Shopping in Darjeeling
It may not be an exaggeration if we say that shopping is actually a part and parcel of traveling. A tour is never deemed complete unless you bring back something from the place of your travel. Fortunately, Darjeeling, with its varied ethnic population, is a treasure trove of art and craft. On top of that, there is the Darjeeling tea; which is renowned all over the world for its delicate taste and aroma. Let us therefore, have a look at different objects one can buy at Darjeeling.
What to Shop in Darjeeling
Let us first understand that only the tea, which is grown and produced in the hilly region of Darjeeling district, is known as Darjeeling tea. Moreover, different gardens produce different grades of tea. For example Castleton Tea Garden in Kurseong near Darjeeling is said to produce the costliest tea. Then again, the first flush in March-April always produces the best tea; the quality of tea decreases as the season progresses. The manufacturing process too is an important factor in determining the grade of the tea.
Hence, it is important to make sure that you buy the tea, especially the expensive grade, from reliable stores. House of Tea, an exclusive outlet of Goodricke Tea, R. N. Agarwal Tea and Nuthmulls Tea are among the best in town.
Art and CraftAs has already been mentioned, Darjeeling has a varied ethnic population with distinct art and culture. Consequently, the town offers a tremendous variation in different types of artwork. Among them, we must mention Nepali Khurki, Buddhist artifacts, Tibetan mask, brass statues, wood carvings, bamboo items, jewelries and trinkets made out of beads and other materials etc. Needlework is also another distinctive artwork in this area. Different scenes as well as portraits of ethnic men and women of this area are depicted by a mixture of embroidery, applique work and a touch of fabric colors.
Thangka or Thanka paintings depicting Buddhist scenes as well as stories are also a unique artwork of this region. It is actually a scroll painting originating in Nepal; but later it was exported to Tibet. It is a complicated artwork consisting of picture panels mounted with textile pieces and finally covered with silk. Among the different types of thangkas, tson-tang is the most common type. Other varieties are go-tang, tsem-thang etc.
There are quite a few big and small shops selling different varieties of handicrafts. Among them, Habeeb Mullik and Sons on the Chowrasta Mall in Darjeeling offers truly a tremendous range. Dorjee Himalayan Artifacts is also another god place to buy such crafts. Let us however, make it clear that smaller or lesser-known shops too houses different types of such artwork. In fact, the small shops in the by-lanes of Chowk Bazar are actually a treasure trove of local art and craft; however, buyers may have to bargain a little to get the best value.
CarpetsDarjeeling also produces a good variety of carpets. In fact, Tibetan carpets manufactured in Darjeeling are famed for their designs, color and quality. To buy such carpets one can visit either Hayden Hall or Third Eye Tibetan Carpets and Handicrafts on Laden La Road. The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre is another good place to buy such carpets. They always have readymade carpets for sale.
PhotographsPhotographs too are another good buy from Darjeeling. Century old Das Studio on Nehru Road sells beautiful pictures of Kanchenjunga as well as scenes and landscapes from Darjeeling and surrounding area. Mounted on frames, these photographs, some of which belonged to personal collection, look truly impressive.
However, for woolen clothing one does not have to go anywhere. As much as they are available in established shops, one can come across brightly colored hand-knitted woolies on road side stalls all over the town. In these shops, one may have to bargain a little; but they do offer good value for money.
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