Delhi

Delhi is a shopping center for goods from all over India, making it the best place to stock up on gifts and souvenirs. Bargaining is often appropriate—and almost mandatory. A good rule of thumb: When the price is written down, it's probably fixed; when you have to inquire about the price, it's negotiable.In shops where foreign c
Delhi is a shopping center for goods from all over India, making it the best place to stock up on gifts and souvenirs. Bargaining is often appropriate—and almost mandatory. A good rule of thumb: When the price is written down, it's probably fixed; when you have to inqui
Delhi is a shopping center for goods from all over India, making it the best place to stock up on gifts and souvenirs. B

Delhi is a shopping center for goods from all over India, making it the best place to stock up on gifts and souvenirs. Bargaining is often appropriate—and almost mandatory. A good rule of thumb: When the price is written down, it's probably fixed; when you have to inquire about the price, it's negotiable.

In shops where foreign customers are uncommon, the staff is likely to follow your every move with great interest. If this bothers you, simply state your objective or emphasize that you're just looking; they'll cooperate if you indicate nicely that you don't need to be followed around.

Old Delhi is an endlessly interesting place to shop, admittedly more for the experience than for what you'll take away. The sidewalks of Chandni Chowk are lined with clocks, baby clothes, tacky toys, blankets, and much more; the shops on Dariba Kalan are filled with silver and gold jewelry. Stalls behind the Jama Masjid sell metalware and utensils, and one street specializes in stationery, especially Indian wedding invitations. Kinari Bazaar glistens with Hindu wedding paraphernalia. Khari Baoli, west of Chandni Chowk toward Lahori Gate, is renowned for its wholesale nuts, spices, and Indian pickles and chutneys.

India has one of the world's foremost Oriental-rug industries, and there are carpet vendors all over Delhi. Unfortunately, carpet sellers are a notoriously dishonest crowd. In addition to being obnoxiously pushy, they are likely to sell you inauthentic merchandise at colossally inflated prices and then deny it later. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they tend to sell out of their homes rather than upscale showrooms—so call before you go.

Clothes shopping is one of Delhi's great pleasures. Khadi, the hand-spun, hand-woven cotton that Gandhi turned into a nationalist symbol during the Independence movement, has made a roaring comeback and is now worn by many Delhi women during the long, hot summer. You can experience khadi in a salwar-kameez—the classic North Indian ensemble of long tunic and loose pants, also popular in a variation called the kurta-churidar—and in Western-style tops and skirts. Some Indian fabrics can fade or bleed easily, so it's always a good idea to wash clothes first before wearing.

If you find yourself shopping for a sari, savor the experience of learning about this amazing handicraft. Silks and attractive cotton saris are sometimes sold at Dilli Haat market, depending on which vendors have set up shop that week. Silks are sold en masse at upscale stores in South Extension, Greater Kailash I, and Connaught Place, but the highest thumbs-up go to Kalpana and Padakkam.

For crafts and curios, Delhi's fixed-price government emporiums near Connaught Place offer good values to travelers with limited time. They're also conveniently open seven days a week. The best market for fine curios and antiques is in the exclusive leafy neighborhood of Sundar Nagar. In addition to the shops listed here, a few shops on the southern (right-hand) side of the market have collections of old optical instruments.

Jewelry is another popular item on visitors' shopping lists. India consumes more gold annually than any other country in the world, mainly because gold is an essential part of a bride's trousseau. With Delhi's upper middle class spending ever more money, and now chasing such Western fancies as diamonds and platinum, jewelry is big business here. The flashiest jewelry stores are clustered in South Extension, Greater Kailash I, and Connaught Place, offset by a handful of older shops in Sundar Nagar. Indian gold is 22-karat, and some Westerners tend to find its bright-yellow tone a bit too flashy. For a gold Indian piece in a subtler antique style, stroll through the market in Sundar Nagar. Hit the glitzier stores for the princess look. Indian jewelers as a group have been accused of adulterating their gold, but alas, you as a consumer will have no way to determine the content of each piece. Old Delhi is packed with jewelry and curio shops, though you have to search harder for fine designs. Stroll Dariba Kalan for the best selection of silver and gold.

As the center of India's English-language publishing industry, and, arguably, India's intellectual capital, Delhi has something of a literary scene. For those with hard currency, Indian books are great bargains, including lower-price local editions of titles published abroad. If you'll be in Delhi for a while, hunt down the elusive but excellent Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks, by Gaynor Barton and Laurraine Malone (New Delhi: Rupa, 1997)—these painstakingly detailed routes are fascinating and manageable. The top hotels have small bookshops, but Khan Market has several of the capital's best.

South Delhi is best for discriminating music lovers.

Most shops are open six days a week, as each neighborhood's market area closes one day a week, usually Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. Most shops in Old Delhi are closed on Sunday.

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  • 1. Dilli Haat

    South Delhi | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    This government-run food and crafts bazaar invites artisans from all over the country to sell their wares directly. More than 60 do so at any...Read More

    View Tours and Activities
  • 2. Mittal Tea House

    Central Delhi | Food/Candy

    Stuffed to the ceiling with Indian teas, herbs, and spices, this tea house has a charming owner, Vikram Mittal, who will tell you everything...Read More

  • 3. Asia Tea House

    Central Delhi | Food/Candy

    Next door to Mittal, Asia Tea House sells fine teas and tea paraphernalia. ...Read More

  • 4. Bahri Sons

    Central Delhi | Books/Stationery

    This place is stuffed to the ceiling with dusty nonfiction, particularly academic history, politics, and Indian heritage, as welll as a good...Read More

  • 5. Banaras House

    Central Delhi | Clothing

    This store sells the rich brocaded silks of Varanasi. ...Read More

  • 6. Bharany's

    Central Delhi | Crafts

    Specializing in jewelry, this store also sells rare old shawls and wall hangings from all over India. ...Read More

  • 7. Bharany's

    South Delhi | Jewelry/Accessories

    Traditional gold earrings and beaded necklaces in muted colors and styles are the specialty of this shop. ...Read More

  • 8. Carpet Cellar

    South Delhi | Household Items/Furniture

    This store has a vast selection; there's also a shop in Santushti. ...Read More

  • 9. Central Cottage Industries Emporium

    Central Delhi | Crafts

    Purchase crafts from all over the country at this fixed-price, government-run shop; they will ship items abroad too. Even if you don't buy anything...Read More

  • 10. CMYK

    Central Delhi | Books/Stationery

    Come here for art and design books, and perhaps one of the occasional movie screenings (check the website or drop in for a schedule). ...Read More

  • 11. Connaught Place

    Central Delhi | Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

    Open every day but Sunday from about 10 to 7:30, this is the former commercial district of the British Raj. Pillared arcades and a wheel-shaped...Read More

    View Tours and Activities
  • 12. Cottage of Arts & Jewels

    South Delhi | Crafts

    This subterranean treasure trove is a musty jumble of old prints, photos, maps, curios, and junk. ...Read More

  • 13. Cottons

    South Delhi | Clothing

    You guessed it—this store sells a variety of ethnic and Western-style cotton casuals. It's closed on Tuesday. ...Read More

  • 14. Curio Palace

    Central Delhi | Crafts

    There's an overwhelming array of silver and brass curios here, with much of the brass oxidized for an antique look. ...Read More

  • 15. Daman Choli

    South Delhi | Clothing

    Bright, tastefully decorated cotton salwar-kameez are sold here, and they have a convenient while-you-wait alteration service. ...Read More

  • 16. Dilli Haat

    South Delhi | Clothing

    This outdoor market usually has the capital's largest selection of cheap, distinctive cotton kurtas and raw salwar-kameez fabric. Designs vary...Read More

    View Tours and Activities
  • 17. Ethnic Silver

    South Delhi | Jewelry/Accessories

    Supremely elegant pieces, especially earrings, will tempt buyers here. The store is open daily until 9 pm. ...Read More

  • 18. Fabindia

    South Delhi | Household Items/Furniture

    This is a good place for cheap, attractive cotton tablecloths, placemats, bedcovers, curtains, and rugs, as well as clothing for men, women...Read More

  • 19. Fabindia

    Central Delhi | Clothing

    An India institution, this emporium is stuffed with block-printed kurtas, salwars, churidars, dupattas, Western tops, and skirts in subtle colors...Read More

  • 20. Fact and Fiction

    South Delhi | Books/Stationery

    Open since 1984, this store caters to the diplomatic community with books on international affairs, history, science, and language study. ...Read More

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