Bhat Shawls: Terrific for bags
What to buy: If you are looking to buy white embroidered bags, that seem to be at almost every store, this would be the best place. Why? They are easy and friendly (no fake coy talk), carry a nice variety, and give good prices. They also have shawls, kurtas, and other fabric related stuff.
Sadly, I forgot to get the name of the two men who we had met; all I can unhelpfully say is I think they both were in their 40s :(
Gagribal Lane 3, very close to Hotel Humzaa, at the end of a lane off Boulevard. Phone: 9906957529.
If for some reason that store is closed, then you may also try Kashmir Arts, on Boulevard Road near New Park Hotel, opposite Shikara Gate no. 3. Phone 9697001235
- Budget Travel
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You know: the drill
You know the drill. Bargain for the price. Don't go to govt. crafts emporiums because they are overpriced... but the air conditioning is nice =)
For shawls, kurtas, stoles, papier-mâché, and other local crafts, there is really no one vendor. You have to look around. But there is one location! Walk on the Boulevard at evening to meet the sellers who sit and place their crafts precariously next to the water below. I know it's very tourist-heavy so you think it would be a trick but it strangely still is the best place. I say that after a lot of looking around. If you negotiate well you will find the best variety at best prices there. The stores on the other side can also offer good things depending on what you're looking for (like saris), but still must negotiate.
If you go in winter though, like October to February, one storekeeper said most shops on Boulevard are closed because of not enough tourists then. Instead they pack their stuff and travel across the winter fairs in India that take place around that time.
Some young papier-mâché guys, who had kind of a unique array with fine work, on the Boulevard said they also have a store. Shafi Arts, Shalla Bagh, near Shaheen Public School, Srinagar. Phone 9797900068, 9797034445, 194-2424761. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Family Travel
Traditional handicrafts and souvenirs
Kashmir is famous for its traditional handicrafts and the following items (which are famous in Kashmir) are worth buying if you are interested:
- Kashmir carpets (very famous and beautiful)
- Products made from famous Kashmir goat wool (known as Cashmere) e.g. showls, clothings
- Paper marche products (which comes in all shapes, sizes, colours etc)
- Jewelries (some locals will try selling them to you while at Dal Lake)
During your trip to Srinagar, your guide will bring surely bring you to one or more of the above shops. If you want to buy, remember to bargain :)
- Arts and Culture
Avoid the big rug shops
Our guide took us to a rug shop, one that he probably gets comission from, that was very overpriced. If you know anything about Kashmiri, Persian and Indian rugs you'll have a better time bargaining. I would not recommend going there if you dont know much about them. Also, do NOT trust that the, so called, antique rugs are genuine. becuase I vsited Srinagar on the off season, I saw how they antique these. they lie the rugs on busy streets allowing cars and trucks to drive over them.
What to pay: If you're serious about getting a Kashmiri rug, do some research before your trip and know about thread count, fabrics, patterns and what you should be paying verses the selling price.
Cottage Industries: Avoid the Cottage Industries Shops
Every city in India has a Cottage Industries Emporium, filled with an overpriced selection of t\everything from home furnishings, garments, and art. These places are tourist traps and the guide or taxi driver that takes you there usually gets a cut of the sale price. They're "easy" one stop shops, but you can find all this stuff for a fraction of the price if you look around the city in smaller shops.
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