Shopping in Kashmir is not about window shopping or roaming around swanky malls looking out for things you want, but it is walking down the streets dotted with shops, vendors and customers busy negotiating for the best price of coveted item. It is an experience in itself, both fascinating and unforgettable.
Going back in time, when Mir Sayed Ali Hamdani, a mystic from Persia moved here in 14th century, the markets flourished with his arrival and with the art he brought with him. Soon Srinagar became a Mecca of art and crafts with Pashmina shawl-weaving, papier- mâché, copper engraving and more. Kashmiri handicrafts have been cherished for decades now and perhaps, there’s nothing that epitomizes the glorious history of Kashmir as its craftsmanship.
Find the best of Kashmiri Kalakari in Lal Chowk, Badshah Chowk, Old City, Rajbagh and Polo View. Explore these street bazaars, keep sampling the spoils of this most beautiful place on earth, and take back the lush green hillside and majestic Kashmir imbibed in the souvenirs of art. Don’t forget to carry an extra empty suitcase when coming to Kashmir, as there’s a lot of interesting little things to pick up.
Here are a few things that the city is famous for.
- Pashmina Shawls: Kashmir’s Pashmina shawls and stoles have captured the hearts of thousands of shoppers. Evolved over three hundred years, it is a legacy of the great rulers. The Kashmiri shawls are made either of wool, pashmina or shantoosh. It’s an expensive buy!
- Kashmiri Fashion: If you are on hunt for stylish Kashmiri fashion then the hand embroidered Salwar kameezes, kaftans, pathani suits and jackets are perfect for you.
- Local Tea: With so many different tea flavors to choose from, Kashmir is a perfect destination for all the tea addicts. From saffron, dry fruit, to powdered version of Kashmiri Kahwa, you’ll get every flavor here.
Take back home some aromatic local tea!
- Kashmiri Fragrances and essence: If you love smelling good and the only thing you splurge on is fragrance, then you cannot miss the gorgeous smelling essential oils made from lavender and walnut. And if you are a little too much into natural products and beauty than bring back some naturally made face packs for healthy glowing skin.
- Papier-mâché: It is a form of art that was brought to Kashmir in the 15th century and was known as Kari Qalamdani, as it was just restricted to pen stands. Later, it was expanded and today they stand out for their wide variety and design. The Papier-mâché products are affordable, durable, provided they are not crushed and unparalleled work of art. Shop for trays, boxes, pen stands, figurines, vases and even papier-mâché furniture.
- Leather Goods: Kashmir was a major export of leather goods. Find the best quality of embroidered leather jackets and bags.
- Dry Fruits: Kashmir has been long famous for its high quality dry fruit. You’ll find an endless produce of smoked almonds, walnuts and saffron to dried cranberries, dates and prunes.
- Rugs and Carpets: if you are looking for rug, carpet or wall hanging, then this is the place. You’ll find the finest craftspeople for carpet-weaving and needlepoint tapestry.
- Copperware and Willow Baskets: Walk down the Old city to buy some antique copper ware like samovars and trays and some willow baskets. These copper utensils form an integral part of every Kashmiri bride’s trousseau and there’s a wide variety that can be bought. You can also bring back some solid cricket bats made of indigenous willow.
- Walnut Wood Furniture: Wait! Wait! Wait! Don’t worry, the furniture can be shipped easily all over the world. Leave your address with us, and we will ship it to you. Walnut woodwork is among the most important crafts of Kashmir, its hard and durable, it’s close grain and even texture facilitating fine and detailed work.
- Bakery Items: Only if you are travelling back home by air, make a stop at a local bakery for some Lavaasa, Girdas, Kulchas, walnut biscuits, tarts, cakes, Kashmiri bread- baqarkhani and sheermal, and a variety of puffs. Munching these snacks can definitely make you travel even more enriching.
Srinagar is without any doubt the best shopping destination with so much variety and uniqueness. Row upon row of shops filled with these must-buy items. We’d suggest you to go on a guided walk through these places, see artisans at work and enjoy a cup of Kahwa with their families and experience Kashmir’s legendary hospitality.