Pashmina, Handcrafted shawls, stoles, carpets, Kesar( saffron), dry fruits, Kashmiri Kawha, Walnut wood carvings, and paper mache items.
Are you a shopaholic? Love shopping while traveling? Like to gather a piece of every culture where you travel or love to gift souvenirs to your loved ones? Then Kashmir is the place for you. You would find yourself amazed by the number of fabulous things to buy from Kashmir.
And there is a popular saying in Kashmir that they jokingly call ‘Cashmore’ instead of Kashmir. You will get to know why you will need extra cash in Kashmir because it’s hard to control yourself.
Then why wait, let the window shopping begin.
Pashmina is probably the most popular product which is crafted in Kashmir. All over the world men and women, everyone loves it. If people get to know that you have traveled to Kashmir, they would surely ask you ‘have you bought a Pashmina?’ What makes pashmina so unique?
Pashmina is a very delicate and handcrafted woolen cloth made of a special type of Cashmere wool. This particular kind of wool is made of the fine, soft hair of the Himalayan goats from the Changthang area of Ladakh. The undercoat of the goat gives them warmth under the cold and harsh temperature in Ladakh. This special type of wool is collected from their neck, belly, and a few specific parts.
This fine-quality fur is collected very delicately and processed through multiple stages to make the finest quality Pashmina. Pashmina is so smooth, light, and comfortable yet so warm. You won’t even feel that you are wearing any Pashmina shawls or sarees but you will feel the warmth inside them.
After the wool is processed and Pashmina is prepared the gifted craftsman work on them and creates the best-handcrafted designs on it. Today many popular fashion designers use pashmina in their fashion exhibitions and they look so stylish. A woman or a man in a Pashmina shawl can feel ever so elegant. And, being in Kashmir you definitely would not want to miss out on this one.
How to identify Pashmina
I have already told you about the scams that happen around high-priced products in Kashmir. People who do not have an idea about Pashmina often tend to be fooled. So, I would recommend you gather a few ideas about Pashmina before buying. Or, you can check with people who have previously owned Pashmina. You can also buy from Govt. stores where you would get assured products. Do check out this blog on how to identify the real or fake Pashmina.
What is the price of Pashmina?
Pashmina is an extremely costly product. A regular quality Pashmina starts at INR 3000-5000 and can go up to 6-7 lacs. The price solely depends on the quality of the weaving and handcrafted designs on it. Though I would recommend that you can get a good Pashmina in the range of INR 6-10 thousand.
And a pashmina is known to last long. It’s a one-time investment in something elegant that would make you stand out from the crowd. This could be a perfect choice for a souvenir to buy from Kashmir.
2. Handcrafted Shawls and Sarees
Handcrafted shawls and sarees are also one of the most famous things to buy in Kashmir. The shawls available here are made of premium quality wool. The woolen material is very fine and delicate. Kashmiri handicrafts are unique and the designs are very elegant.
As we all know that Kashmir has been under constant political disputes and unrest. So, major industries have not flourished here. Handcrafted shawls are one of their major source of income apart from tourism and farming. So, the art of handcrafting on shawls and sarees has been there across generations. It has been a part of their culture.
The price of the shawls is reasonable and costs much less than Pashmina. It can be the perfect gifting option for you. For shawls, I would recommend you to go local or away from Srinagar markets. You would get it cheaper than in Srinagar. I got a few for my mother and relatives.
I have seen enough carpets in my life. But this just blew my mind with its beauty and vibrance. I have just never seen a carpet more beautiful than these Kashmiri carpets. The color, the texture, and the softness of the carpets just baffled me. Believe me, you will just want to return with one of these.
There are a few types of carpets available. They can either be handcrafted or machine-made, they can be made of wool or silk or both, and they can be differentiated based on are of use- wall or floor.
Machine-made carpets are the least attractive. While a machine can produce hundreds of carpets in a day, a good handcrafted carpet can take months to perfect. Silk carpets feel so soft under your feet. The higher the amount of silk in a carpet more will be its softness.
The design of handcrafted carpets is used generation after generation. The craftsmen follow a specific coding for making carpets. Usually, these carpets are woven by tying knots on the strands. Based on the count of knots and their density the price of the carpet is decided.
First, the gifted artists weave the carpet. Then the silk threads are evenly cut for smoothness and finish. Then the carpet is thoroughly washed to make its color permanent and long-lasting. There are quite several stages and it takes months.
Depending on their size the price of the carpet varies. Its price can even go to lacs. Many fraud sellers sell fake products. There are various tests to test a real carpet.
4. Walnut wood carvings
A lot of walnut trees grow in Kashmir. Walnut wood is hard and sturdy making it an ideal choice for carving. Walnut wood is dark, durable, and evenly grained that making it easy for texture and fine detailing. This is also a very popular craft among Kashmiris.
Many types of walnut wood-carved items are available in Kashmir. You can get tables, chairs, showpieces, jewelry boxes, spice containers, flower vases, etc. made of walnut wood. The price of the handcrafted walnut wood-carved items is decided based on their designs.
Walnut woods are seasoned thoroughly for 1 to 4 years before carving. The roots and trunks are dark and expensive. That makes them better suited for carving. The carving designs are also rooted in family generation after generation.
Small-sized jewelry boxes, spice containers, Shikara replicas, and incense stick holders can be the perfect choice for gifting.
5. Dry Fruits
Kashmiri dry fruits are famous all over India. Not only in India they are even exported to foreign countries. Kashmir produces various types of dry fruits every year. Dry fruit farming is one of the main sources of income among farmers. Cold dry weather is responsible for the good farming of dry fruits.
I will list down the dry fruits you can buy in Kashmir below-
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Figs
- Dried Cranberries
- Black raisins
I would recommend you buy dry fruit from the stores near Pahalgam. In Pahalgam, you would find it cheap and fresh as most of these are farmed locally. There are many dry fruit stores on the way from Srinagar to Pahalgam.
But be a little cautious while buying dry fruits. Please taste them before buying. Like many frauds, local sellers would trick you into buying low-quality products at high rates. So, before buying learn about the actual price of the dry fruits. I have seen many tourists get conned in Kashmir.
Recommended store: Kissan Keshar, I have personally bought various dry fruits, saffron, and berries from them. And each of them is the best in quality.
6. Kashmiri Saffron or Keshar
Kashmiri Saffron or Kesar is one of the rarest and costliest spices in the whole world. A few years back Kashmiri Kesar got its GI tag. The aroma, taste, and color of this special Kashmiri Kesar add magic to your dish. This fragrant spice can take your cooking to another level.
Saffron is derived from the purple flower, Crocus Sativus. From these flowers, the dark maroon-colored stigmas are collected. Around 200 flowers are needed to make a gram of Kesar. And that’s the reason why this spice is so costly.
Being so costly, the number of frauds that happen in selling Kesar is uncountable. Most people don’t know how to identify the real Kesar strands. But if you do these checks before buying then you won’t get conned.
How much does Kesar cost?
Kashmiri saffron is the costliest spice in the whole world. One Kilogram Kesar can cost around 2.5-3 lacs. Ideally, you can buy premium-quality Kesar at a rate of 250-300 INR/gm. Most people do not know the actual price. So, they end up paying even 1000 INR/gm. Don’t make these mistakes.
Also, in many shops and Shikaras, you would find them selling Kashmiri saffron at a rate of 50-100 INR/gm. You can rest assured that these are fake ones. The wholesale rate of Saffron in Kashmir is around 180-200 INR/gm.
A pack of premium quality Kashmiri saffron makes it a very choice for a gift from Kashmir to your friends and relatives.
7. Paper Mache Artefacts
Paper mache is one of the oldest crafting technologies in the world. Papers are pasted on top of another with a liquid adhesive that makes the outer shell hardened after drying. These paper mache artifacts are very lightweight. The paper mache is molded in various shapes like boxes, eggs, flower vases, small Shikaras, showpieces, etc. Paper mache products are then decorated with unique handcrafted paintings and designs.
These are not very costly. You can buy some good-looking paper mache crafts that you can gift or take back home as a souvenir.
8. Famous Kashmiri Willow
Who doesn’t love cricket in India? We all do. Cricketers are like gods to us. But do you know the weapon they wield is made in the valleys of Kashmir? Kashmir is one of the largest cricket bat manufacturers in the world.
Cricket bats are made of wood from willow plants. Kashmiri willow and English willow are the two of the most popular ones in terms of quality. In Kashmir, you would find bat manufacturing companies producing tons of cricket bats every year. These bats are much cheaper than English willow. It is affordable to young talents in India.
You can buy the best quality willow bats near Pahalgam and, Baramula. You can buy a good quality bat for around 1000-5000 INR.
9. Kashmiri Kehwa or Kahwa
Like many of you, I am a tea lover. But I never thought I would fall in love with special Kashmiri tea, known as Kahwa or Kehwa. Kashmiri Kehwa is a mixture of green tea, and many spices like cardamom, ginger, rose petals, cloves, saffron, cinnamon, etc.
Two variants of Kehwa are available. One contains whole spices and tea while the other one is available in powdered form as an instant mix. You can check out the health benefits and recipe for Kahwa here.
The instant mixes should cost you around 150-250 INR.
10. Traditional Kashmiri Pheran
Pheran is the most popular traditional dress in Kashmir worn by everyone. It’s a silk or woolen cloak that is longer and bulkier than your kurta. It is worn to keep them warm during the winter. These Pherans are handcrafted with typical Kashmiri designs. This dress represents Kashmiri culture, tradition, and history. Pherans are worn by the Kashmiris during their weddings as well.
11. Kashmiri Jewelry
Kashmiri jewelry is also another part of Kashmir that represents their old traditions. Kashmiri women love this jewelry and wear them in their Nikkah( wedding) and rituals. The jewelry here is mostly made of silver and brass materials. Gold pieces of jewelry are also available.
Popular jewelry is head jewelry like Jiggni, Tikka, ear jewelry like Bala, Alcahor, Atta-hor, and Neck jewelry like Halaqband. The most prominent characteristic of the jewelry in Kashmir is the existence of the amount of head jewelry that is worn here.
12. World-famous Kashmiri Apple
Apple cultivation happens primarily in two regions of India- Jammu & Kashmir and, Himachal Pradesh. Kashmiri apples are one of the finest apples in the world. All over India, these apples are quite famous.
In Pahalgam, there is a place called apple valley where you will find acres of land full of apple trees. If you get a chance to visit Kashmir in July-August you will get to see the apple trees full of these ripened red apples. These apples are so sweet that you will feel someone has artificially injected sugar into them.
You will get the freshest apples in the Kashmir valley near Pahalgam. The apples are cultivated so much in abundance that they will give you kilograms of apples for free.
13. Kashmiri pickles
You will also see many types of pickles available in Kashmir. You can buy many special types of pickles which are not available elsewhere, like- Kashmiri garlic pickles, apple pickles, onion pickles, Kashmiri red chili pickles, etc.
14. Original Shilajit
Shilajit is a black sticky substance found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Shilajit is often used as Ayurvedic medicine that enhances male stamina, physical endurance, sexual drive, and many other chronic health problems. It is proven that in many tests continuous intake of Shilajit as per prescription can help the male body to gain stamina, energy, and much more.
In Kashmir, you can get the purest form of Shilajit. Though if you are not aware you can also get scammed. But, few shops sell original products. You will get them in the Dry fruits store which I have previously mentioned in this post.
Note: Please do not take it without consulting your physician as this can have some side effects on you.
15. Cookies from Jan’s Bakery in Tangmarg
You won’t find this one in many recommendation lists but it can make it to the list of hidden gems in Kashmir. We didn’t have a plan to stay in Tangmarg. But due to some last-minute problems, we were forced to stay in Tangmarg which is an hour’s distance from Gulmarg. There I found this small bakery known as Jan’s Bakery.
This place serves several types of assorted cookies, traditional Kashmiri bread, momos, etc. There was another item which I loved the most. It was a mixture of white chocolate, cornflakes, dry fruits, and berries. It’s a personal recommendation.
I hope now you understand why this place is called ‘Cash more’. I ended up shopping my heart out in Kashmir. So, I have listed all that you need while shopping in Kashmir.