You can also check the handloom line that flaunts the remarkable Kashmiri embroidery, which when worn, renders an elegant look to the overall appearance. There are also pretty papier mache products which you would swoon a thousand time over. This post is dedicated to Srinagar shopping that many might not be aware of but exist in the capital city of Kashmir Valley and also a checklist of the items that are exclusive to Srinagar which you must buy.
Famous Things to Buy in Srinagar
The oriental rugs from Kashmir are a popular choice for the great patterns and colours all over the world. These carpets are hand-knotted which doubles up the value of these rugs. In India, Kashmir is the first place where the art of carpet-making began. In the late 15th century, King Badshah invited Persian craftsmen to India to impart training on the art of carpet weaving. The unique technique with which the Kashmiri carpets are knotted makes them stronger and last over long durations. These carpets are weaved either with pure wool or entirely silk and do not contain a mix of wool and silk, unlike the practice prevalent in the low-quality carpets.
The number of knots is directly proportional to the durability of a Kashmiri carpet. Very light in weight, these carpets might appear to be highly priced, but considering the number of efforts and time invested by craftsmen in weaving these carpets, the prices are justified. The completion of one carpet alone requires approximately eight to ten months. From growing silk to deciding on the patterns to be drawn on a carpet and then treating, dyeing and rendering finishing touches, the art of carpet weaving is laborious. So, while you are shopping in Srinagar, you must check out the exclusive Kashmiri carpets, and we can assure you that you will be awestruck with their magnificence.
2. Walnut Wood Items
The artisans of Kashmir are known for their special talent of being capable of carving detailed patterns on walnut wood. One can also get furniture and home décor items of ordinary wood carving. Kashmir is one of those exceptional places where walnut is grown at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above the sea level. Walnut wood has a great texture and can last for long periods. The craftsmen create a detailed design on the wood pieces to transform these into wooden bowls, trays, tables, chairs and other items.
3. Papier Mache Artifacts
The incredible art of papier-mache in Kashmir was again brought in by the Persian artists to the region in the 15th century. These handicrafts are prepared with paper pulp which is moulded into different shapes and sizes. When solidified, they are coloured and richly decorated by the craftsmen. It is hard to believe that it is possible to transform waste paper into artefacts so beautiful.The most interesting part is the that the colours used for 'Naqashi'or the designing on the papier mache products are organic or of vegetable-base. From decorative boxes to flower vases, you can lay your hands on the vast range of papier mache products while shopping at Srinagar.
4. Kashmiri Pashminas
Everyone knows about the gorgeous Kashmiri shawls. Made out of wool, Pashmina, silk, or a blend of these, Kashmiri shawls are sheer elegance and a must-buy item when shopping in Srinagar. The art of shawl making is more of a family affair, passed on from one generation to another. Both men and women in the family are involved in different roles. While the women are responsible for the embroidery and spinning of wool, the men work on the handlooms which are heavy to ply.
The role of dyers come at a later stage. These dyers use organic dyes for hand-dyeing the shawls. After this, the shawls go back to the craftsmen for embroidery where they handcraft patterns and designs with the help of needles of varied sizes. Thick needles are used to produce designs of larger sizes whereas thin needles will yield very fine designing on the shawls. Embroidery on one shawl may take weeks to be completed, depending upon the designs on it.
5. Kashmiri Tea
One of the most popular and in-demand items that should be on every traveller’s list is Kashmiri Tea, known for its amazing and truly hypnotic colour and flavour. It is quite different from the tea we have every day. For preparation, they mainly use pure green or oolong tea leaves as opposed to the usual black tea. Kashmiri Kahwa and pink tea(noon chai) are among the favourites for the travellers. Noon Chai which is pink in colour takes about an hour to make due to its special method of preparation.
Locally known as Traam, Kashmiri copperware and craft is a symbol of elegance and royalty with its beautifully carved designs and patterns. It is a flourishing industry and is considered to be synonymous with Kashmir as it is deeply rooted in Kashmiri culture. The beautiful craftsmanship of Kashmir is known across the world for their engraving works and making household products like Lota(pot), Naer (water jug), Samovar(for preparing tea) and much more. Go buy yourselves some beautifully engraved copperware as souvenirs to take home with you.
Kashmir has one of the best cuisines in India with its mouth-watering dishes bursting of flavours and spices. The main reason behind this is because they can boast of making their own spices that bring out the authentic Kashmiri taste. Kashmiris have always been particular about their spices which we can ascertain from their sophisticated cuisine. Spices like Saffron, the all famous Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder and black cumin are some of the spices that are special to the region. These are usually found everywhere in Kashmir.
Shopping Malls and Markets in Srinagar
Here is a list of 7 markets in Srinagar:
1. Zaina Kadal Road
For the perfect street shopping in Srinagar, visit Zaina Kadal Road. The small shops and stalls display a plethora of goods and products that you cannot say no to. The true shopaholic in you will love the vibe around this place. Traditional Kashmiri line of products, ranging from Kashmiri clothing to handicraft items are available for sale in abundance here. The variety available for any product will leave you perplexed on what to pick and which ones to leave. If you have always been waiting for the right moment to get that one favourite tattoo during an adventurous trip, then you can indulge in the same as some of the stores offer tattoo making and body piercing at Zaina Kadal Road.
Timings: 9:00 AM - 08:00 PM
2. Lal Chowk
A large assortment of goods will attract the shopaholic in you to Lal Chowk. Visit this place early to let a couple of hours slip by without you realizing while you sift through the small shops here. The jaw-dropping views are worth a visit if you are interested in capturing the mountains and lakes that surround the place. Lal Chowk also has a smear of history in its name, if you recall the fire attack in 1993 which shook the entire nation.
The place is a number one must-visit market in Srinagar for all that it has to offer to tourists and locals at the same time. People who do not mind bargaining with the shopkeepers to strike the perfect deal will enjoy every minute spent here. This market has several vendors selling exquisite items crafted out of walnut wood. These items can be anything - be it a photo frame or furniture. Crockery items such as bowls or trays made out of walnut wood are also available. One can also expect rich quality pashmina shawls, Kashmiri clothing and handicraft items in the picturesque local favourite market in the city.
If you have heard people bragging about beautiful Kashmiri carpets and plan on to buy one, this is the place that sells best quality carpets available in different patterns and designs. These carpets are famous all over the world for the fact that they are handmade and add a certain charm to the décor of your home. Vendors at Badshah Chowk sell these carpets at affordable rates. The origin of carpet weaving in India can be traced to Kashmir being among the first to encourage the practice.
The intricate patterns will tempt you into buying one while shopping in Srinagar, even if you did not intend to and if you can negotiate well, then, you can score a steal. Additionally, while visiting Badshah Chowk, you can also pick a couple of genuine Pashmina Shawls which are very promising in dreadful winters. There is also a wide range of embroidered clothing line available such as Kurtis, Salwar Suits and tops which locals wear in the region.
Timings: 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
4. Floating Vegetable Market
Now everyone knows about the infamous Dal Lake, be its breathtaking beauty, vast size or houseboats but there is something more to it that everyone must know. The lake boasts of a fascinating Floating Vegetable Market. Visitors in huge numbers come by, every day to the iconic Dal Lake to see and buy vendors selling flowers, fruits and vegetables. It is an essential part of the life of locals who buy and sell fresh vegetables and fruits.
The market starts early in the morning. Therefore, it is wise to book a Shikara or a boat a day in advance to catch the early morning sights and bargains. The serene sight of vendors assembling their boats for the day's sale renders a dreamy look to the surrounding and is worth capturing in a camera as well as your heart. You can also get authentic saffron here. A Floating Vegetable Market is not a common one, so, make sure you pin down a note on your 'to-visit' list when you are shopping at Srinagar.
Timings: 6:00 AM - 7:30 AM
5. Residency Road
Shopper's paradise, Residency Road is located very close to the Lal Chowk. If you are shopping in Srinagar, you have to visit this place, without fail. The hustle-bustle in the streets will be a memorable melody in your Srinagar vacation chapter. Walk along this treasure trove and you will discover that it has a lot in store for you. While it is famous for Dogra jewellery and Kashmiri handicrafts, do bag heaps of supreme quality dry fruits such as figs, raisins, dates, apricots from Residency Road. Walnuts and authentic spices are also popular here - we recommend that you grab those for friends and family as a precious gift for them.
Timings: 5:00 AM - 11:00 PM
6. Kashmir Government Arts Emporium
Art lovers, this one is especially for you. You can find the Kashmir Government Arts Emporium in the Bahu Plaza Shopping Complex in Panama Chowk of Srinagar. It is the only store in the area that caters the needs of those who still value the work of skilled artisans and craftsmen. The Kashmir Government Arts Emporium has a motive of promoting local arts and crafts. You can find distinct art forms which reflect the rich culture of Kashmir. These artisans exhibit their talent with great detailing, placing quality at the topmost criteria of their work specialization. The lovely ambience of this place leaves a calming effect on the mind and soul while the tourists cannot help but wonder at the exhibited talent. It is closed on Sundays.
Timings: 9:00 AM - 06:00 PM
7. Fair Deal Shopping Complex
Located in the Regal Chowk area, the Fair Deal Shopping Complex will offer you a vast choice range in Kashmiri clothing. The unmatchable skills of the Kashmiri artisans can be seen in the artefacts sold here. From Kasmiri clothing to wooden artefacts, this shopping complex offers everything you would want to take home to reminisce the good times in Srinagar. The place is always bustling with people and is very popular among tourists for making the most of shopping in Srinagar. Make sure that you do not miss out on visiting it with your family as it promises to house something interesting for everyone. There are also some great bargains offered here that would make you want to come back here to fill your shopping bags. Kashmiri shawls are a great hit here, do buy a couple of them.
Timings: 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
8. Polo ViewPolo view market is considered to be the market hub of Kashmir. If you want something specific, this is the place to come. The area is packed with shops that sell almost everything you want and need, everything ranging from authentic Kashmiri Handicrafts and clothes to papier-mache and pashmina shawls. It is one of the best places to get mementoes and souvenirs for you and your loved ones.
Shopping Mall in Srinagar
8. Sangarmaal City Center
Location: Sangarmaal Shopping Center, Munawarabad Link Road, Near Polo Ground, Srinagar,
Timings: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tips for Shopping in SrinagarWhile raiding the markets in Srinagar, these are a few points that you need to keep in mind so that you enjoy your shopping experience in a new city:
- If you happen to come across a tourist guide who suggests you visit a particular shop, avoid going there as they have their fixed commission fee from these shops. Therefore, you will end up buying more for a certain product at such shops and stores.
- For buying handicrafts in the region, blindly trust the Kashmir Government Arts Emporium. The good are sold at reasonable prices, and the quality is superior.
- When it comes to Kashmiri carpets, always ensure that they are double knotted as these last longer.
- For buying a genuine Pashmina Shawl and not feel cheated, you can visit Kashmir Shawl Museum to understand the testing technique for identifying pure Pashmina.
- Lal Chowk and Zaina Kadal Street are ideal shopping in Srinagar sites for getting a priced catch.
- Some of the woodwork stores take customisation orders. In case, you are willing to get a certain handicraft item personalized, you can check with the store manager once.