Before I embarked on my voyage to India—a whirlwind trip to Mumbai, Udaipur, Agra, Chandigarh, and Delhi—an editor I work with gave me a piece of sage advice: Bring a half empty suitcase and go shopping. Now, I’m not really into shopping based on specific trends or brands, but shopping in India has nothing to do with that. Don’t get me wrong, you can find luxury designers like Gucci, but why would you want to? India has a wealth of gorgeous traditional items made by insanely skilled artisans. I was happy I listened to that editor and left plenty of room in my suitcase. Here are five items you should bring home and where to find them.
Rajasthan—aka the land of kings—is India’s gem capital, so you can find lots of unique and beautiful jewelry here. At Gem Arts Emporium in Udaipur (known as the city of lakes), pieces range the gamut from Western-style necklaces to those gold bell-shaped earrings you see actresses wearing in Bollywood films. I bought a dramatic silver necklace made of small interlocking flower-shaped pieces with teardrop beads hanging off the ends, and people always ask me where I got it. For something more affordable, pick up colorful, papier-mâché bangles and cuffs hand-painted with intricate designs for just $5 to $10 at Tijori, the boutique found inside Oberoi Hotels.