West Bengal, located in the eastern part of India, is definitely a great place to be in. There are plenty of reasons which make Bengal so famous. One of these is the shopping experience it provides. The bustling markets in the state are a treasure trove of handicrafts, ethnic Bengali weaves and artistic leather products.
One of the things to watch out here is the terracotta figurines, which were made popular by the Malla Rulers in the 16th century. Today, the craft is an inherent part of Bengal’s age-old heritage and culture. The popular terracotta Bankura Horses have been a preferred Bengali souvenir for ages, luring tourists with both their beauty and religious significance.
When it comes to West Bengal’s handicrafts, the conch shell carving is considered to be one of the most exotic arts in West Bengal since ancient times. The state is bestowed with some brilliant artisans who create magic with the natural marine shells, transforming them into beautiful pieces of art. Famously called as ‘sankharies’, these artisans create the famous conch shell bangles, a symbol of marital status and pride of every woman in Bengal.
West Bengal is world renowned for its excellent weaves, and the markets here would spoil you for choice when it comes to traditional saris. Tant, Baluchari and Kantha are the most popular varieties amongst Bengali women, and are a preferred wear for every festivity and occasion.
Looking for something more exotic thing to buy in West Bengal? The Dokra Metal Craft would leave you amazed with its fascinating variety in the form of figurines, sculptures, artefacts and several decorative items. It would also be interesting to note that each item of the Dokra Craft is exclusive and making its exact replica is next to impossible. These objects of Dokra Art do not have even a single joint, which make them unique.
While shopping in West Bengal, you should also check out Sholapith handicrafts. If you are in Bengal during the time of Durga Puja, you would see an extensive use of sola (dried core of a plant) in decoration of temples and puja pandals. These handcrafted pieces make for an excellent home décor.
The famous Kalighat Paintings are another shopping item to look out for. Originating in the vicinity of the ancient Kalighat Temple in Kolkata during 19th century, these paintings were made by artists called ‘Patuas’ and depicted various religious themes. From the pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddesses to episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, and scenes from the life of Krishna, each painting reflects a variety with bold simplifications, vibrant colours and strong lines. Today, these paintings have come a long way, not only confining themselves to religious subjects, but also as a strong portrayal of the modern Bengali society.
Your shopping spree in West Bengal is incomplete without shopping for its sweetmeats. Among the sweets which you should check out are sandesh and rasgulla. Other edible items like the Nolen Gur (date palm jaggery) and Gondhoraj Lime (hybrid of orange and lime), make for excellent gifts.
You can also shop for other interesting items including handcrafted bamboo & jute products, putul dolls (clay puppets), the world-famous Darjeeling Tea, antiques, rare books, paper mache masks and leather art handicrafts.