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vicki2201 Nov 8th, 2009 10:23 AM

Buying Oriental Rugs in New Delhi
I'm going to be in New Delhi in about a week's time and I love shopping for house things. I have my heart set on Oriental rugs and silver pieces like candlesticks, vases, coasters, etc. I've never been to New Delhi so I don't know what to expect. All I know is that I'm scared of being ripped off.

My husband has an associate who's wife will assist me, but just wanted to know if there are any tips any of you fodorites can share with me about New Delhi and India.

I think we're also going to do a one day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

Thanks for anything you can share!


lcuy Nov 8th, 2009 11:36 AM

Carpet salesmen are truly amazing.They will become your best friend, have you wanting to use your money to support the poor carpet knotters, and will convince you that every carpet is severely underpriced, all because you're the best customer they've ever had!

Bargain very, very hard. ridiculously hard.
shop at a reputable place.
Take your measurements with you (metric!), or better yet take your own tape measure. Sometimes the fringe counts in the size, sometimes not.
Do not buy at the first shop, unless your helper knows for a fact that they are the best place to buy.
Use a credit card if you will have it shipped, and sign your name with a laundry pen across the back.
If you take a taxi or driver, tell them where you want to go. Do not take their advice, as they will want to go somewhere they earn commissions.
Do a little reading before you go: 100% wool? 100%Silk? Silk/wool mix? Cotton/wool mix? etc.

vicki2201 Nov 8th, 2009 03:29 PM

Thanks for the great tips, appreciate it!

Jaya Nov 8th, 2009 05:09 PM

Visit a rug store where you live if you have time before your trip and let them explain hand made rugs to you (of, course you have to appear that you may buy from THEM and that you aren't there just to learn).

Things to keep in mind:
- the more knots per square inch the denser the pile and better it will hold up over time.
- be aware however, that if you put the rug in a sunny area of your home the color may fade. The dyes are delicate and sometimes don't stand up to UV light.
- look at the rug from the underside to see if the knots are as dense as the salesman says they are (you can only approximate) and that the work is neat and clean.
- walk on the rug with your barefeet. Some rugs are rough and won't work well in an area where you walk barefoot in your house.

I like lcuy's suggestion to sign the back of the rug you purchase if it's going to be sent.

Cicerone Nov 9th, 2009 10:29 PM

It has been a long time since I have purchased a rug in India, but I have been happy with purchases I have made there. However I agree with all of the above, esp about doing shopping at home before you leave. If you don’t know your prices at home, there is no way to know whether you are being offered a bargain. The fact that you would refer to the rug which you are looking for as an “oriental” rug makes me think you may not have done any research yet, as what you may be thinking of as an “oriental” rug is not typical for India. There are many different kinds of rugs woven in many different ways; it’s important to know what you want, as you may not find it here to begin with. As you may know, rugs which are Iranian in origin cannot be imported into the US, so also bear that in mind. You may be surprised at the good prices at home, esp when you consider shipping and possible customs duties which will add to the cost of your “bargain” here. (Anything you do not carry with you on the plane is not included in your duty-free US$800 exemption, US $1600 per couple. So Uncle Sam may take a part of the purchase price in custom tax when you ship it home. Bear that in mind.) Even a large rug can be folded in a heavy, but compact square and checked as luggage, so don’t rule out the possibility of taking it with you.

All that being said, if you like buying house wares, well there are <i>plenty</i> of opportunities in India to go hog wild and will not include being ripped off by a rug merchant. You can buy all sorts of things here at very low prices. Table linens are a very good buy here, try something like the Central Cottages Emporium which is fixed price, of pretty good but not luxurious quality. Also try Anokhi shops (see below):

Central Cottage Industries Emporium
Jawahar Vyapar Bhawan
Janpath, New Delhi
Tel. : 23725035
Fax : 91-11-3328354

A homeware/furniture shop I just love here is Good Earth, they have table and bed linens and furniture (they will ship too) and also make china in unusual colours and patterns. See Very good quality, and you probably know more about china prices and quality than you do about rugs. I would also go to Fab India and look at their enormous selection of stuff, see they have several locates in Delhi, including the Khan Market, where there is a Good Earth and an Anokhi textlie shop.

You could also go to the Shantushi Shopping Arcade which has several houseware shops, including an outlet of Good Earth. This is an outdoor shopping "mall" owned and operated by wives of Navy officers. The shopping area is a series of small cottages surrounded by lawns. Extremely pleasant as it is enclosed and no beggars or hawkers are allowed.

Santushi Shopping Complex
New Wellingdon Camp, Delhi
Phone: 11/467-3322

Also consider a stop at Hauz Khas Village, this is sort of the "Soho" of New Delhi, lots of small and trendy shops, with some good restaurants. An interesting place to wander for an afternoon. It is not far from the Quatab Minar and could be a stop for lunch and shopping after a visit there in the morning.

I would also suggest a visit to the Indian Crafts Museum (Bhairon Road Pragati Maidan, New Delhi). This is a good small-scale museum showcasing various Indian handicrafts. They have a shop selling the handicrafts, proceeds go back to the local communities.

Don’t forget that saris and other fabrics can be used as table linens, wall hangings, duvet covers, etc. For some really lovely fabrics, I would go to Anokhi Textiles, see, they have an outlet in Khan Market. Saris and other fabrics are available all over in all prices and qualities, Fab India is a good place to look. You can also buy wool patterned saddle bags and turn them into pillows; these are often sold already converted to pillows in rug shops and are a cheaper alternative to buying a rug, and IMO less chance of being ripped off. You should be able to find a tailor to make a sari or piece of fabric into a duvet cover or pillow.

For silver I would first try Ravissant, they are know for their silver. They have two outlets in Delhi, including a small one at the Oberoi Hotel. See They won't be cheap but the quality will be excellent. I would also try Good Earth shops, see the link above. Also brass and copper water pots can make nice decorations, you often see brass pots for sale cheaply in street markets (everyone wants plastic as it is lighter).

You may just want to forget about rugs and concentrate on other houseware items.

Do NOT DO ANY SHOPPING IN AGRA. Far too touristy and too much of a rip-off. IMO a day trip is not worth it unless you can fit in sunset and sunrise, which really requires an overnight.

rhkkmk Nov 10th, 2009 05:51 AM

we bought an 8X10 while there....we are very pleased with it...its a fun experience....purchase price usually includes air shipment...mine came in 5 days...

bargain hard of course but only once you see the one you want...

HAVE A CLEAR IDEA ABOUT SIZE, COLORS, PATTERN before you go or it will take hours to find the right carpets as they drag all kinds of things out to look at that you do not want.. this is very important....

rhkkmk Nov 10th, 2009 05:53 AM

know approximate prices at home

vicki2201 Nov 10th, 2009 07:09 AM

Icuy, Jaya, Cicerone and rhkkmk--THANK YOU so much for all your kind responses. First thing I will do is visit the local rug store here (I'm not in the States) and see what they have. I've bought smaller rugs before (6 x 8 being the biggest) in HK, in Beijing and in Turkey so I know about knots and lines but not much really. I just know what I like when I see it. I've also kept a record of all the prices I bought them for which is very helpful. (I realized I paid too much in HK over 17 years ago when I finally got to Beijing ten years later). While I love the silk rugs, I think the woolen ones hold up much better. I'm hoping for a 10 x 13 and will lug it home with me if I find one.

Actually it will be interesting to ask travelers/shoppers where was their best persian/oriental rug purchase. (I use the term "persian/oriental" to describe the style, and not the actual providence)

Cicerone, your detailed tips are much appreciated. I will print that out and take it with me. I've never been to India but I've been told I will be overwhelmed with all the sights and smells. I'm very excited to shop for just about anything, and will post a shopping report when I get back. Thanks again!

vicki2201 Nov 10th, 2009 07:24 AM

Cicerone, I checked out Good Earth--what a beautiful trendy store. I will definitely visit. Can you tell me too where I can go to buy good quality kurtis? No need for designer quality. A store that is the similar of Good Earth to homeware. I"m in my 40's so no super trendy young things, but I'm also very far from being a grandmother yet :)

lcuy Nov 10th, 2009 11:30 AM

Fab india has a huge selection of clothing and is very cheap. Anokhi has a bit better quality, and is more trendy (and expensive). they tend to have a small selection of styles, but various prints in each style. Also, a place called Cotton ----something like Market or Cargo. It is the very first store as you enter the Hauz khas area. Street Level, and the building is angled. you'll see it. lots of nice kurtis, and very reasonable prices.

If you go to Khan Market, there is a Good Earth, Fab India, and an Anokhi all in the same market. There is a tailor I like there the back section of Bombay Dying. there are two Bombay Dying shops..This is the one on your right as you are facing the building. I don't recommend buying BD fabrics, and the tailor is best at copying simples styles or doing alterations. very cheap and reliable though.

Cicerone Nov 11th, 2009 06:49 PM

For hand-blocked cotton clothing (and also household linens), I have always liked Soma, I know their Mumbai shop better than their Delhi shop, but they have one in Connaught Place:
K-44,Connaught Place
Opp. PVR Plaza
New Delhi
Tel: +91 11 23416003

I have also always liked the ladies clothing shop in the Taj Mahal hotel, it may be more expensive than you want to pay, but good quality. You might also look in the Karol Baugh area which has many smaller shops (and stop at the incredible Ahujasons, the mother load of shawls, see This area is fun to just walk around, esp in early evening when it is packed with shoppers. I agree that Hauz Khas Village would be a good choice for quality and more funky clothing selection. And Fab India will just amaze you with their tremendous selection of everything.

The best rug bargains I ever got were at rug auctions in Singapore. I don’t think they do them any longer, but they used to be held every Sunday afternoon at the Hyatt and other hotels in Orchard Road. I don’t think I paid more than US$250 for any rug I ever bought over the years there, including a few very large ones.

vicki2201 Nov 17th, 2009 05:45 AM

Im in India--and Icuy and Cicerone will scold me.

I bought in the first rug place I entered! I bought in Agra! Horrors to me. It was a tourist trap Im sure. BUt every time I look at the photo of what I bought on my phone, I am happy. Got a 6 x 9 for 60% of asking price, got him to throw in a 4 X 6 and then added a small 2x3 right before we shook hands. He didn't look that sad, so I think I still overpaid. But I loved what I bought--so tempting to open the package (I'm handcarrying it back with me) but I know I"ll never be able to fold it.

NOw I'm in Delhi and will probably visit one more carpet store for fun (and to cry after I compare prices with Agra)

SHopped Fab India today, at their 3-storey shop outside a mall. I didn't realize that most malls are CLOSED on Tuesdays!!! What a crime! WIll attempt again tomorrow. I came across a fabulous store called Soffi in the mall in Gurgaun. Are there other branches of that place? Love the pillowcases! Also stopped Lifestyle and picked up a few Biba tunics. How beautiful!

I have one more day tomorrow and wanted to do some silver. Just drink coasters, nothing big. Let me know if you have any other tips, and I promise to follow this time.

Thanks all.

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