Nine Unique Gifts You Should Buy in Delhi
Delhi is a bazaar, author William Dalrymple writes, full of “riches and horrors … a labyrinth, a city of palaces … an anarchy, a press of people, a choke of fumes, a whiff of spices.” Built and rebuilt after conquests by Lodi, Mogul and British Empires, it practically exemplifies the idea of reincarnation. The city enthralls (and assails) the senses, as do its crafts—from the soft touch of a silk scarf to the scent of sandalwood soap.
Hand-Painted Craft Bottle
A discarded beer bottle is reborn as the canvas for a hand-painted tableau of Hindu myths, a feat that converts intemperance into something more spiritual. At Dastkari Haat’s craft store, buyers can also feel good about their purchase: All proceeds go to a nonprofit. 39, Khan Market (2nd floor).
Nappa Dori Leather Purse
Nappa Dori offers artisanal leather goods from key chains to overnight bags. The brand, created by young designer Gautam Sinha, translates literally as “leather and thread.” 25, Mehar Chand Market.
Silk-Covered Bead Necklaces
Cloth from a silk sari covers wooden beads in this hand-sewn necklace created by House of Wandering Silk, a social enterprise based in New Delhi that partners with NGOs and women’s cooperatives. Good Earth, 9, Khan Market, and the Happy Hunter boutique, E52, Hauz Khas Market, both feature the brand.
Painted Turtle Lock
A turtle connotes endurance, an apt attribute for a lock. The catch is released by turning a key, then cocking the turtle’s head. Available in Chandni Chowk as well as at several shops lining Connaught Place’s Janpath Road.
Concentrated Incense From Central India
Established in 1816, Gulab Singh Johrimal sells attar, oils, soaps and incense. Its flagship store is located in Dariba Kalan, the longest running retail market of Old Delhi. Meera dhoop is a type of concentrated incense made from myrrh sourced from central India. Often burned in Hindu temples, it’s also a natural insect repellent. 320, Dariba Kalan, Chandni Chowk.
Decorative Door Tassel
Latkan are decorative tassels hung on either side of a window or door as a gesture of welcome. The camels, desert colors and tiny mirrors are all motifs typical of Gujarat, India’s westernmost state. Available at Central Cottage Industries Emporium, Jawahar Vypar Bhawan, Janpath Road.
Wire Rickshaw Replica
A wire replica of a paddy rickshaw, or bike taxi, is a modern iteration of carved, wooden toy bullock carts. This one was bought from a street vendor outside Raj Ghat, the Gandhi Memorial, in a transaction overseen by a nearby group of street monkeys.
Brass Vessel Depicting Hindu Gods
The brass Abhishek vessel depicts Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god responsible for change. Holy water from the Ganges is poured into such vessels during annual festivals. Sold at the Chawri Bazar in Old Delhi, near Jama Masjid (mosque).
Traditionally Stitched Silk Scarf
This Khadi dupatta, or scarf, features birds and geometric flowers in the kantha style created by using a running stitch typical of rural Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. Sold at Dasktari Haat’s adjacent sari shop, 39 Khan Market (2nd floor).