With its artisan heritage and love of all things traditional, Kolkata is a shopping paradise. From sarees to sweets and books to bangles, you’ll find plenty to bring back from this vibrant city. Let’s go shopping!
By Sanhati Saha
Kolkata is known for its exquisite terracotta art. You can find a variety of terracotta items like kitchenware, wall hangings, pottery, sculpture, and jewellery which showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage beautifully and scenes from local culture and mythology. Here are some stores where you’ll get the best terracotta items-
- Gopal Shilpalay: Barrackpore
- Purbashree Emporium: Dakshinapan market, Gariahat
- New Debalaya: Rabindra Sarani
- Srejonee Art & Creations: Debendra Chandra Dey Rd, Tangra
There are several government-run handicraft emporiums, such as Tantuja, Manjusha, and Bangla Haat. These emporiums specialize in promoting traditional handicrafts and offer you a diverse range of terracotta items. These emporiums ensure that you are purchasing authentic products directly from the artisans.
Kolkata sarees are cherished for their traditional charm, elegant designs, and comfortable materials. They are an integral part of Bengali culture and continue to be popular among women not only in Kolkata but also across India and internationally. Kolkata sarees make excellent souvenirs, especially for women who appreciate traditional Indian clothing and have an affinity for the rich cultural heritage of Kolkata. Handloom sarees are one of Kolkata’s top Souvenirs. They are quite popular here, particularly the famous Baluchari and Jamdani sarees. You’ll surely fall in love with their intricate weaving and exquisite designs.
- Rangmilap: Sector 1, Bidhannagar
- Vyasdev Tolaram: Triangular Park
- Byloom: Gariahat
- Kanishka: Ballygunge
- Handloom Heritage: Ballygunge
You won’t feel like you’re burning a hole in your wallet when you shop in these saree stores. If you skip these saree stores in Kolkata, your trip to this city won’t be completed.
Kantha embroidery is treasured for its exquisite craftsmanship, intricate designs, and the cultural heritage it represents. It is a beautiful and meaningful art form that continues to captivate people with its timeless appeal. You’ll be amazed by the variety of options available, from gorgeous sarees and stoles to cosy bedsheets, trendy bags, and even stylish cushion covers and home décor items. Whether you’re looking to adorn yourself or spruce up your living space, Kantha embroidered items are the perfect choice. Boutiques that offer a wide range of Kantha embroidered items are-
- Deshaj: Ballygunge
- The Kantha Store: Brahmachari Sarani
- Sundari Showrooms: Gariahat
- Kanishka: Ballygunge
When visiting these boutiques, you can explore a variety of Kantha embroidered products, each with its own unique designs, colour combinations, and styles.
Traditional Bengali Sweets
Kolkata is a paradise for sweet lovers. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in mouthwatering Bengali sweets like sandesh, mishti doi, chanar jilipi, chomchom, kheer kadam and rosogolla. You can try a variety of sandesh as they are dry and hence easy to pack and carry. You must visit the following sweet shops that have been serving delectable sweets for generations:
- Bhim Chandra Nag: Barabazar
- Makhan Lal Das: Vivekananda Road
- Nalin Chandra Das & Sons:Jorabagan
- Mithai: Ballygunge
- Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar: Shyam Bazar
These heritage sweet shops have played an integral role in Kolkata’s culinary history and continue to delight locals and visitors with their delicious and authentic Bengali sweets.
Books from the Boi Para (College Street)
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 which is the largest book market in Asia and of course the first in India. It is home to numerous bookstores and stalls where you can find a wide variety of books, including rare editions and academic texts. All the bookstores are adorned with rare hard-to-find editions, making it a paradise for bibliophiles and collectors. The ambience of the bookshops exudes a sense of nostalgia with their old-world charm, wooden shelves and the intoxicating scent of ageing papers. If you’re a seeker of literary treasures, a visit to College Street is a must.
Dokra is a traditional form of metal casting practised by tribal artisans in West Bengal. You will surely fall in love with its rustic charm and indeed this is one of the unique souvenirs of Kolkata. They depict a range of subjects, including deities, animals, birds, and human figurines. Kolkata is a great place to buy Dokra artefacts such as figurines, jewellery, and home décor items. Dokra pieces are very unique, take your time and explore different designs and styles to find the one that resonates with your style. 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 exhibitions taking place in Kolkata. These events often feature artisans and crafts persons from different regions, including those who specialize in Dokra art.
Did you know Kolkata is also renowned for its jute industry and is a significant centre for jute handicrafts in India? Artisans in Kolkata extensively use jute to create a wide range of handicrafts, shoes, bags, jewellery, and home décor 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 very reasonable prices in various stores. The majority of these goods come directly from the farms to the cities and play a significant role in sustaining the livelihood of villagers. 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 red and white bangles you must have noticed married women wearing in Bengal. We Bengalis consider these bangles as a representation of a healthy, happy marriage. Did you know that locals think a couple’s bond would become stronger if their wedding bangles don’t break within the first year of marriage? Although married women in Bengal wear these bangles, there is no rule prohibiting you from purchasing conch bangles for yourself. Besides their cultural and religious significance, these bangles are stunning and make excellent gifts. You’ll find conch shell bangles in any jewellery shop. Don’t forget to channel your inner negotiator to get the best deals!
Whether it’s exploring the city’s historical bazaars or discovering contemporary malls, Kolkata presents a delightful shopping paradise and unique souvenirs that captivate both locals and tourists alike.
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