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