Souvenirs from India: what to buy

September 18, 2019

What gifts should you buy in India? Where can you find the best artisanal souvenirs that you can bring home with you, or give to your family and friends?

Traditional shoes and cloth from India

What to buy in India? Where to find the best typical handicrafts to bring home with you or to give to friends and family?

Here is a quick and easy guide on the best handmade souvenirs from India and where to buy them.

Detail of a henna tattoo on an Indian woman
Indian women in traditional sari

Minakari jewellery in Jaipur

Typical of the Mughal tradition, Minakari jewellery developed in India in the 16th century, thanks to the skilled goldsmiths of the court. Combining the working techniques used for gems and the manufacturing of gold by enameling, they invented a refined and elegant jewellery.

While walking down the streets of Jaipur, you will certainly find stalls and markets sending these handmade jewels, a tradition dating back centuries.

Razai quilts

Probably of Persian origin, razai quilts are another handmade product typical of India. The Indian razai are made by hand in cotton and refined silk, the maximum expression of Indian craftsmanship. They have beautiful embroidery and elaborate patterns, making them really gracious.

The artisans producing them tend to use natural dyes, faithful to the long standing tradition.

Zardozi embroidery

The term Zardoziindicates the precious golden embroidery, enriched by pearls and gems, typical of the ancient Mughal tradition, whose spead reached its zenith under Akbar emperor. These decorations, once only used by nobles and royals, embellished clothes, drapery, curtains and decorations for elephants and horses.

Zardozi embroidery is made by an elaborate needle working process: still today you can buy clothes and traditional fabrics with this beautiful ornaments.

Detail of beautiful Sari in red and gold
A winter Sari

Naga shawls

Nagaland is the smallest state in India, located in the northeast of the country. It is also one of the most striking and characteristic states, often neglected by tourist itineraries. This land of hills, rising from the Brahmaputra valley, is dotted with evergreen forests, crossed by rivers. The population is organized almost exclusively in tribal communities, divided into about 16 different tribes, each with its traditions and typical markets.

A characteristic that strikes visitors is the tribal and flamboyant clothing of the natives of Nagaland, in particular the war shawls or Naga shawls are famous. These typical shawls are decorated with stripes and squares, with different designs and patterns for each tribe.

Tara Books in Chennai

If your itinerary passes through Chennai, do not forget to stop by at Tara Books, the world's largest artisan book store. This publishing house produces illustrated books of the highest quality, where narration borders on art.

Tribal artists experiment with a great variety of different designs and decorations for the realization of these books, so much so that Tara Books has been rewarded with many awards. A truly original gift for every book lover.

Chettinad kottans

The kottans are traditional colorful baskets made of borass palm traditionally hand-woven by Chettinad women, who once produced them in their free time from other activities, to be used during ceremonies and rituals.

Today they are also found in metal and plastic, but the most beautiful are those made by hand, according to the ancient method: these are the ones we recommend you buy.

Hyderabad brocades

Hyderabad is famous for its handmade brocades, of ancient Persian derivation, made in small shops. Not only in the city and its suburbs,those who have time and want to deepen this custom, can also drive to rural communities outside the city, where this tradition is still very much alive.

In particular, in the village of weavers of Puttapaka, you can buy ikat made with double weaving. Puttapaka ikats are characterized by their geometric designs in red, black and white.