20 Unique Souvenirs to buy in India | Solo Female Travel
Being a shopaholic has its perks. We are always looking for new things and have all the attention for wearing and having the most exquisite thing as compared to others. India is a home for cultural diversity and skilled labour. On your trip to India, travel and shop until you drop.
In this blog, I will share a list of the best souvenirs to buy in India and hotspots of shopping. As you travel across the country, you will find various versions and interpretations of the same thing depending upon the local culture. Every state of India has its speciality and also has a way of keeping its folklore and traditions alive.
Being in India is like being in a shopping paradise, and there is always something intriguing and interesting that you cannot have your hands off. Buying a souvenir can be a difficult task if you are unaware of what to buy. It might leave you with a hole in the pocket while buying an ordinary gift.
Souvenir-shopping in India is an experience in itself!
A person like me always puts a heart into the gift. I give someone a thing that has a story behind it, connected to that person, or is of their passion. My home has become a walk-in-museum with all the artefacts that I got from every country I travelled to in the last few years.
Honestly, I always loved collecting stamps, currency, and postcards from different states and countries since childhood. Little did I know how this habit will take me to places and feel the love. My heart goes out to these craftsmen and artists who put their soul into creating a perfect eye-catching piece without even being paid for its true value. Especially in India, labour wages are very less, so do not hesitate to pay for what it is worth.
Shopping from a local market or street always gets you cheap and indigenous products. But there are times you can get ripped off so badly. I’d say the Indian local vendors are the most intelligent people in reading the customers’ minds. So shopping for souvenirs in India requires you to master the art of bargaining. Also, read my guide How to Bargain Like a Local on Your Solo Trip to India.
Here are 20 unique souvenirs to buy in India –
1. Adorn the Pearls from Hyderabad
Does this remind you of your mother, who always has been adorning her outfits with the most appropriate jewellery? These pearl necklaces and earrings go with every dress you wear, adding a dash of elegance and royalty. Buying gemstones in India can involve scams, and you may also get ripped off if you are not careful. Bangles, Chokers, Rings, and Anklets are other jewellery pieces that you can look into depending upon your need. Be it Gold from Kerala, Meenakari from Jodhpur, or Kundan from Jaipur, all these jewellery variants will drop your jaw open. These ornaments are so intricate and make a timeless classic. However, I will recommend you to buy these from a licensed shop and always take the receipt of payment.
2. Madhubani painting from Bihar
We all have that one art lover friend whose world revolves around art galleries and exhibitions. Please do yourself a favour and buy a painting for them. Most of these paintings depict Indian mythology, nature, social events, and folktales. These creations are so surreal sometimes that you cannot leave the place without getting one. Mostly, the painters use recycled papers as their base canvas, and when you travel further East in Calcutta, you will find these paintings embossed on a piece of fabric and gold foil as a base in the South.
Don’t forget to check out the Warli painting (tribal art) from tribal people if you’re travelling in Maharashtra. Tanjore paintings from Tamil Nadu are also worth buying as well. These depict the royal courtroom scene of the South rulers of the bygone era. Sure, these statement pieces are expensive, but they are worth spending the money on and making efforts to install them.
3. Buy Terracotta from Chhatisgarh
A homemaker or an ardent lover of nature will appreciate the gift of pottery. They can be tricky to carry back home on the flight, but pack them well in bubble wrap, and you are good to gift a souvenir that your friends will remember you for. I have always wanted to learn pottery and terracotta since I find it so beautiful how people make decorative pieces from raw soil. We all know that the life of sculptures comes alive through its sculptor. Terracotta from Chhatisgarh is an ideal gift for a friend who is into figurines. These come in various shapes inspired by wildlife, nature, and everyday objects. Even though Chattisgarh is not a popular travel destination, if you find similar pottery at Delhi Haat in New Delhi, go ahead and buy it.
4. Be amazed at Kathakali masks from Kerala.
I love to say that when you are in India, behave like an Indian. A lot of you may not know what this is. Kathakali masks are bright coloured masks worn by dancers during a popular festival in Kerala. These masks are of prime importance during the dance as they convey their facial expressions through it.
Someone who is a history lover or is into cultural dance forms will surely love having this as a souvenir gift. Read my guide, My Ultimate Travel Guide to Kerala.
5. Fragrance, scents, and more
I am particularly addicted to mystic perfumes and scents. And I think it is easy to connect to people with their unique fragrance. As much as taste in perfumes varies from person to person, it is still one of the best souvenirs to gift a friend who religiously refills the bottle of scent frequently. If you are ready to splurge on a perfume, it sure is the best-buy! You can find these lovely doses of love in Agra. They come in little fancy glass bottles with longer shelf life. In India, it is known as Ittar. I will recommend you to buy it in the fragrance of Kewra. You can also read my guide, My Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
6. Ayurvedic products
Being in the land of Ayurveda and Yoga, it is a sin not to buy its products! For a spiritually inclined person or someone who is into health, wellness, lifestyle, and beauty, ayurvedic products will turn out to be perfect gifts. So don’t forget to grab one while you’re travelling in Kerala and Goa. Make sure to check the Google reviews before you choose a reliable shop.
7. Adding spice to life
Spices in India are to die for! As much as the locals use several kinds of spices to prepare the food, it equally makes a perfect souvenir for the foodie back home. These spices work like a genie, adding life and flavour to any cuisine. You can buy them in Rajasthan, Kerala, and Kashmir.
8. Cane products from Assam
Easy to carry, too great for display are these cane baskets, pen stands, and bags. These products are popular in East India and display a great spirit of craftsmanship. They are unique, durable, water-resistant, and light in weight. If you are a fan of Etsy, you are going to love these souvenirs even more! Indeed, a great gift for someone who loves fashion. You can buy kauna grass products in Manipur for a great deal.
9. Range of footwear from Mojjaris, Kohlapuris to Jutis
You should buy these for yourself. Made from thick buffalo leather, these Mojaris decorate the local markets in Rajasthan. They are comfortable and skin-friendly. In Punjab, you can find them as Jutis. On the other hand, kolhapuri chappals found in Maharashtra are an exclusive Indian speciality that you MUST buy in Mumbai. Complete your Indian look by pairing them with the perfect footwear. You can also rock this style by pairing them with dresses in your country.
10. Handloom carpets
In the land of mountains, find the perfect bright coloured carpets. These make a great souvenir gift for an older adult, and they also add that charm to a home. You can find these carpets in Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh. The traditional prints and colours on handloom carpets symbolise wealth and royalty. However, make sure to check the quality and durability before buying one. The best part is that these carpets are easy to carry on the flight.
11. Pashmina Shawl and Kullu caps
Found in North India, don’t forget to buy these colourful and warm shawls during your trip to Himachal Pradesh or Ladakh. These shawls are expensive because of their quality of wool. Surprisingly, they are both comfortable and fashionable.
12. Dhokra brasswork
Found in Calcutta and Jharkhand, these brass sculptures are a perfect addition to your showcase or mantle. They are mostly available in human figures and animals. They are usually in gold or copper colour, giving a perfect finish that your centerpiece needs. So if you have always admired the artistic side of India, you NEED to get this!
13. Evergreen Sandalwood carvings
Something as rare as Sandalwood should make a place in your home without a doubt! They are timeless pieces that are ideal for a gift to any colleague. You can buy them in Karanataka and Kerala as the Sandalwood originated from there. You smell them, and you cannot stay away from them! I even got one for my grandmother back home since she loves the smell of anything woody!
14. Embroidered Bed covers and table mats
These specialities from Gujarat could sound very common, but trust me, they are breathtakingly beautiful with intricate details. They are done in patchwork and decorated with mirrors and also make an excellent gift for anyone’s housewarming party. Against the monochrome backdrop of the couch, these cushion covers will steal the show for sure!
15. Chikankari handloom from Lucknow
Alright, if you are not from India, this is not what it sounds like! Chicken curry is not what we are dealing with in this list, lol. However, Lucknow is the one-stop destination that fulfills all your needs. For splendid views and history, head to Mughal monuments and forts, for food, try kebabs and kheer. And when it comes to shopping, these cotton embroidered sarees, Kurtis, dupattas, and palazzo suits are a great steal! Lucknow offers these hand-embroidered work on pastel shades, which are best suited for summer wear.
16. Taste of Indian Tea
I find this one exotic of all on the list! It is always great to gift some tea for tea-lovers. The best part is they will love it no matter what! It is also easy to prepare and has a longer shelf life. From Assam tea, Kerala green tea, to Munnar’s rose and chamomile tea, you can buy the best from the factory outlets. However, have a sachet and taste the tea before buying. They are also available in innumerable variants depending on your taste buds.
17. Khadi products from Delhi
The biggest Khadi store is in CP (Connaught Place), New Delhi. You can choose from various options like bathing soap, clothes, incense sticks, essential oils, candles, rice, and spices. They are genuine organic products and also represent what Indian values stand for.
18. Singing Bowls from Ladakh
They are great for calming a wandering soul! These are metallic bowls that chant the sound of ‘Om.’ When you continuously rub them, you can hear the hymn. If you have an acquaintance who is into meditation, then this gift is The One!
19. Solapith Craft from West Bengal
Reviving the ancient tradition of Solapith art forms, the art pieces are ideal for all handicraft lovers. These come in ornamental boxes and wall hangings. This ancient artwork is inspired by images of nature, god, and animals.
20. Antique paradise in Cochin
Bringing home a taste of the British era – the cutlery, linen, showpieces, musical instruments, and porcelain goods. Cochin is one of the humongous ports in India. Ships from all over the world arrive and unload the packages here. Hence, it is an antique paradise where you can get anything that’s rustic!
Each state of India has its own remarkable art form, be it food, dress, music, or handicraft. Wherever you travel, you are bound to find its local speciality. Read more about it here.
I will recommend shopping for gifts from the state’s local market instead of the emporiums or galleries. A few ideal Indian states for shopping are Rajasthan, Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Delhi. Let the shopping season begin!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.