Shopping in Gujarat
is a land of rich and vibrant culture and
this has been amply reflected in its handicrafts. Therefore, if you are on a visit to the
state, do not forget to pick up few of them. They come in all price range.
It is true that
the Patola saaris made in Gujarat is highly expensive, but there are many
other affordable but pretty items that one can easily pick up as souvenirs. However, we will
start our tour with Bandhni work, which is also famous as ‘tie and dye’.
Shopping for Tie and Dye Materials in Gujarat
It is widely believed that the art of tie and dye originated in Gujarat
around the city of Wadhwan. It is also believed the art was first invented by the Brahmkshtriya
(Khatri) community residing in this area. Even today, a large percentage of artisans engaged
in this trade belong to this community.
Since cotton is the main crop grown in
percentage of the population earned their living by spinning and weaving. Color extracted
from natural stones lying in this region is one of the key reasons why the trade flourished
here. In those days when artisans had to depend upon natural colors to dye the fabric,
Wadhwan’s soil provided plenty of them. However, with passage of time, as colors began
to be more easily available, the art spread all over the state and also to neighboring
Rajasthan. Today, Bandhni materials are being made in all parts of Gujarat; especially in Jamnagar, Kutch, Anand
Things to Consider While Buying
Tie and Die Items
1. Different kinds of
floral as well as geometric patterns such as dots, squares and circles are used
strategically to provide a harmonized effect. Greater is the number of patters on the fabric
the more expensive it is. The price also depends on the fineness of the dots and number of
2. It is to be remembered that more colorful a piece is more
laborious and time consuming the process has been. The
Bandhni work is available in all kinds of apparels such as sarees, ghaghra, odhni, kurtas,
dresses etc. While day to day wears may be simpler with only two or three colors, wedding
outfits generally have the most intricate designs; they are also embellished with zari
3. Last, but not the least, printed materials in bandhni designs are
available all over India. Beware of them. Know that genuine bandhni materials are never
cheap. The process involves pinching and resist-tying before being put into the dye. That
way the areas under the tie remain untouched. The process is repeated for each color used
and consequently it takes a long time to make a single piece of fabric.
Shopping for Patola Sarees and Stoles in Gujarat
How is Patola Saree Made in Gujarat?
1. Making a double-ikkat patola saree involves six to seven months of hard work by
two or three weavers and such painstaking work has to be accompanied by deep concentration
and unbelievable mental calculation.
2. Unlike tie and dye, the process starts at
the pre weaving stage. Bundles of thread are first strategically knotted so as to allow the
areas under the knots to resist coloring.
3. Once the procedure is complete, the
threads are knotted differently and the process is repeated for each and every color that is
to be used in the saree. The weaving can start only after that.
Patola sarees are one of the most sought after souvenirs that the state has on offer.
The art was first invented by the weavers of the salvi caste in the region of Patan
more than 700 years ago and flourished under royal patronage.
sarees were made out of silk using the double ikkat technique. Such a technique involves a
process known as resistant dyeing and is used both to the wrap and the weft.
Today however, many weavers use the single ikkat technique. Under such a technique
resistant dyeing is applied either to the wrap or to the weft.
Although such a
process saves time and cuts cost, the end result is not as grand.
Things to Remember While Shopping for Patola Sarees
1. As we have
already said, a double ikkat patola saree takes long time and back breaking hard work to
finish; consequently, the cheapest double ikkat patola saree may cost Rs. 150,000. The
costliest may go up to Rs. 800,000. That is why, in olden days such sarees were mostly used
by the royalty.
2. Today however, more affordable patola sarees are being made
under government patronage. Such sarees are mostly made in Rajkot and Surendranagar
districts. Some of these sarees may cost as little as a few thousand rupees. It is important
that you should compare the two and know the difference.
3. Another point to
remember is that a genuine patola saree has no right or wrong side. Such sarees are wearable
on both sides.
4. The fourth point to consider is the dye used. The high end
products generally use natural color extracted from vegetables and minerals. On the other
hand, cheaper grade of sarees are made using chemical dyes.
Shopping for Zari Work in Gujarat
The zari industry of Surat is another of Gujarat’s
heritage. The art has been in practice since the Mughal days. Today, we find two principle
types of zari work being done in Gujarat. One uses real gold and silver threads
and other uses imitation variety. Needless to say, the former is priced higher.
Here too you have a wide choice. You can buy sarees, blouse pieces, turbans, caps etc made
out of or decorated with zari work. For example, kinkhab is a cloth made entirely out of
gold threads. Otherwise, you can opt for zari border weaving, embroideries done with gold or
silver thread, gold laces etc. Chalak, Salama, Kangari, Tiki, Katori are few of the
different types of zari work done in Gujarat.
Also look for Gharchola and
Panetar; these are wedding dresses and are usually decorated with intricate zari work.
Shopping for the Embroidery Works of Gujarat
Saurashtra, especially the district of Kutch, had traditionally been center of
needlework in Gujarat. The
art was excelled by the nomads living in this area. Today everything from bedspreads,
curtains, and cushion covers to ghaghra cholis and sarees are made by the artisans using
various embroidery techniques such as ari-bharat and abhala.
In Gujarat, appliqué work is
known as ari-bharat. In this art form, colored (or even printed) fabric is cut into various
patterns and then sewn into the main fabric. Using this technique, the artisans here make
beautiful sarees, kurta pieces, dress materials, ghaghras, bedspread, curtains etc. Mirror
inset work, on the other hand, is known as abhala. It is used to accentuate different types
of motifs such as flowers, plants, different geometrical shapes etc. This type of work is
generally done on dark fabrics.
Other than these two, different other embroidery
techniques have come up in different regions of Gujarat. Among them, we can mention Soof, Neran,
Kathipa, Rabari, Kharek, Mahajan, Kanbi, Ahir, Mutwa etc. These techniques are mostly
prevalent in Banaskantha, Jamnagar, Junagarh, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Kutch districts. Over the centuries,
village women in these districts have used these techniques to create beautiful ghagra
cholis, sarees, dress materials, bedspreads, quilts etc. While you are hunting for mementoes
you should always keep them in mind for they represents the very essence of rural Gujarat.
Other Things to Buy in Gujarat
Torans are the popular doorway decorations in Gujarat. They are supposed to
bring in good luck. Those made here have beautiful embroideries done on their flaps.
Then there are Pachhitpatis. These are a kind of an
embroidered frieze and are hanged from the corners to welcome visitors.
Bhitiyas are also another kind of an embroidered wall hanging found in
Gujarat. Three to five diamond shaped pieces are joined together to make a bhitiya. They are
so gorgeous that one is enough to dazzle the whole room.
Then there are Chaklas; these are square pieces of cloth
skillfully embroidered and used as covering for furniture and many other things.
Shopping for in Mata Ni Pachedi in Gujarat
Mata Ni Pachedi is a form of kalamkari painting
typical of Gujarat. In this
form of art animated images of Gods and Goddesses are created by applying natural dyes on
cotton or silk fabric with help of a bamboo pen (kalam) and hence the name
kalamkari. Literally, it means behind Mother Goddess.
Mata Ni Pachedi is a 300
years old art originating in the region of Ahmedabad. Initially, the pictures
were drawn on the walls of the temples. Later it began to be drawn on cloth and used to
build makeshift temples by nomads and also by people of lower castes who were denied entry
into main temples. The paintings always follow a narrative and are divided into seven or
nine columns. Ahmedabad and Viramgam of Kheda district can be identified as the hub for
Shopping for Beadwork in Gujarat Khambhat and Saurashtra region of Gujarat also specializes in
beadwork. The Kathi tribe of this area was the main exponent of this art form.
Traditionally, the work is done on white background. Today different kinds of wall
decorations, pot holders and torans are made using this technique.
Shopping for Jewelry in Gujarat
is also famous for its jewelries. Ornament worn by each tribe is distinct in style and
characteristics. Among the ethnic jewelries used now the most common forms are silver,
brass, agate and bead jewelry. Besides, the state has a very thriving gold and diamond
industry. In fact, Surat is known as the diamond capital of India.
Anjar, Bhuj, and Mundra in Kutch
district are still the main centre for the silver jewelry making. However, Porbandar, Jamnagar,
Surendranagar, Anand and Ahmedabad are few other places where this industry has considerable presence.
Shopping for Furnishing Materials in Gujarat
It has been already mentioned
that Gujarat produces some
exquisitely embroidered furnishing materials in the form of curtains, bedspread and cushion
covers etc. However, the collection is not limited only to that. You can also look for block
printed bed covers and table linens. Woven or kalamkari table covers and tablemats also make
functional keepsakes. You may also look for traditional floor spread such as namdas
and dhurries made in Kutch District. In Gujarat they are generally woven with camel and
goat hair. Sometimes wool and cotton are also used.
Shopping for Woodwork in Gujarat
Gujarat is also famous for its woodwork. In fact,
the state has a rich heritage in wood carving. It is not only the temples, which can boast
of intricate woodwork; one can also find beautifully engraved wooden balconies, door
frames and even wooden floors in old residential mansions.
made in Sankheda is famous all over the world both for its beauty and resilience. The place
is quite closed to Baroda (also known as Vadodara) and can be reached by two
and half hour’s drive. Minakari furniture made in Rajkot is
another item to look for. Patara of Bhavnagar, which is essentially a bridal chest decorated
with brass or silver plates, also makes interesting memento. However, you may now look for
smaller items made in the same style. Gujarati jhula or cradle is another very useful buy,
especially if you have a baby at home. cradle cloths made in this sate is also very
Surat and Kutch too has a vibrant woodwork industry. Pethapur in Gandhinagar is the
place where wooden blocks for hand printing of textiles are made. However, unless you are in
that business there is a great chance that you will bypass it. Yet, you may find it
interesting to note that the town has been a hub of block making industry for the last 300
Shopping for Terracotta Work in Gujarat Clay and terracotta items of Gujarat are another interesting
handicraft of Gujarat. You
can look for beautiful clay utensils that are still being used by villagers in the state.
Terracotta toys too make interesting keep sake. Also do not forget to look for long necked
Gora Dev who is said to the protector from all kinds of evil and is worshipped by the tribal
population in Dangs district.
Other Items to Look for in Gujarat
Gujarat has a long history of metal craft. Today,
different kinds of ornate as well as functional metal items are being made all over Gujarat. However, metal jewelry
worn by the tribal women has a distinction of their own. You can look for them in the art
emporiums located in different cities.
Also look for Tangaliya shawls made
in Surendranagr district. Pithora paintings and Virli paintings created by different tribal
groups in Gujarat may also
interest you. Today, these paintings are being collected by connoisseurs of art for their
beauty and vivacity. Since they depict the life and belief of their creator they also have a
Besides, puppets made out of cloth also make an
interesting buy. These were traditionally made puppetry shows. Today however, many buy them
just as keepsake. Gujarati embroidered shoes, locally known as jootis, are also worth
looking into. Most of them are intricately designed and some are also embellished with
mirror or bead work.
Tourists generally do not buy them, but it may not be out of
place to mention that Morvi in Gujarat is famous for its clock industry. If you
are there, you may also see if you can pick up a few interesting ones.
Shopping Destinations in Gujarat
GurjariMany are of the opinion that Ahmedabad is the best place to shop
in Gujarat. However most big cities in Gujarat have many shopping malls as well as
traditional markets where you can find all kinds of purchasable product. Besides, there are
quite a few handicraft emporiums that you may visit. Let us look into them one by one.
Shopping Malls in GujaratShopping in malls has a big advantage; they have multiple
shops under one roof. Fortunately many cities in Gujarat have a number of shopping malls
where one can shop in comfort. For example, bigger cities like Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad has many
shopping malls; some of them are truly big while some are comparatively smaller. However,
all of them offer an array of shops loaded with interesting merchandise. In addition,
smaller cities like Surat and Morvi have also taken up this culture and more and more shopping malls are
opening their doors to the buyers in Gujarat.
Markets in GujaratCities in Gujarat also have traditional markets and many people
prefer to shop in those markets instead of big malls. Indeed, if shopping in malls is
comfortable, shopping in these markets is fun. There you see array of shops loaded with
colorful goods. There you can actually feel the pulse of Gujarat. It is as much fun to
window shop in these markets as it is to buy the product.
Handicraft Emporiums in Gujarat Handicraft emporiums in Gujarat are almost like a
museum, which showcases the culture of the state. Among them Gurjari, located on Ashram Road
is a popular shopping destination. For exact location you may call them at 91-79-2324-7033
and also at 91-79-2324-1712. However, there are many more spread across the state. You
just need to keep your eyes open.