Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. This means that over the centuries, it has become a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, languages and traditions. It is one of those cities where numerous influences have left an indelible mark.
So, what do you do when you are in Varanasi. Apart from immersing and engulfing yourself in spirituality, you could do a lot in this holy city. Here are some of the best places to shop in Varanasi where you can engage in some serious retail therapy.
Banarasi Silk Sarees: Varanasi and Banarasi Sarees are almost synonymous with each other. But if you want a wide variety but at a reasonable price, Thatheri Bazaar is where you should head to. There are many wholesale shops where you are sure to find your dream saree. Apart from this market, Jaharlall & Pannalall at Gowdowliya market, Pandey Sari Industries near Manikarnika Ghat and Mehrotra Silk Factory near Brahma Ghat are some of the best places to shop in Varanasi for their famous sarees.
Pashmina Shawls, Silk Scarves, Cotton/Linen Fabrics: Baba BlackSheep(Bhelpura) and Bed Silk and Pashmina Shop(Assi Ghat) are really famous establishments where you can find the most stunning array of Pashmina items, Home linens, Silk products from all over the country.
Ganga Jal: Believe it or not Ganga Jal or water from the Ganges is the most exported thing from Varanasi. The city, also known as Kashi is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. It is believed the Ganga Jal fed to a dying person paves the way for salvation or ‘moksha’. You can find bottles of Ganga Jal for sale along the many ghats.
Handicrafts: The craftsmen of this city have honed their skills in brassware, copperware, Gulab Minakari, ivory work, handcrafted toys and stone and wood work over the ages. Sharma Toys Emporium(Dashwamedh) is where you can choose from a wide variety of both modern and ancient toys. But if you are unsure of what you are looking for, head to Urban Haat(Govt. Enterprise) or the bylanes of Gai Ghat to buy Gulab Minakari items, which are indigenous to this city. Khowja is known for its wooden works.
Literature: Varanasi is not only a very important Hindu destination, it is a leading centre for ‘Yoga’ too. In Harmony Book Shop(Assi Ghat), Pilgrim Book House and City Book Shop(Gowdowliya), you will find books on just about everything that the city is known for.
Musical Instruments: Not only a spiritual centre, Varanasi is home to musical legends like the Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and Sitar Maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. Thus, it is natural to find some of the best traditional Indian musical instruments. If you are looking for one, Bengali Tola has a lot to offer
Like many other cities of historical, spiritual and cultural importance, Varanasi too, is made alive by its soul. The divinity of this place rubs off on you and makes you flow like the Ganges, slowly and surely, from the mountains to the ocean. This is an experience that has to be experienced!