|Know your Cotton
|Books and Music
|Know your Silk
|Cane & Bamboo
|Know Your Jewellery
|Pottery Style in Use
|From Spies to Coir
|Shopping in India
Sharpen your bargaining skills:-
Read about India before leaving. This will give a better
understanding of its social milieu;
-- Check with your hotel about shopping hours and closing days before you set out to shop;
-- India does not have a culture of large super markets and department stores;
-- Major cities have government emporiums with fixed prices and quality goods. They may sometimes be a bit more expensive than roadside shops but are reliable;
-- Every city has a local bazaar. Bargaining is routine. Compare prices before bargaining for an item. You could start your research at the fixed-price government emporiums;
-- Establish goodwill. Never insult the merchant. Let the seller (shopkeeper) make the first offer;
-- Using odd numbers such as Rs. 530 for example, may lead the merchant to think you are a seasoned haggler;
--Start with a 40% discount from the asking price. Your next offer should be 35%. The seller will probably counter with a 20% discount.
Books and Music India is the perfect place to pick up good quality fiction, coffee table and college books at almost 40 percent less than prices in the West. There are some interesting cassettes and CDs available on Indian classical music in Planet M and Music World stores present in major cities.
Carpets of silk and cotton have been popular exports dating back centuries. Even today, plush silk carpets, perfected under Mughal design sensibilities, are great take-aways. Fine knotted cotton durries as well as sturdy rugs and Islamic prayer rugs or kilims from Rajasthan are good value for money.
Lightweight durries (floor coverings) are available in numerous styles. The states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan (woollen durries), Uttar Pradesh (geometrical patterns) and Tamil Nadu (stylized patterns) are important weaving centers. Pile carpets were introduced from Iran to Kashmir in the 15th century. Here carpet making follows the shawl-weaving tradition, its designs are based on Persian and central Asian styles. Kashmir is also known for other types of floor coverings, known as the Namdas, Hook rugs and Gabbas. Namdas are made of felted wool and cotton and are embroidered with woollen chain stitches. The hook rug is made with chain stitch embroidery worked with a hook called ahri. A thick jute cloth is embroidered fully so that the base material is not visible. The Gabba is an appliquÃ© done on worn-out woollen blankets.
Carpets produced in Agra and Amritsar have fine quality patterns on a red, ivory, green and black background. Jaipur in Rajasthan produces quality carpets, which vary from 80 knots to 120 knots per square inch. Most of them have geometrical patterns. Mirzapur and Bhadoi also make quality carpet varieties. Andhra Pradesh produces geometrical patterned carpets of quality of around 30 to 60 knots per square inch.
Know Your Silk
By Air - Nearest Airport is Jaipur ( 240 km ).
By Rail - Kota is well connected by rail with all major cities in the state and outside.
By Road - Kota is linked with Ajmer (6 hours), Chittorgarh (6 hours), Jaipur (6 hours), Udaipur (6 hours), Jodhpur (11 hours) and Bikaner (12 hours) by road.
Know Your Cotton
Jamdanis are amongst the most exclusive of muslins. These muslins have lyrical names like Shabnam (evening dew), Malmal Khas (muslin reserved for kings) and Abrawan (flowing water). The base fabric for Jamdanis is unbleached cotton yarn and the design is woven using bleached cotton yarns so that a shadow effect is created.
Venkatagiris are saris of the Jamdani technique with stylized motifs woven in half cotton and half gold threads. Ikat saris from Karnataka and the Narayanpet textiles from Andhra Pradesh are sought-after cotton textiles. Gadwal and Wanaparti produce materials of thick cotton, mostly in checks with a contrasting silk border and pallu worked in gold. Nander is famous for its fine quality cotton saris richly worked in gold thread with silk border.
Bandhani materials are made using resist- dyeing techniques popularly known as 'Tie and Dye'. These patterns are commonly seen on long scarves (chunnis), saris and turbans. The state of Gujarat and the princely land of Rajasthan have long been famous for practising this style. Kalamkari - The Coromandel Coast of India has been the source of some of the most beautiful floral-designed cotton fabrics using brushes or pens. This painted cloth of Southeast India had been known as "Pintado" by the Portuguese and "Chintz" by the English
Jewellery Different regions of India have jewellery traditions and styles unique to them. Popular styles that have passed on for centuries include fine filigree work in silver from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the art of enamelling or Meenakari from Jaipur, temple jewellery from Nagercoil and Kundan or the setting of semi-precious or precious stones in gold from Delhi. Every metro has a gold bazaar. A walk across Zaveri bazaar in Mumbai, for instance, will give an idea of India's contemporary and classic jewellery-traditions. Chaste silver and gold, as well as precious stones, are great value for money in India. The emphasis is on heavy detailing. There are many jewellery centres specializing in local styles. In northern India, the best work can be found in Jaipur, Kutch, Bikaner and Murshidabad.For a more contemporary look, try a Kutchikaam bangle or anklet - the chunky embossed silver of Gujarat. You can also do the rounds of flea markets and walk away with 'duplicate' Meenakari enamelled necklaces, ornate gem studded armbands and genuine glass bangles in eye-catching colours and designs.
Meenakari and Kundan are styles from Jaipur and Delhi influenced by the Mughals. The jewellery can be worn on both sides. The temple jewellery of Nagercoil has traditional gold ornaments studded with red and green semi-precious stones.
In Assam, soft 24 carat gold is fashioned into earrings and necklaces modelled on local flora and fauna for instance, earrings resembling the orchid. In Nagaland, gold is used to craft imitations of the human head and long funnel shaped beads are used in combination with shells, animal claws and teeth and precious and semi-precious stones.
The designs in solid gold jewellery of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are inspired by nature. Silversmiths of Himachal Pradesh craft large delicate and intricate ornaments. Head-dresses called chak, long earnngs and large nose-rings with peepal leaf or bird motifs are the specialties of the region. In Ladakh, silver charm boxes and head-dresses called perak with rows of turquoise, cornelian, coral and agate stitched onto it, are a common sight.
Know your jewellery
Colour varies with the stone. Generally a stone with a uniform and deep colour is of greater value. Carat is a measure of the purity of gold, whereas carat indicates the weight of a gemstone. Natural stones are formed by nature and are scarce. If a stone is flawless, it might be synthetic. Simulated stones are the cheapest of all. In these, the optical properties closely resemble the real gem, but the chemical properties are different. A jeweller would easily know the difference. An example is a spinal or zircon versus a diamond.
Imitation stones may be made of glass or plastic, or may be composite stones consisting of a thin slice of the gem material beneath (doublet) or between (triplet) other material of no value. Natural pearls are rare. Cultured pearls are formed in exactly the same way as natural pearls, with the difference being that man has deliberately inserted an "irritant" (small bead) into oysters. Simulated pearls look like the real thing, many of them are plastic! A gemstone should have visual beauty, durability, and rarity. Some of India's designers now rub shoulders with the best names of Paris catwalks.
Names like Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Ravi Bajaj, Suneet Verma, Jatin Kochar, and Tarun Tehliani are the ones to look for.
Healing Gems The Navaratna or the necklace of nine gems is an exquisite piece of jewellery. The Navaratna consists of diamond, ruby, emerald, coral, pearl, sapphire, garnet, topaz and the cat's eye. This combination of gems is considered highly auspicious and protection against disease for the wearer. According to astrology, the planets watch over each gem to give it their potency. Ruby gives energy. Emerald is an antidote for all stomach complaints. Coral helps the memory, pearls are good for the heart, sapphire for enlightenment. Topaz is said to bring wealth and the cat's eye, strength.