about Markha Valley trek is that it is also called ‘tea house trek’ due to the accommodation provided in parachute tents in most of the villages during the tour.

Maximum altitude: 15000 feet is the maximum altitude the trek will cover.

Location: In most of the cases, the trek starts from Leh. The trail usually goes through Chilling, Skyu and then to Markha. From Markha it would take the trekker to reach Hankar and Nimaling and finally return to Leh. The ideal trekking distance is 75 kms and it would be graded as difficult.

Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August, September and October are recommended as the best time to do Markha Valley trek.

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