Shopping in Agra

Aug 15th, 2004, 12:45 PM
  #1  
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Shopping in Agra

Agra is our first stop in India in mid-February next year. If all goes according to plan (i.e. all our connections work and we are not fogged out of our arrival in Delhi), we will arrive at our hotel late morning. We are staying two nights and my dear wife will probably need a shopping fix during that time. Any recommendations for a good introductory (to India) place or area in Agra for Indian (1) fabrics (2) jewelry and (3) crafts?
Craig is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 06:25 PM
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Honestly I would reco u not shop in Agra and save it for Delhi. There is nothing available in Agra which u cannot get in Del - and prices are the same. The most famous thing in Agra is the marble inlay pieces- boxes, wall plates, cheese platters, large size slabs for table tops (very heavy). The thing is as a foreigner in India u will prob get quoted prices which are ridiculous - to give you an example they could be 100% more that Cottage Industries in Del which is run byt eh Govt. If u see any small knick knacks that is one thing but def save the fabrics and jewelry for Jaipur or Del.
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Aug 15th, 2004, 07:07 PM
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Hi - just a warning. Several years ago when travelling in Agra we bought several pieces of inlaid marble and a "silk" carpet at a factory. The owner showed us official looking documents that bore (so we thought) the seal of the Indian Government. As well as written references from a lot of people (including some very well known ones). He was very kind and organised shipping for us. Months later the goods still hadn't arrived and we wrote to him several times. Eventually we were notified by customs that a package had arrive for us. We were so excited. Unfortunately the valuable black inlaid marble pieces were not that at all (cheap white sandstone in fact)and the "silk" carpet was a synthetic blend (very nice but not at all what we ordered). We contacted the Indian Government by letter giving them every detail and copies of our order forms etc and did not even get a reply. Just thought you should be warned. By the way this was a very very professional looking operation. We were even taken on a tour showing us the marble pieces being crafted and people weaving the carpets. If you do buy anything organise the shipping yourself through the post office or such - or take it with you.
Daneille is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 04:53 AM
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Danielle: The same thing happened to me inre to a supposedly silk robe I bought. On the train we met two textile salesmen who both said the material was in fact artificial silk. I was nearly duped in Agra as well until I was shown how to tell the difference. Simply take a piece of the sculpture and run it across a pieco of wood. If it leaves a chalk line, Voila!
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 05:33 AM
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I agree that if you are spending time in Delhi, that is the preferred place to shop. However, Agra is not bad. I thought I had some cards from shops here in my office, but will look at home. There are shopping arcades attached to most hotels, not the cheapest place to shop, but a good place to start looking and you will find good prices on some things.(Also, prices will generally seem so low to you that even paying hotel prices you will be getting a bargain.) The Sheraton and the Taj View Hotel have nice arcades, the Amarvilas (where I believe you are staying from previous posts) has some very good, albeit expensive, shops. I recall a nice tea shop in the center of Agra which sold loose tea, esp Kashmiri tea. I don't recall specific jeweler stores, you could try hotels, but IMO Jaipur is the best place for jewelry in north India. (Please do a lot of comparison shopping in the US before you go.) There are many large cotton fabric stores along the roads outside Agra, you could stop on your way back from Fatephur Sikri. I would be careful of any fabric other than cotton unless you really know your fabrics. I would not look for silk in India anyway, as it is not really known for silk, it is known for printed cottons and wool shawls. Bargain hard wherever you go, and pay cash as you will get the best price.

Not sure what your itinerary is, but with 2 days you will have enough to see without shopping. The Taj itself several times (e.g. sunrise and sunset), the Red Fort and Fatephur Sikri will take up most of your time.

All of the above bout being beware of fakes is good advice. If it seems too good to be true price wise it probably is. What I learned from shopping for "pearls" and "jade" in Asia is that if they tell me it is real jade/pearls, I say "Oh too bad, I was looking for fake jade/pearls because I am allergic". This usually causes some interesting backtracking on the shopowner's part! I have had good experiences shipping items from India, but know that that is not always the case. If you can carry or check it, you are much better off. Even large rugs (9 by 12) can be folded into manageable, albeit heavy, squares and checked with your luggage.
Cicerone is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 05:46 AM
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U can avoid fakes being passed off by going to shops which locals shops at - both Del and Jaipur have loads of these. I posted for someone else on the forum with loads of reco so try to pull that post up. Actually, IMHO Ind silk is amazing esp for clothes - the woven siilks, the silks with gold woven into them - it is not as heavy as Thai silk so may not lend itself as well to upholstery but the variety is amazing. U can find silk fabric at Cottage, at a great shop called Nallis in South Extn in Delhi (def take a look at the brocade stoles - our group bought about a dozen as gifts because they make great table runners), at Heritage again in South Ex. Cotton block printed fabrics in Jaipur and Delhi the same shops so if Jaipur is rushed just buy them in Delhi - shops are Anokhi, Soma, Cottons. Another must visit shop in Delhi is FabIndia. For gold jewelry u can go to Tribhovandas Bhimji on Janpath, near Cottage or Mehrasons in South Ex or Hazoorilal in Greater Kailash (near Cottons and FabIndia). I comp agree with Cicerone that in 2 days in Agra u will be pretty busy with 2 trips to the Taj (def wake up for the sunrise one), Agra Fort and FS. Ensure u give yourself some time to enjoy Amar Vilas - it is truly an amazing property.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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Thanks for all of your replies - this is very helpful. If we arrive "on time" in Agra, we will have the afternoon to recover from our flight followed by a full day to visit the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. After a second night at Amar Vilas, we head to Jaipur via Fatephur Sikri. Hopefully we will have enough time for everything. Our complete India itinerary is:
Day 1 - Arrive Agra (Amar Vilas) late morning
Day 2 - Agra
Day 3 - Jaipur (Raj Vilas) via Fatephur Sikri
Day 4 - Jaipur
Day 5 - Jaipur
Day 6 - Jaipur to Ranthambore (Sherbagh or waitlisted for Vanya Vilas) - afternoon game drive
Day 7 - Ranthambore - morning and afternoon game drives
Day 8 - Ranthanbore to Delhi (Imperial) via train after morning game drive
Day 9 - Delhi
Day 10 - Delhi
Day 11 - Delhi
Day 12 - Delhi - 3 PM checkout for early evening flight
Craig is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Couple of comments. U have enough time in Del to leave most of your shopping for there. I would say Agra and Jaipur enjoy the Vilas properties. This is esp true of Jaipur where the Raj Vilas is a bit outside the town so don't spend too much time going up and down. Def plan a meal at the rambagh and perhaps one at Samode outside jaipur as well if you are motivated (not Samode haveli in the city). Hope u have booked your jeep safaris in ranthambore as passes for the jeep safaris are given out 3+ months in advance else you will have to do the safaris by canter which is not as nice an experience. IIMHO stay at Sher bagh in Ranthambore - it is the most genuine "wildlife"exp of all the Ranth properties and closest to the park - this year they had tiger sightings on the perihpery of the property. Also, in Feb the additional facilities Vanya Vilas offers e.g. a/ced tents, swimming pool may not be that valuable. U can always do a meal at Vanya Vilas - maybe Day 6 dinner. If u really want to splurge upgrade in Jaipur to a villa with its own plunge pool - that is quite an experience. Delhi plan to do shopping in Connaught Place one day and get a driver to take you to South Delhi one day for South Ext, Greater kailash and the other markets I will tell u about nearer your trip.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 09:40 AM
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Not to be too pedantic, my experience with silk in India is that it is all sari material. It is very beautiful, but it is not wide enough for tablecloths, bedspreads, etc. It also has one end which is more transparent or does not have the same pattern (this part is meant to go over the shoulder), so you often can't use the whole piece which limits you further. You could cut it up for pillows, but IMO the price is too high for using it for that purpose; you might as well buy silk cushion covers in the US with zippers already in, etc. If you have time to find a tailor in India who will make them into pillows for you, then that is probably worth it. Sari material is just wide enough to make bolsters. You need to know the cushion cover size you need so the tailor can make it to fit the cusion (i.e., you will buy the inside cushion piece in the US and they generally come in standard sizes.)
Cicerone is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 07:38 PM
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Cicerone

Silks are not just sari material, you get a lot of silks by the yard, that are used to make salwar kameeze and ghagras etc. Also the Andhra pradesh emporiums have beautiful silks (Ikat print) and are much thicker than the saree silks or the dress material silks - they are also in what are called double widths. I am personally not fond of cushions and curtains or bed spreads in silks - but these fabrics would work great. I also remember the Punjab handicraft emporiums used to carry some sort of silk mix sheets, which have a subtel shine, but are sturdier than just regualr silk.

Unfortunately I am not familiar with Delhi - but someone maybe hobbes might have an idea where you could get this.
indie is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 07:51 PM
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All the emporiums Indie has mentioned are near Connaught Place at a place called Baba Kharak Singh Marg. This is a line of state emporiums. Combine it with your Cottage Industries day as all in the same vicinity. Indie is quite right - it is a misconception that Indian silk fabrics are mostly sarees. Everything mentioned and more is available by the meter in various widths - 45, 54, 60 inch. The shops I mentioned in South Extn also have Indiian brocades and "tanchoi" fabrics - truly exquisite woven with gold. Ind wraps (which in India are worn with traditional Ind outfits) make great stoles to dress up any outfit. When we were in Delhi in Apr all of us also bought outfits at a shop called Ritus in a market called Hauz Khas - one of their claims to fame is that Princess Di used to shop there! At about US$100 for an outfit comprising a crepe or silk tunic, parallel pants and a stole often with embroidery everyone thought it was great value. Craig u could combine that with your South Extension and Greater Kailash shopping day. Ritus is also close to a great silk carpet shop called CIE.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 08:36 PM
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Hi Hobbes, we will be in Delhi for 3 days and although we want and look forward to some great shopping we really want to enjoy the sights of Delhi with out the rush.
This being the case, can you please suggest a good condensed must go shopping areas. I never spend big bucks on shopping so label items/areas not necessary and the only jewellery we will be looking for will be trendy type fashion jewellery not gold. (does that info help?) Hope so.
The atmosphere of shopping is half the fun so good markets would be helpful also
Also I see many recommendations for FabIndia - do they sell everything or specialise?
Thanks for any info
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 11:50 PM
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Cosmo, I do not remember where you are staying in Del. IMHO Cottage Industries on janpath is a MUSt visit. U will get textiles, linen, handicrafts (e.g. marble inlay, papier mache), silver jewelry, ceramic - it is 6 floors of shopping heaven. The fact that prices might be a bit higher than you would find in individual shops selling the same is offset IMO by the convenience of shopping in an a/c one stop shop. This is located in Connaught Place near the Imperial Hotel. FabIndia houses clothes (mens, womens and childrens - all with a bit of an "ethnic" slant on contemporary designs e.g. mens full sleeve shirts in Jaipuri block printed fabrics), linen - table ware, curtains, bedspreads (all in block printed mostly cotton fabrics, bit of linen and silk), some knick knacky home stuff . The best branch is in Greater Kailash 1 M block market. In case yu are not staying in the vicinity it can be out of the way. It will be en route the Qutub Minar and not far from Humayuns Tomb if either of those are on your sightseeing itineraries. Open all days except Sunday until 7 PM. The Dilli Haat stalls have great ambience - near INA market again in South Delhi, but shopping can be hit and miss. the stalls change every few weeks so the craftsmen you encounter can be quite diff from someoone else who had an a amazing shopping exp.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 17th, 2004, 02:59 AM
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Thanks very much Hobbes. We are staying at the Master Paying Guest House the website says it is located at R-500, New Rajinder Nagar - Near Crossing of Shankar Road and Ganga Ram Hospital Road.
Your info sounds a great help. We are leaving Delhi and going overland to Kathmandu so Im planning on sea mailing some shopping home. Can you help me out with any info on this please? Is it safe to do so or is there a chance that it will go missing. Im unsure whether it is best to find a shipping company or use the government postoffice. Any details would be helpful
cheers



Cosmo is offline  
Aug 17th, 2004, 03:17 AM
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Sorry Hobbes, also meant to ask - is it bargaining time at Cottage Industries and FabIndia or set price?
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 17th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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I would suggest a private shipping company. Both Cottage and FabIndia are fixed price stores. U are quite close to Cottage and the Baba Kharak Singh marg state emporiums (also fixed price). far from FabIndia so ditch that unless you are going as I mentioned earlier to the vicinity.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 04:44 AM
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To Hobbes or anyone else who can offer help - Has anyone used a shipping company to send their own shopping home (for market shopping not in the stores that ship for you)
Are there many of these companies and are they easy to locate. Any info on the where and the how (the process - if complicated) would be great - thanks
Cosmo is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 07:30 AM
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Hobbes, if you are checking this thread - above you mention having a meal at Samode outside Jaipur. The website lists 2: Samode Bagh and Samode Palace both about 40 km outside Jaipur. Seems like a long way to go for a meal (at least in India) - I notice you did say "if you are motivated". Which Samode were you referring to and are there any attractions for sightseeing nearby?
Craig is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Cosmo, Samode Palace and Samode Bagh are almost next door to each other. I was suggesting Samode palace which is a gorgeous property. But agree is a bit of a drive - will take u an hour. Check if it is on your way in or out of Jaipur - do not recall your detailed itinerary. Re shipping companies. Large ones in India are DHL, Blue Dart, Elbee - have ties ups with the likes of UPS. Look up their websites for a location near u in Delhi.
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