Apart from it’s scenic beauty, gorgeous mountain peaks and a refreshing retreat from the maddening city life- Darjeeling can a be treasure trove for those- who find retail therapy extremely soothing for the soul.
But remember one thing, you need to really bargain very hard in order to slash the prices, when it comes to local shops or flee markets in Darjeeling.
In case of more refined items from reputed shops, the prices are fixed. But don’t worry, as you can be quite sure about the quality of the products.
If you love swanky malls, air-conditioned stores or glamorous sales assistant to guide you through your dream-buy, then you may feel slight disappointment, as there are no such things here.
Though Darjeeling has it’s own Big Bazar but who cares to shop from there when you have wonderful traditional gift items that bear the detailed and efficient craftsmanship, rich heritage and local essence?
Below is the list of five items that you should pick-up during your stay at Darjeeling
Leaving Darjeeling without buying any of the varieties of wonderful Darjeeling tea -is a sacrilege in itself. Darjeeling tea is world famous for it’s subtle aroma and refined taste. There are many famous tea gardens in Darjeeling who sell tea in their own outlets- most of them are situated around Chowrasta.
There are also many local shops that sell tea at a cheaper price, but if you don’t want to compromise with the quality, then head for Nathmull’s.
A legendary teashop that became a household name among Bengalis as Satyajit Ray’s fictionalized sleuth Feluda (the hero of Ray’s detective series)- used to have hot flush from Nathmull’s daily.
You will find over 50 varieties of tea in here. Price ranges between Rs.80 to as up as Rs.2000, depending upon the quantity and standard of the tea. At Nathmull’s, you can have even a tea-tasting season with experts.
Darjeeling teahouse and Goodricke, the house of tea- are another two good options to buy out flavored tea.
2 Tibetan artifacts
Next to tea, Tibetan and local artifacts should come to your shopping list to get ticked off. There are many local shops or temporary stalls in flea market that sell thangkas (Tibetan scroll painting), traditional masks, laughing Buddha, prayer wheel etc., – that look too nice to resist. But be sure to bargain well or you will be charged with double the price.
Dorjee Himalayan Artifacts is a little treasure trove when it comes to buying Tibetan and oriental artifacts.
Ava art gallery is another great place on the way to Ghoom, to pick up authentic Tibetan art pieces.
3 Local knick knacks
Locally made knick-knacks like woolen garments, Tibetan carpets, bags, leather goods or even organic honey- all of them are to tempting to ignore and Darjeeling has plenty of shops to sell them.
If you love shopping and want to boost local economy by buying products of cottage industry, then go for Life and Leaf fair trade shop- they support local artisans as well as recycling.
Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre is another interesting place that produces gorgeous home-décor items and even provides shipment facility.
4 Photos of mountains and the city
From cute picture postcards about Darjeeling and it’s colorful life, to rare photographs related to olden days of colonial era in the city, and Himalayas- you should collect one or two photographs as souvenirs. And Das studio, situated at mall road- is the best place to do that. It has a vast collection of posters, cards; photographs- all related to mountain, it’s people and the city.
For any bibliophile, the charm of a tourist spot increases manifold, if it has some good bookshops. In Darjeeling, Oxford Book and Stationery Company will just do that for you. Doing business over years at the prime location of Chowrasta, this bookshop is famous for it’s great collection of books related to Himalayas, travel guides, tales on mountaineering etc.
Remember that the above guidelines are just brief ideas about the shopping-scenario of Darjeeling. It’s up to you to do your own homework, hunt down tiny shops selling authentic articles, negotiate effectively and then feel like a triumphant shopper at the end.
On an offnote ! If you are also planning to visit Sikkim from Darjeeling do not forget to read our article about what to shop in Sikkim and where to find them ?