HEY, BIG SPENDER!
WORDS: AKHILA VIJAYKUMAR
PHOTOGRAPHS: KRISHNA ANGIRA
Those who love to shop love Jodhpur. Antiques, handicrafts, fabrics, footwear – you name it, and Jodhpur will have it, probably tucked away in a restored haveli. What’s more, the city is simpatico to lazy shoppers. Nothing opens till about 11am, so you can sleep in, enjoy another cup of masala chai and set forth, wallet quivering in anticipation. But, if you’re a morning person, or god help you, travelling with one, your best hope is The Museum Shop at Mehrangarh Fort, opening at 9am, and a must-see microcosm of Jodhpur’s many offerings. After a steep hike up Mehrangarh Fort, you’ll be ready for some calm contemplation over polo-themed T-shirts, clothing for women and kids, ittars, knick-knacks with Jodhpuri motifs, tea bags, eclectic books on Rajasthan, and bags and purses in native fabrics. There is also a small selection of paintings by local artists, and, on the way out, stalls selling handicrafts like block-printed and bandhini fabrics, and mojdis. Artisans at these stalls are rotated on a monthly basis, but are asked to keep their prices to a given range, so ask to see the fixed price sheet before making a purchase.
Another must-visit is Lalji Handicrafts, an emporium of antiques and furniture. You can spend hours here just walking past myriad shelves of cigarette and other advertising posters, perfume bottles, enamel doorknobs and peacock-shaped handles, and even vintage buttons and postcards. The staff is helpful and honest about pointing out the differences between ‘antique’ and ‘reproduction’.
If your trip is a little longer, forego visiting the MV Spices outlet at the fort in favour of its outlet in the Clock Tower market area. Let the friendly owners offer you a tea-tasting session, tell you about the sourcing and grinding of their organic teas and spices, as well as the history of this family-run firm, while your senses are beguiled by the heady aromas of cloves, cinnamon and the pungent Mathania chillies, which are sold only in powder form; deeply red and almost oil-free.
Down the road from MV Spices is a place containing the secret behind that Jodhpuri swagger: India Tailors, purveyors of finely-crafted Jodhpuri polo breeches, jackets and more. They cater to customers as elite as the Jodhpur royals, with effortless, exact fits based on measurements alone. Happily, they are also open to custom-making Jodhpurs, and, thus, swagger, for women too.
Of course, as unfairly as usual, women have more options in the Blue City. Like the Sambhali Boutique, where you’ll find clothes, bags and more, all made by underprivileged women and girls, trained and supported by the Sambhali Trust. Vibrant fabrics and careful stitching ensure that you’re doing some good to your closet and your karma.
Follow the winding road from Sambhali to Bibaji Churi Wale, one of the oldest bangle sellers here, where a charmingly irascible Bibaji, or Abdul Sattar, will help you choose bangles by colour, budget or style as generations of his family have done for the women of the Jodhpur royal family. Crystal, glass, lac, plastic and plain metal bangles abound in the shop, in every size possible.
You can explore Jodhpur’s other shopping areas, too – simply slather on some sunscreen, hike up your Jodhpurs, and swagger out.