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    : 2252     :  September 1, 2022, 9:54 am     : countrysidekashmir

Majestic Chinar trees, lush green hillsides and the mesmerising sounds of the Santoor  all transport you instantly to the Kashmir of the sixties and the seventies. Back then, no self-respecting Hindi movie could afford to miss shooting a romantic song in Kashmir; newly married couples aspired for a Kashmir honeymoon; and the rich and famous holidayed here. But then came the eighties and political discord resulted in Kashmir slipping off the tourism radar. A thing of the past, I tell you! Because all that flying fur has settled down to a great extent and it is once again time to get away from the summer heat and plan a trip to Kashmir. To add to this is interesting shopping in Kashmir. Yes! Kashmir is indeed a popular shopping destination because of the array of items available that are unique to this region. Not only could you shop, markets in Kashmir proffer local delicacies which are readily available so you can shop and munch at the same time.  

With regular flights to Srinagar and safe bus journeys that give you more of Kashmir per eye-blink, the valley is once again sizzling on the holiday makers most wanted charts. Yes, you need to be careful and yes, you must keep the eyes and ears working full time while here, but don't let that stop you from sampling the spoils of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Visit the temples and dargahs, go skiing and trekking, laze around on a houseboat for an entire day and shop!


Shopping beyond Pashminas

Kashmirs Pashmina shawls and stoles have captured the hearts of thousands of shoppers but you could come back with so much more. There are walnut wood carvings, paper“maché knick knacks and the alluring red Kashmiri chillies ât“the staple shopping cart of every tourist. Read on to find out some not so staple items that you should hunt for in the city:

  1. Buy vintage maps of Kashmir
  2. Be a Chai Shoda“ Kashmiri for ˜tea addict; bring back special green tea leaves that result in the special Kashmiri salted pink tea or Noon Chai. You can get them easily at most grocery stores
  3. Of course you’re going to buy a Kashmiri hand woven carpet or a Namda, but also let your roving eye rest on Kashmiri crewel-work wall hangings and rugs
  4. Buy antique copper ware like samovars and trays (you need to find a sturdy guide who can take you to the Old City; don't venture to this area by yourself)
  5. Take back some willow baskets; definitely not your everyday shopping bag
  6. You've seen them at every handicraft expo you've been to, but this time, get the real thing  Kashmiri Lac ornaments. Go wild with necklaces, bracelets and hairpins
  7. A great take-back would be old photographs and some Kashmiri art
  8. Heat it up with spices – Other than the Kashmiri red chillies, you must take back saffron. Kashmir is one of the few places in the world that grows saffron and you will have to travel to a saffron farm near Pampore Fields, a few miles out of Srinagar to get it (with the help of a certified guide only!)
  9. If you’re travelling back home by air, make a stop at a local bakery or Kandur Wan for some delicious Lavaasa, Girdas and Kulchas. You're going to be very popular back home!
  10. The local tweed is cut and tailored into the beautiful long garment called a Ferin  you'd be spoiled rotten for choice but dont come back without at least one piece to keep you warm in the cold winters.
  11. If you are in the mood to splurge, bank upon a piece of jewellery encrusted with the Doda Sapphire found only in Kashmir
  12. Do visit the floating markets on the dal lake and watch as locals haggle for everyday objects while their boats remain afloat on water.
  13. You could visit the Tibetan market in Leh and buy a famous Thangka Painting.
  14. Go to Lal Chowk or Badshah chowk to procure articles amde of Walnut wood, carved to perfection.
  15. Dont forget to buy a Shahtoosh shawl when in Kashmir!

Things to Remember

There are interesting handicrafts shops and bazaars spread across the state where you can pick up beautiful collectibles. However, stick to tourist-heavy places for shopping if you are alone. However, if you do want to venture out to the Old City, do so only with the help of a certified guide and a vehicle recommended by the J&K Tourism Department. Go to Maharaja Bazaar and Kokar Bazaar for spices and the main market area for Kashmiri embroidery objects. Enjoy the delightful markets as you roam around and explore the variety offered by the region. However, don't leave your hotel at odd hours and without proper identification. Finally, know that tourists are some of the safest people in Kashmir today they're the backbone of the ares economy! So enjoy your time and do share your experience with us.