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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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

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