Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Shopping in Hyderabad - what to buy, where to buy?

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Last week, a conversation with a friend steered towards my shopping adventures in Hyderabad. Hyderabad is know for its rich cultural heritage and finger- licking good food, so, when she asked me for my top five gift ideas from Hyderabad, I decided to make a blog post out of it.

A quick research into what other Hyderabadi bloggers felt, I realized that most had listed shopping destinations and stores in Old Hyderabad - Char Minar, Laad Bazaar, Abids, Dilsukh Nagar etc. Now, for somebody like me, who lives in the newer part of Hyderabad (Gachibowli, Financial District, Hi - Tech city) venturing into the Old City is no mean feat.

If you are visiting from out of town or cannot summon up the time to venture into the bylanes of Old Hyderabad, here are my top five gift ideas from Hyderabad. These are specifically for shopping locations around Hi-Tech City, Gachibowli, Financial district and Madhapur:

1. Kalamkari Dupatta/ stole

Kalamkari technique involves painting or printing on fabric with natural dyes. The motifs are intricate floral designs, birds and sometimes deities. A kalamkari dupatta in cotton or silk makes for a great gift. For a home decor enthusiast, consider picking from a range of kalamkari table cloths, napkins or a floor rug.

Where to buy: Take a short detour towards Shaikpet to Suraiya's Traditional Weaves, a quaint store set up by revivalist Suraiya Hassan in her home compound. Fondly known as Suraiya aapa, on most days, you will find the octogenarian enthusiastically greeting customers in the store. If you have time, talk to her about the history of the textiles in the store and take a peek inside her handloom weaving workshop behind the store.

Pro-tip: Suraiya's store is like a treasure box, go with some time on hand and an open mind to explore.

2. Banne Nawab masala boxes

There is no better gift for a home cook than the gift of good local flavors and from Hyderabad, it should be some authentic local masalas. If you can't carry Hyderabad's awesome delicacies with you, pack a couple of boxes of Banne Nawab masalas and flavor your curries with a Hyderabadi twist at home. Two of my favorite Banne Nawab masalas are mutton curry and Dum chicken

Where to buy: Pick these from a local supermarket like Ratnadeep or Balaji Grand Bazaar

3. Ikat fabric 

For textile enthusiasts, the Ikat weave is a magical combination of mathematics and design. The pattern is produced by creating a design on paper and then translating it on warp and weft yarn by the tie and dye process. When the tie and dye warp and weft yarns are woven together on traditional wooden hand looms, it produces the ikat fabric with geometric motifs. Pochampally is one of the places where traditional ikat weaving is practiced on wooden looms. For the fashionista at home, buy a few meters of handwoven ikat fabric or pick a bed spread for your bedroom

Where to buy: Head to the recently opened Pochampally Textile Park Center in the State Art Gallery, Madhapur. It houses some of the most beautiful modern, geometric ikats that I have seen in Hyderabad. Their fabrics are produced from Azo-free dyes and directly benefit the weavers in Pochampally

Pro - tip: Telia rumaal sarees are a rare collectors item. Telia rumaal is a variation of ikat which is now produced only by a handful of weavers. The prices start from Rs 12000, pick one for someone who will really cherish it! It's an heirloom piece.

4. Uppada Silk saree

An Uppada silk saree is the Kanjeevaram of Andhra Pradesh. Uppada saree or Uppada pattus are handwoven in a jamdami style with bright, bold colors and real zari. A well made Upadda saree will have designs on both sides which is quite impressive and rare. Pick one for the saree connoisseur at home.

Where to buy: Personally, I love Kalanjali Silks for their well curated range of sarees. Their styles are fresh, modern and tasteful

Pro-tip: Shop online at Silklane for a traditional Uppada Saree curated by their owner Neelima

Picture via SilkLane

5. Pearls

No trip to Hyderabad is complete without a string of customary pearls. Unlike gold or silver, pearl rates are not standardized. This means the rates aren't fixed and may vary from shop to shop, which also gives you the power to bargain. Pearl prices depend upon the size, lustre and shape. Rounder, glossier and larger pearls are more expensive.

Where to buy: Mangatrai Pearls is probably the most popular shop with branches across the city. Most tourists in the city are directed to Mangatrai for pearl shopping. They promise authenticity but are usually on the higher end of the price spectrum. I would suggest shopping around in smaller, government approved stores as well. Swati Pearls, near the Gachibowli circle is another store that offers a wide variety at lower prices

Pro - tip: If you know a good jeweler back home, consider buying loose pearls. Also, most pearl dealers will offer some discount, ask for it!

This is not all folks! Hyderabad is a mecca for beautiful handmade crafts. Look around for Bidri work, cheriyal masks, perforated leather puppets and Kondapalli toys.

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