What to buy in India?

India is a shopper’s paradise. India has one of the most dynamic retail industries in the entire world. For the shopaholic, it might be difficult in controlling the demon inside them.

When you visit India, there are a number of things you could buy to take home. However there are limitations of what you can actually take back home on your baggage allowance. Here is a compilation of the things that you could buy when you are in India at really cheap prices.

Remember that the currency in India is the Indian rupee coded INR which stands for “Indian National Rupee”. It is also called the “Rupaya or Rupya” in Hindi. The rupee is divided into 100 paisas.

"What to buy in India"
Indian handicrafts

Here’s a list of 51 things of what to buy in India when on holiday:

Clothes and cosmetics

1. Bangles: Almost every woman in India wears them. They come in basic day to day wear to very fashionable ones.

2. Sarees: You’ll find the best sarees in the world. The ones to go for Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu) silk sarees, they are of exception quality. A lady visiting India must buy a Kancheepuram silk saree for the wardrobe even if it’s worn occasionally. Read this on how to wear the saree.

"Saree shops in India"
Saree shops in India

3. Shawls: The best ones are embroidered Pashmina shawls made of quality cashmere wool derived from the pashmina goats of the Himalayas.

4. Vests: Indian men like to wear vests more than any country in the world. The popular vests are available from the “Rupa” brand.

5. Flip flops: Cheap and cheerful at throw away prices available on street stalls.

6. Jewellery: Precious stones, gems, sapphire, diamond, rubies: India is a nation of gold lovers (and diggers). We love our gold to death. You’ll find in India the best 24 carat gold jewellery in the world.

7. Henna Dye: Plant based henna dye are very popular in India for making decorations on palms. You might wish to buy some packets of powdered Henna Dye. They are extremely cheap.

"Henna dye"
Henna dye

8. Sandals: They are mainly worn during the summer. You will find durable sandals in “BATA shops”. Sandals from Kolhapur and Pune are very popular in India.

9. Salwar Kameez: Indian dresses worn by Indian girls and women. You’ll find good quality both in silk and cotton to suit your taste. You might want to buy a few for those parties back home.

10. Gamcha: A very thin towel used in the Indian villages. Very handy as it dries quickly and occupies little space in the luggage.

11. Kurta Pajama: You’ll find many Indian men wearing the tradition Kurta Pajama. They are very comfortable to wear and can be used as sleeping dresses.

Food

12. Loose Indian tea: India is big on tea. Unfortunately the teas found in many countries are of poor quality. Why not visit a departmental store and ask for the best Darjeeling loose tea leaves. Assam and Nilgiri teas are also excellent ones to buy.

13. Mango pickles: Some airlines do not permit pickles on board because of the oil content. You will need to check with your airlines if you can carry pickles in your luggage.

14. Indian sweets: If you have a sweet tooth, then the best thing is to try them while you are in India. If you like something then perhaps you can buy some to take home. Try to avoid ones with syrup. The dry types are best such as soan-papdi. Read the 10 food to try in India.

"Soan Papdi"
Indian sweet “Soan Papdi”

15. Saffron: Although you can get most Indian spices in any part of the world but you might wish to buy “saffron”. You should be able to buy high quality in saffron in any departmental store in India.

16. Bombay-mix and savouries: In India you will find the best Bombay-mix, you might want to consider getting a few packets of these to take home with you.

17. Indian cookbook: A proper Indian cookbook written by a genuine Indian chef such as the famous Sanjeev Kapoor.

18. Sattu: You will never find this in anywhere in the world. Grounded “sattu” is made of roasted gram flour consumed mainly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh region of India. Sattu makes exceedingly good stuffed parathas.

Health

19. Ayurvedic products: India is the home of Ayurvedic medicine. Great thing about these medications are that they have little or no side effects so ask around for a good Ayurvedic doctor from your guide, hotel or whoever you are staying with and get hold of some alternative medication for yourself or your loved ones. There is no harm in trying something different to standard medication.

20. Yoga DVD’s: Trust me, yoga works. Baba Ramdev, a popular Yoga Guru has popularised yoga to a great extent in India. He’s seems to have the cure for every single condition. Just look around. Two Yoga techniques in particular are very popular; Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom. Get their DVD’s.

21. Antibiotics: I don’t recommend you buying antibiotics or any medication without proper consultation. But if you know what you are buying then this is for you. India is one of these few countries where you can walk up to the counter and buy antibiotics without a prescription. That’s not to say you don’t need one, it’s just that the pharmacist will give you at their discretion.

22. Chyawanprash: Jam like tonic for the kids (and adults alike) full of vitality made with Ayurvedic traditions.

Chyawanprash
Chyawanprash

23. Haircut: The cheapest country in the world for a haircut. Men can get one at around 30 Rupees.

24. Amrutanjan: A very effective Ayurvedic balm for headaches, cold and cough.

25. Mosquito repellent: India is a country where malaria is prevalent, so mosquito repellents are cheap.

26. Lice treatment shampoo: Quite cheap in India. The chemist can tell you the good ones.

27. Prescription glasses: Good quality of international standard.

28. Condoms: Enough said.

29. Tongue cleaner or scraper: I have not seen this in any other country except India; it’s something that is very unique to India and other countries in the Indian sub-continent. You can buy tongue cleaners in a just a few rupees. A must buy and try.

30. Penegra: Indian version of Viagra manufactured by Zydus Alidac (India). It comes in 2 doses; 50mg and 100mg tablets.

For the home

31. Handicrafts and folk art: India has amazing handicrafts for offer. The whole nation seems to be buzzing with talented craftsmen. You will do a favour to these poor craftsmen and support the cottage industry. Some popular ones are; terracotta statuettes of West Bengal, amazing sandalwood carvings of Mysore, and carved metal craft wares of Madhya Pradesh, blue gazed pottery of Jaipur. You will find a range of sculpture and carvings to take home. Some places to buy handicrafts are Dilli Haat in Delhi, Kala Madhyam in Bangalore, Anokhi in Jaipur and Khazana at the Taj Hotels.

Dilli Haat, New Delhi

32. Madhubani paintings of Bihar: Madhubani is world famous for its colour paintings mainly of gods and goddesses.

33. Rugs: If your baggage allowance permits you, then you must buy the beautifully designed handmade oriental rugs made of pure wool or/and pure silk. A small one perhaps for the side of the bed to treat your feet.

34. Silk paintings: You can buy exquisite folk art and ethnic paintings made by artists from the villages of India.

35. Marble: You’ll be amazed at the throw away prices of marble in India. Buy yourself a marble mantle piece to go on the fireplace or a marble jewellery box.

36. Wood carvings: You’ll find excellent wood carvings for decorative purposes.

37. Washing power sachets: Cheaper than most countries.

38. Bed sheets: Hand crafted embroidered and brightly coloured designs on bed sheets are popular from Punjab.

39. Leather goods: For example; genuine hand stitched leather steering wheel cover at cheap prices. Genuine leather wallets for men can be bought at cheap prices.

"Handicraft shops in India"
Handicraft shops in India

Spiritual

40. Incense: Hand crafted incense sticks to suit your smell.

41. Sandalwood: You can buy pieces of sandalwood or decorative carvings of gods. Not only they smell nice but will look nice.

Entertainment

42. Books: Books are cheaper in India compared to Europe and the USA. While you are in India, make sure to visit a book store. If you can’t find the book of your choice ask the shopkeeper as they usually keep their books at the back of the store. So don’t feel ashamed to ask.

43. Bollywood DVD’s: Beware most of them are very long of about 2.5 to 3 hours long. But you’ll be surprised that some of the earlier movies were of exceptional quality. I suggest you buy some of following movies; Mother India (1957), Bobby (1973), Coolie (1983), Deewar (1975), Hare Rama,Hare Krishna (1971), Sholay (1975).

44. Indian chessboard: Chess was invented in India and here you will find quality chess boards.

45. Indian playing cards: You’ll find various varieties.

Music

46. Bansuri: An Indian musical instrument made of hollow shaft of bamboo with 7 holes. It’s something that will look good on the wall or on the fireplace.

Bansuri
Stephanie Bosch playing the Bansuri: stephaniebosch.com

47. Tabla: Tradition pair of drums that is an essential part of any Indian musical feat.

48. Indian music DVD’s: I suggest you buy some Indian classical music for relaxation.

49. Ankle bells, anklets known as “payals or ghungroo”: These are ornaments worn on the feet by Indian women. If you want to learn dancing these would be very useful.

Collectables

50. Rare Indian coins: You can buy rare coins of ancient India that will go up in value over time.

51. Antiques: Indians do not value antiques as much people do in the West. You can find great Indian antiques at good prices for example vintage pocket watches, ancient pottery, statues of gods, militaria and maritime collectables etc.

anklets
Pair of anklets

5 bargain tips for shopping in India

  • Don’t show your enthusiasm, pretend you are just looking
  • Make sure you haggle, ask the price and offer half of the quotation; work on it
  • Just take it easy as many stores have fixed prices, know when to haggle and when not to
  • Watch and observe how the Indians do it
  • Enjoy, just have fun

Back to Shalu Sharma tourism in India homepage

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94 thoughts on “What to buy in India?

  1. Hi Shalu…..
    This time you made happy to your female followers 🙂 (just kidding)….

    I can say one thing…either you have done a great research for the content of this article or you are a big lover of shopping…….

    You have cover each and every category that i can think about.

    Great job once again.
    Twitter:

  2. Hi Shalu,
    great stuff! You know what I always used to buy when I went to India? Turmeric, I wanted it to be quality authentic one. Tea, I am a tea addict and any traditional Indian tea is amazing. And lastly, balms, the tiger balm type of balm:)

    Mariella

  3. Hi Shalu,
    Very extensive and all-covering list. And hey I am from Manipur and I have lived at various places in India and I have to agree with you with all the points. I particularly like the way how books are sold. Old books and mags can be exchanged for another old books.

  4. Indian product are really good. I have plan to visit india to buy some handmade stuff. By the was there any site where i can buy handmade product from india? can they parcel it here in UK also?

  5. Shopping in India is so much fun! I bought more than I expected and had three large parcels shipped home. I enjoyed shopping in the large department stores where they sit you down, give you tea and bring things to you for your examination. India is a great place to shop.

  6. What an interesting share, I have a penchant for pashminas and kajal 🙂 It would be even more wonderful if I get to actually pick up these stuff in India. Thanks a lot!

  7. These all are the reasons, why people loves India so much. I am also a fan of Indian handicrafts and the artists. What i like most is the work they do. I will surely buy one metal elephant when i will go Jaipur. Thanks

  8. Very comprehensive and all-covering record. And hey I am from Manipur and I have resided at various locations in Indian and I have to consent with you with all the factors. I particularly like the way how guides are traded. Old guides and magazines can be traded for another old guides.Visit my site drug rehab

  9. India has a vast variety in their culture and food. As well as they have huge varieties of products, some of them are unique and highly demanded all around the world. Got some great knowledge here. Thanks Shalu.

  10. No matter what you are planning to buy. If you are buying it with the help of the online shopping portals then you should use the coupon codes to get the additional discounts. All the major online shopping portals issues the coupon codes to their customers.

  11. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 🙂
    Cheers!
    Twitter:

  12. There are lot of things there to buy in India mainly shopping is based on dressing and food resources. Foreginers are mainly attracted by Indian food. Even Womens are ready to buy Sarees in India

  13. Great tips! Just wanted to let you know that the US has tongue cleaners. I’ve seen them on shelves in stores for about 13 years now. Not sure about other countries because I never have looked. Helpful info thank you.

  14. Hello Shalu,

    As you mentioned India is certainly a shoppers paradise. Anything which you want to buy will be available in Indian shops. The tourists who come to India will get a brief idea from this post about Indian shopping place. I especially love Indian traditional sweets. It has unique taste.
    Twitter:

  15. In India huge online portals where you can buy your best products by just few mouse clicks on the web. You can also get discount on your specific order by using discount vouchers and deals.
    Twitter:

  16. The reasons which you have provided behind buying different stuff from India seems to be little biased as I have seen Indian shop-keepers always charges high amount for cheaper goods.Except jewellery in which Indian gold-smiths have great expertise and handicrafts industry mostly foreigners are cheated.

  17. India is a very beautiful country in its terrain, people and culture. This list is a necessity for anybody like me who want to fly and tour India soon! I particularly find sandalwood carvings, saffron and henna dye very very beautifully Hindu! But this resource has expanded my horizon a lot! Thank you!

  18. I think you have done a really nice job on this website and really appreciate the information you have provided. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your insights with the rest of us.

  19. Thanks to Rick Stein’s Indian cooking series, I am desperate to get to India and enjoy all the culinary delights. I also intend on purchasing artwork, pottery and other amazing items. India should be very proud it still has the ability to create amazing things with their imagination and hands – here in the West we have lost our imagination due to over-commercialism, and I have yet to meet anyone that can even sew a dress.

  20. India is a country of many religions, traditions and customs. it is the place of diversifications in mant fiels yet united. it is also the place that inspires fashion and many style trends. Cities like Mumbai, Banglore, Delhi etc. are the cities known for its particular style of fashion or you can say these are much happening fashion cities..!!!
    Twitter:

  21. Great list, but you might consider taking off tongue scrapers. They are widely available in other countries. Boots sells them! They even have their own brand.

  22. To buy some of the best 24 karat gold jewelry in the world in India. I am wondering how they care for this jewelry as 24 k is very soft and will miss shape with a little pressure. Especially a ring.
    Is yellow gold the most popular Is white gold even looked at as here in Canada it is becoming very popular.

  23. shalu,

    That’s a good list. You can also include pressure cooker in the list. It’s worth every penny if someone uses it regularly.

    I’ve created a similar list as well.

  24. Great research and amazing information to all who want to visit India. You cover most of all things that should be known by an Indian and even by a foreigner. Actually, I am quite aware with several of these options due to my several visits to Jaipur and other places of India. We are the rug retailer and we import @handmadeRajasthanrugs on a regular basis. This connects me to the art and culture of India and its contribution in the rug industry. Thanks Shalu for this post.

  25. Huge place for shopping
    Emporium of handicrafts textiles and jewellery
    In south delhi
    Contacts -: aman gupta
    9910887888

  26. Hey there…I am big fan of your blogs and of course of your post. I use to read each and every post and believe me it always help me so thank you so much for the post. Coming top this post, I think you have mention quite right things.

  27. I have an American Client(who I worked with a lot) who sells products on amazon. He buys products from overseas but through a middle man.He wanted to know the details of products which he could buy for low price in India and sell in Us to make high profit?What are the products which are cheaper in India than US?

  28. Really Nice Article, Elinenshop is a Exclusive online Store for T shirts,Casual Shirts, Bath Towels, Bath Robes, Kids Towels, Chota Bheem Towels, Pool Towels. Unbeatable price with no compromise on Quality from the Leaders of the industry from 45 years.
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  29. Awesome things you have shared, I was a bit confused, I have heard that 24 caret gold cannot be used to make jewellery because 24 caret gold is very soft and get melt with small heat.

  30. A great representation of a country which have several diversity in it.
    I have noted down the stuffs which i definitely buy on my next visit to India.A great resource which help to explore India in easier way
    Many thanks

  31. Nicely compiled list. I was told that some of our colleagues from abroad find that stitching a suit here is better. Some of the suit stitching tailor shops/units or whatever you call them even can courier it abroad.

  32. Hi Shalu nice tutorial you covered all the topics, In India many culture living together your research of shopping its good. Shopping is the best therapy for woman.jocks a part but nice information shared.
    Thank you

    Regards,

  33. Shalu ji, Thank you. ?

    If you can suggest some good sport stuff, some traditional Indian toys (kids) and Some of the Rajputana style souvenir i will be very much grateful.

  34. I was Googling for something that I could take as gifts for my Japan trip; and this list has been more than useful. You have some great ideas that we all know of but don’t think of.

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