The inside track to shopping in J&K

Recycled woollen cloth pieces are embellished with crewel embroidery to make beautiful rugs.
Image courtesy: ©George Clerk/Getty Images

Kashmir’s artisans are famous for their delicate and intricate work, whether it’s an embroidered shawl, a hand-crafted walnut wood table or a woollen carpet. Ladakh is also a good place to pick up Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas and brightly painted furniture.

Raghunath Bazaar in Jammu and Lal Chowk in Srinagar are the popular haunts for dry fruits, spices and souvenirs. The state emporiums are a great place to pick up authentic handicrafts.

What to Buy

J&K is a haven for handicrafts, textiles and dry fruits.

SHAWLS– Classy and beautiful, pashmina shawls are probably the most popular buy in Kashmir. Hand-woven ones are expensive. Pure wool ‘raffel’ shawls are much cheaper but equally pretty, with the intricacy of the embroidery determining their value.

CARPETS– Antique Kashmiri carpets are worth their weight in gold and it’s difficult to find authentic hand-woven specimens. More affordable are namdas – cotton rugs and gabbas – which are stitched collages of recycled woollen cloth pieces embellished with crewel embroidery.

FURNITURE– Visitors to Leh are always struck by the ornate Tibetan-style furniture, especially foldable choktses (tables). Kashmiri woodwork is exemplary too. Popular souvenirs include walnut wood latticed screens and picture frames.

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Walnuts are widely available in the markets of Jammu and Kashmir
Walnuts are widely available in the markets of Jammu and Kashmir
Image courtesy: ©Flickr/Chris/CC BY 2.0

DRY FRUITS- Fresher and cheaper than most other places, dry fruits such as cashews and walnuts are one of J&K’s biggest exports.

METALWARE- Copperware has a history in Kashmir, and you’ll find all types of bowls, jugs and utensils being sold in Lal Bazaar, Srinagar. A copper samovar makes for an excellent gift.

PAPIER MÂCHÉ- Papier mâché is believed to have been first introduced in Kashmir way back in the 15th century and you’ll find all manner of relatively inexpensive artefacts to take home.

PAINTINGS & THANGKAS- The world-famous Basohli miniatures sell for millions at international auctions. You’ll find very respectable imitations at emporia in Jammu. Thangkas (fabric paintings with Buddhist imagery) are available at souvenir shops in Leh’s Main Bazaar.