Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the city in India that everyone wants to visit! There are plenty of shopping opportunities including numerous markets, stores, and boutiques. The Bombay Store was founded in 1906 and today has numerous branches and specializes in products made in the city. Its main branch which is well worth visiting is in Sir P.M Road, Port. If you are planning to go shopping, make sure you have plenty of cash with smaller notes for shopping in the colorful markets as stallholders need to be paid in cash and you will need it for some effective bartering! If you are buying clothes, they are well worth trying on as sizes do differ.
Listed below are the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Mumbai.
1. Stock up on Indian spices
A wonderful array of spices can be found in every town and village, but in Mumbai, there are spice markets – can you imagine the lovely smells! The easiest to find is the Lalbaug near Lower Parel railway station. There are just so many lovely spices including cumin seeds, red chili powder, coriander seeds, and dry mango powder. To ensure you are buying the freshest, they can be ground for you on the spot! If you love chilies you will find a terrific array of various types both fresh and dried and with various heat intensities!
2. Enjoy local essential oils and perfumes
Both are an intrinsic part of Indian life and are used to fragrance rooms and the body as well as being used for massage treatments for health and well being. There are also various rituals that use fragrances and incense especially weddings. Many of the fragrances are made from local flowers and herbs and the perfume makers create their own fragrances using different combinations of jasmine, rose, saffron, and sandalwood – plus hundreds of others! There are a number of lovely fragrance shops on the Colaba Causeway.
3. Admire the local embroidery
Indian embroidery is a colorful work of art and has been used for centuries for decorating garments from handkerchiefs to dresses as well as gorgeous leather shoes. The local craftswomen only use natural dyes both for the cloth and the embroidery cotton. Their work is very intricate using a wide range of stitches including cross stitch, wave and Holbein and the stitches often encircle shimmering sequins and are made in golden thread. Shrujan is a not-for-profit organization that sells embroidery made by artisans in 100 local villages and pieces include purses, stoles, cushion covers, and beautiful wall hangings.
4. Get yourself some leather
India makes 10% of the world’s leather and has been tanning leather since 2500 BC. There is a wonderful range of leather products to buy -especially footwear and handbags – with decorative colored embroidery and motifs. For comfort and softness, a pair of traditional Kolhapuri chappals are a perfect investment for feet and there is a colorful range of sandals available too. Leather can be bought in many of the bazaars and markets and Dhabu Street is full of leather shops with craftsmen who can tailor jackets, skirts, and trousers to your personal requirements.
5. Try some decorative henna body art
Henna body art (Mehendi) is an ancient tradition of exotic body designs being painted on a lady’s hands and feet with non-permanent henna. Henna art is popular for a variety of celebrations including weddings. It is fun to have some henna body art done or to buy an art kit to take home as a present – and the kits contain everything including a book of designs!
6. Enjoy wearing some beautiful silk
There is a wealth of gorgeous silk clothes available in Mumbai in a rainbow of colors. There are various western styles to choose from but why not buy a beautiful sari or a lady’s traditional three-piece suit? These suits look really attractive and comprise of shalwar which is a wide-legged comfortable trouser and a matching kameez – a loose fitting shirt – plus a long scarf (dupatta).
7. Admire Madhubani paintings
There are many different styles of paintings in Mumbai and one to watch out for is Madhubani which is instantly recognizable as it has complex geometrical patterns and plenty of bright colors. Interestingly, the patterns are not painted with brushes but with twigs and fingertips so they really are unique.
8. Try some Indian wine
Indian wines are in their infancy as production only started in 2000. The main vine growing area is Nashik which is north-east of Mumbai. The wines are available in some of the city’s top restaurants and hotels and the white wine is particularly good. There is a shop selling the various wines near Crawford Market and whilst they are not cheap, they are very good quality and make a very unusual souvenir.
9. Pack some great Indian teas
There is a vast selection of different teas to be bought either in specialist tea shops or market stalls including Darjeeling Black, which is often referred to as the ‘champagne of tea’. Other types to watch out for include Assam Black, Masala Chai with spice, Broken Orange, Pekoe Small and organic Tulsi Red Chai which is a particularly soothing and relaxing tea.
10. Choose some Indian lampshades
Now, these might not be the easiest souvenirs to pack but if you have room for some modest sized ones in your suitcase, they make very unusual souvenirs! Made in paper, cotton, jute or bamboo, the lampshades are colorful and inexpensive and cast a lovely romantic glow in rooms. Mumbai has a rich tradition in lampshade making and families will often have a variety to use for different festivals and family occasions.