India is as diverse a country as a nation can possibly get. Multiple languages, religions, traditions, and cultures form the framework of the world's largest democracy, merging to create a remarkable destination that any traveler is bound to find breathtaking and surprising.
As a result, returning from India with a souvenir is never an issue. The only point to ponder is how many different types of exclusive items can you possibly carry in your luggage.
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12 Essential Souvenirs You Should Bring Back from India
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Indian spices are well-known the world over for their robust and fragrant character that elevates any dish. Most cities will have a small market from where you can get a variety of these culinary enhancers. Still, there's no replacing the vintage charm of Delhi's legendary spice market, Khari Baoli. Not only is Khari Baoli the largest of its kind in Asia, but also the ideal place to find the entire range of Indian spices such as cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, tamarind and cardamom.
Carpets and Shawls
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Kashmiri carpets and shawls are amongst the best you'll find in the entire world. Intricately designed and souvenirs with a purpose, they can easily add color and elegance to your home or wardrobe. Cheaper machine-made options of carpets and shawls are available, but it's worth spending a little extra for the handmade versions that are in a league of their own.
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Age-old craftsmanship takes on a distinct look through jewelry found in several parts of India. If the expensive gold and diamond selections are not your cup of tea, pick up some 'junk jewelry,' perfect for budget travelers to take back home as gifts. These jewelry items carry forward the traditional Indian designs but are made using cheaper elements, and are often sold in street markets for bargain prices.
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In case you fell in love with the zesty and tangy nature of Indian food, the best way to take back the taste is through the range of pickles sold throughout the country. Indian pickles are ideal for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians with cauliflower and carrot, mango, prawn, chili, and lemon pickles being local favorites.
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Graceful and alluring, the traditional Indian saree looks exotic and is guaranteed to be a showstopper whenever and wherever you decide to wear it. Just like the many regions of the country, sarees are of different types. Available in various colors, prints, and styles, choose between a Kanjeevaram from Tamil Nadu, Sonepuri silk from Odisha, Bandhani from Gujarat, or the iconic Banarsi from Varanasi for that perfect souvenir to take back from India. Do remember that wearing a saree can be a little complicated for first timers, so make sure you practice a few times and get the hang of it before leaving the country.
Brass and Copper Artefacts
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As far as functional and decorative souvenirs go, India produces a variety of brass and copper objects that not only look good on a mantle but can be handy in your kitchen and living room too. From decorations such as idols of Indian goddesses and candle stands to copper glasses that help keep water safe from bacteria, there's a lot you can take home and use in your daily life.
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India is amongst the world's leading tea-producing nations. Darjeeling tea, especially, is bound to be a gratifying reminder of all the wonderful time you've spent in the country. While there are numerous other options available, do pick up some Indian tulsi and organic tea, both of which are gaining fame for their freshness and health benefits.
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India has a thriving art scene. For souvenirs, it's possible to go one of two ways. A popular choice with tourists is to select traditional paintings, found in handicraft markets, that showcase the heritage and history of the country. Madhubani, Kalamkari, and Warli are but a few of the regional paintings that are diverse in their quality and would undoubtedly make for a conversational piece in your living room. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the contemporary painters of India who are challenging the boundaries of classic artistic expression. The best place to pick up such art is at one of the few leading modern art galleries found in Delhi and Mumbai.
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You'll find the sweet and floral smell of incense burning no matter where in India you travel. Mostly a part of religious offerings, incense forms an integral part of daily Indian life. A growing consciousness towards the environment has led to an abundance of smokeless incense sticks in the market. As a result, they are a rejuvenating souvenir to take back that promises you are refreshingly fragrant home for days on end.
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Indian wine is yet to make a splash on an international stage. However, producers such as Sula and Grover make some of the best wines you'll find in all of Asia. Unique, rich, and the perfect gift for any wine lover, a few bottles of these wines will complement any Indian dish you'll recreate after reaching home.
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A stop in Agra to view the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, is a given when exploring India. While you can't bring the whole taj back, you can pick up some of the many marble inlay objects that are a specialty of the region. Ranging in size, they can be something small like a jewelry box or else a beautiful tabletop. The prices depend on the inlay and design, with elaborate creations made using semi-precious stones costing a fair amount.
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It might be the most unorthodox souvenir you take back from India, but yoga is synonymous with the spiritual nature of the country. A non-physical gift, spend a little time learning the basics of yoga and meditation when traveling through India. Then, go back and teach it to your friends and family as a way to help them release tension and work towards mindfulness, something that most of us need these days desperately.
Depending on where in India you travel, you'll find some of the above souvenirs with ease. However, in terms of handicrafts, each province has something inimitable to offer that is exclusive and region-specific. In the end, these are the little knick-knacks that will ultimately leave all your friends and family in awe of your Indian vacation.