Memos from Asia

11 Popular Souvenirs to Buy on Your Next Trip to India

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India is a vast nation with distinct art forms, music, dance, and traditions.

This diversity in its culture leads to India having a unique set of products that highlight local craftsmanship while adding to the overall charm of the country.

With so many souvenirs available, it can be a little confusing at times to pick the right one for your family, friends, or yourself.

The best way is to buy something local to the region you are traveling in, while also picking up a few souvenirs you can find in most parts of India.

Saree

There are several regional clothes available to buy in India, each one as colorful as the next and distinct in style and the textiles used.

Sarees are particularly popular with different states having exclusive prints and cloth lengths ranging from 4.5 to 9 meters.

Some of the preferred saree styles are Banarasi, Bandhani, Kalamkari, Patola, and Assam silk.

Wearing a saree can be a little tricky the first few times, so make sure you learn how to tie one up when you buy it.

Indian female models at Ambrai Ghat in front of Old City Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Hindu girls with traditional Indian dress and sari with red and gold ornaments.

Tea

Tea, known locally as chai, is India’s favorite drink, and you can find tea stalls in all corners of the country.

Darjeeling and Assam teas are the two most influential exports from India.

Known the world over, they are available in Indian shops and airports in decorative boxes, perfect for gifting.

The latest trend in India is drinking organic green tea, and one can buy different flavors for the same, from pomegranate and tulsi ginger to masala chai and jasmine.

Paintings

Madhubani paintings are unique to India and make for a great souvenir to hang on your walls back home.

These paintings are lively and made using natural dyes as well as different instruments such as pens, brushes, matchsticks, and fingers.

The subject matter of the Madhubani paintings is typically traditional or religious, but you can also find many that feature geometrical shapes that are equally eye-catching

Jewelry

India has some of the best artisans in the world, especially when it comes to jewelry designing.

You will find shops selling gold and diamond jewelry in most big cities, although one must always buy from a known source to make sure the materials are genuine.

Silver jewelry, in the form of earrings, pendants, and rings, is equally popular and worn by locals in their day to day lives as a fashion statement.

For those looking at budget souvenirs from India, colorful costume jewelry in intricate designs is available in smaller shops.

Blue Pottery

The city of Jaipur in Rajasthan is famous for its architecture and history, but also for manufacturing handmade blue pottery.

A beautiful souvenir, you can use blue pottery items in your own home for decoration or as functional utensils.

Blue pottery is made using quartz stone powder, and while the base is blue, the designs on top are in different styles, motifs, and colors.

(Photo Credit: Fanusta, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Pickles

Indian pickle is unlike the pickles one finds in the western world.

Made using edible oils, it consists of fruits and vegetables preserved in a mixture with loads of different spices.

Hot, sweet, and sour, pickles come in airtight containers so you can easily take them home safely.

Some of the commonly loved pickles are mango, lime, tenti dehla, and stuffed red chilies.

(Photo Credit: Smritiraj25, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Incense Sticks

When in India you will find incense burning everywhere, especially in the morning, and at religious sites.

Incense sticks with refreshing aromas can be a wonderful reminder of your time in the country and thus are perfect souvenirs to buy from India.

Although you can purchase individual packs of incense, shops also sell exclusive gift sets that came with little stick holders.

When buying incense, opt for the smoke-free organic versions and go with Indian aromas like sandalwood, rose, lavender, and patchouli.

Incense stick and aromatherapy whit petals

Carpets and Shawls

Two souvenirs worth all the money you can spend are Indian carpets and shawls, both of which are primarily from the state of Kashmir.

Kashmiri carpets are handmade using silk or wool, with the ones having a higher knot count per square inch costing significantly more.

Silk carpets are the most expensive, but if budget is an issue, you can select a wool and silk mixture.

Similarly, pashmina shawls or stoles are a fashionable souvenir made with a special kind of soft wool with intricate embroidery done on top by hand.

Like the carpets, a real pashmina shawl can be expensive but is a souvenir that will be appreciated by many generations in your family.

Leh , Ladakh region , India – August 20, 2016: Old Ladakhi people couple carpet sellers sitting on the street in Leh, India

Brass handicrafts

Brass articles are commonly used across India in everyday life, primarily for religious purposes.

An alloy lighter than bronze, there are several brass souvenirs at varying prices that one can take home from India.

Idols of gods, traditional oil-burning lamps, pen holders, decorative pieces, dinner sets, and door knockers, there is a wide variety of brass objects from which to choose.

Marble inlay

As one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra is famous for its exquisite marble inlay work.

Travelers visiting Agra will find many shops selling smaller and more pocket-friendly souvenirs made of marble.

From tabletops and chess games to small boxes and miniatures of the Taj, there is plenty to pick based on your liking and budget.

The inlay work typically has flower motifs, and some also have colored semi-precious stones, which can increase the overall price of the souvenir.

Detailed view on Taj Mahal exterior

Wine

Unknown to many travelers, India has slowly risen in the world of wine over the last decade.

While the production is limited to a few places, Nashik is famously known as the “wine capital of India.”

Taking a few bottles of Grover Zampa La Reserve, Sula Rasa, or The Source, is bound to make your dinners back home all the more special.

Jaisalmer, India – December 6, 2019: People standing at the counter of a liquor store.

The most exciting aspect of buying souvenirs in India is that you get to bargain on the prices.

Moreover, it is best to pick up local handicrafts directly from the artisans as it helps support their livelihood, and you can get a better deal in the end.

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