Shop chop

Gaytri Singh Rathore
You'll feel compelled to empty your wallet in Jaipur

No other city in India will give you the sort of experience of shopping for traditional items and handicrafts that Jaipur offers. The city's close relationship with the Mughals led to a lot of artisans from all over making this region their working base. Today you'll find markets with wholesale and retail shops named after the products sold there, like the famous Johari Bazaar (jeweller's market), Choori Bazaar (bangle market), Murtikar ki Galli (sculptor's street), and Katla, a cloth market.

Walking past the rows of shops and looking at all that variety can be overwhelming, so here's a guide to where to shop in Jaipur.

Johari Bazaar is the gem capital of the country. You can bring all kinds of precious stones from around the world and get them embedded in silver or gold for your size here, or buy the jewellery made here. Motison Jewellers is a good place for gold sets and kundan jewellery (an old style of gem-setting popular with Rajasthan royalty). JKJ Jewellers deals with polki jewellery (uncut diamonds) and coloured precious stones embedded in gold. Also try Gem Palace, on MI Road, and Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas or BG Jewellers.

For bargain shopping, head to the shops in front of Hawa Mahal. The quality of metals they use may sometimes be questionable, but you can bargain a lot, bringing down the price of a piece from Rs 500 to Rs 100 if you persist.

If you turn into Gopaji Ka Rasta and Haldiyon Ka Rasta, you will see a number of old jewellers sitting on their gaddis (cushioned seats) making and selling jewellery. You won't get established brand names here but the jewellery is very good nonetheless. Always ask for certifications of the gems.

Tie-and-dye and block prints are popular in Jaipur. The majority of the printing is done in Sanganer and Bagru villages, about 20km from the heart of Jaipur, but you'll find these being sold anywhere you go in town. Some interesting locations in the old city are the Katla market near Badi Chaupar (for wholesale and cheap good-quality fabrics), the Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar.

Anokhi and Soma, now household names in India for their exquisite Jaipuri garments, have their origins here. The Anokhi store in Jaipur, on Prithiviraj Road, has clothes, table and bed linen, and accessories. It also has a museum in Amer Fort dedicated to hand-printing and Jaipur's rich garment-making tradition. Soma, on Jacob Road in Civil Lines, also has quality clothes, fabrics, linen and accessories. Hot Pink, in Narain Niwas Hotel, and Nayika, on MI Road, are designer boutiques that sell clothes and linen. There are emporiums selling Jaipur textiles on Amer road, outside Zorawar Singh gate. However, beware the shopping commission nexus in this area.

Rajasthali is a government-run emporium on MI Road selling a wide array of handicrafts, including textiles. For traditional bridal wear, try Aari Taari in Johari Bazaar and for saris Rana's in Ganpati Plaza, MI Road. You could also check out the row of wholesale and retail shops selling saris in Johari Bazaar. For bargain textile shopping head to Badi Chaupar at the end of Johari Bazaar, where a host of wholesale and retail dealers will try to catch your attention with competitive prices. Udaylal Laxman Lal Jain and Prem Chand Sant Kumar are two established names. You could also venture out to Hawa Mahal and try Jagdish Narain and Ganpat Lal Suraj Mal.

Jaipur is also known for its lightweight cotton quilts, which are available in the Hawa Mahal area, Bapu Bazaar and the Chaura Rasta.

Blue pottery, though Persian in origin, is now synonymous with Jaipur, where it is made by mixing a variety of materials and then glazing on a low fire. Kripal Singh Shekhawat, who runs the Kripal Kumbh, in Bani Park and Leela Bordia, who launched Neerja, the pottery brand, have been felicitated with many national and international awards. For cheaper options, go to Zorawar Singh Gate, where many artisans sell their wares in different tourist shops. You must bargain here. Also visit the Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Centre.

Jootis, also popularly known as mojris, are shoes made of soft camel leather, worn by rural and urban folk in Rajasthan. While they are a necessity in the villages, in cities today these are fashion accessories.

The best place to get these will be in Bapu Bazaar, near the Hawa Mahal area. If you'd like to go to retail stores, try Mojari at Shiv Heera Path, Chomu House C-Scheme, Bhati Jooti Centre on MI Road, and the Jaipur Jooti Kendra in Tripolia Bazaar in the old city.

If you love bangles, Jaipur is the place to indulge yourself. Walk through Maniharon Ka Rasta, a lane lined with shops selling different kind of bangles, mostly those made of lac. There are lots of bangle shops in the Hawa Mahal corner of Badi Chaupar too.

Jaipur is a big exporter of handmade paper products and you'll get lots of paper items, like diaries, cards, envelopes and photo frames, at most tourist shops near Hawa Mahal, in Bapu Bazaar, Nehru Bazaar and the Johari Bazaar areas.

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