Kolkata boasts a rich variety of handcrafted creations: terracotta pottery, jute goods, intricately embroidered saris and much more. What better way to remember the city than to pick up some beautiful artisan products from the streets of Kolkata? Team TS takes you shopping.
Here are some of the wonderfully crafted souvenirs that scream Kolkata!
Terracotta Craft Goods
Kolkata is known for its exquisite terracotta art, which are perfect to add that homely, earthy touch to your aesthetic. Here you can find kitchenware, sculptures, pots and jewelry – all made of the fiery red clay that makes the best souvenirs. Terracotta crafts bear the city’s rich artistic heritage, often including scenes from local culture and mythology.
Here are some stores where you’ll get the best terracotta goods –
- Gopal Shilpalay: Barrackpore
- Purbashree Emporium: Dakshinapan market, Gariahat
- New Debalaya: Rabindra Sarani
- Srejonee Art & Creations: Debendra Chandra Dey Roadd, Tangra
Besides, there are several government-run handicraft emporiums, such as Tantuja, Manjusha, and Bangla Haat. These specialize in promoting traditional handicrafts, while also ensuring that you can buy only the authentic goods sourced directly from the artisans.
Ask a Bengali about saris, and they’ll proudly list out the different varieties of handloom saris that the region has been famous for. It’s no surprise then, that these intricately woven and beautifully designed saris are wildly popular throughout Kolkata. Some of the most loved varieties are Jamdani, Baluchari, Tangail, Dhaniakhali… like we said, the list goes on!
Here are some of the stores in the city where you can the best nine-yard deals:
- Rangmilap: Sector 1, Bidhannagar
- Vyasdev Tolaram: Triangular Park
- Byloom: Gariahat
- Kanishka: Ballygunge
- Handloom Heritage: Ballygunge
If you’re a sari hoarder, an admirer of the exquisite craftsmanship or just someone who has a thing for traditional Indian clothing, a trip to Kolkata would be incomplete without visiting a sari store. Oh, and the best part is these souvenirs are super affordable!
Kantha embroidery is treasured for the intricate designs and the rich cultural heritage it represents. It is a beautiful and meaningful art form that will definitely captivate you with its timeless appeal. You’ll be amazed by the variety of options available, from gorgeous saris and stoles to pretty bedsheets, trendy bags, and even stylish cushion covers and home decor items. Whether you’re looking to adorn yourself or spruce up your living space, Kantha embroidered items are the perfect choice as souvenirs.
These are some of the best boutiques to visit :
- Deshaj: Ballygunge
- The Kantha Store: Brahmachari Sarani
- Sundari Showrooms: Gariahat
- Kanishka: Ballygunge
Bengali Sweets, Or Mishti
Kolkata is heaven for someone with a sweet tooth, but what makes it even more special is there’s a kind of sweetmeat for everyone. Love gooey, syrupy sweets that delight your palate? You could try chhanar jilipi, shorbhaja, kalojam and pantua. Or are you one who believes ‘less is more’ when it comes to sweets? There’s shondesh, kalakand, and malai chomchom for you. No matter what your preference, the city’s got your back.
These are some of the heritage sweet shops in Kolkata you simply cannot miss!
- Bhim Chandra Nag: Barabazar
- Makhan Lal Das: Vivekananda Road
- Nalin Chandra Das & Sons:Jorabagan
- Mithai: Ballygunge
- Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar: Shyam Bazar
There are some sweets that are more travel-friendly than the others, and don’t spoil easily. You could take back with you varieties of shondesh, including the heavenly korapaak. Some syrupy desserts like the roshogolla are available in tins as well in some of the bigger shops, making these souvenirs easier to carry.
Books From Boi Para, College Street
Books are not the only reason you should visit College Street, but they definitely top the list. If you’re a lover of literature, don’t miss out on exploring the numerous quaint bookstores scattered across College Street. This place is also known as Boi Para (literally, the locality of books) and is the largest book market in Asia.
Here you’ll find a copy of Wuthering Heights casually lying on display in a roadside book stall across the sidewalk, while stacks of more such old classics lie bundled right next to it. If you have the time and the love for books, there’s no place in the city you’d rather want to be in. Stores like Chuckervertty Chatterjee & Co, Rupa Bookstores, National Bookstore, Dasgupta and Company, and many more are a storehouse of new and second-hand books offered at heavily discounted prices.
Dokra is a traditional form of metal casting practiced by tribal artisans in West Bengal. You will surely fall in love with its rustic charm and classy finish. Dokra art is made on a range of subjects, including deities, animals, birds, and human figurines.
Here are some shops where you will find authentic and best quality Dokra artifacts-
- Biswa Bangla stores
- Pick Your Craft
Keep an eye out for crafts, fairs and art exhibitions taking place in Kolkata. Often, these events feature artisans from different regions of the state, including those who specialize in Dokra art.
Did you know the city is also renowned for its jute industry? Artisans in Kolkata extensively use jute to create a wide range of handicrafts, shoes, bags, jewelry, and home decor items. These products make your souvenir super special as they are eco-friendly and biodegradable too.
You will find a wide range of jute products like bags, rugs, wall hangings, and accessories at a very reasonable price in various stores. Most of these goods come directly from the farms to the cities.
If you want to buy authentic jute goods, head to these shops-
- Biswa Bangla: Parkstreet
- The Jute Shop: Middleton Street
- West Bengal State Handicraft Store: Dharmatala
- Refugee Handicrafts: Ballygunge
Conch Shell Bangles
These are the bangles you may have noticed married Bengali women wear. Bengalis consider these bangles as a symbol of a healthy and happy marriage. Although it is typically married women in Bengal who wear these bangles, there is nothing stopping you from getting conch shell bangles for yourself! Their beauty is irresisitible, and they make for excellent souvenirs. You’ll find these bangles in any jewelry shop. Don’t forget to channel your inner negotiator to get the best deals!
If you’re falling in love with the city and all that it has to offer, read here what a Calcuttan had to say about the city she calls home.
Research: Sanhati Saha
Edited by: Ronjinee Chattopadhyay