The friendly Indian state of Gujarat epitomises the beauty and diversity of India. Known as the land of legends, it is home to historical giants such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The people of Gujarat welcome you with the traditional greeting Aavo Padharo: joined hands and open hearts.
From wildlife sanctuaries and desert areas to hillside resorts, temple towns, and beaches, this state is a treasure trove of incredible experiences. When in Gujarat, there are two things you just cannot miss – gorging on vegetarian food and shopping. Walk through one of the many colourful bazaars and handicraft shops, shop for souvenirs to take back home, and end your day with hot masala tea and khaman dhokla. From textiles to traditional handicraft items, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking local buys. Here are a few of the best.
- Patola Silk Sarees
Made in Patan, Patola silk sarees are double ikat weaves made from fine silk. Patola sarees were traditionally worn only by royalty and those with noble blood. The creation of Patola silk sarees is quite labour-intensive. From start to finish, each saree takes at least six months to a year to be made. Available in most Gujarati city markets, Patola sarees tend to be priced high but are well worth the expense.
2. Bandhej/Bandhani Cloth
An iconic part of Gujarati culture and tradition, bandhani or bandhej material is tie-dyed with a crushed finish. With a variety of tie-dye patterns and colours, bandhani is a local favourite that is used to create garcholas and panetars for weddings, pagdis or turbans, salwar-kameez, dupattas, scarves, waistbands for men, kurtas, stoles, and sarees. Jamnagar is one of the cities well known for bandhani fabric with bright embroidery. Chokidal bandhani squares with animal motifs to use as scarves and stoles or kambaliya patterns with elegantly designed borders: take your pick!
3. Mata-ni-pachedi Paintings
Even if you do not have religious leanings, mata-ni-pachedi paintings are enchanting enough to display in your house. These ritualistic Kalamkari paintings come in two varieties – paintings on the cloth of the Mother Goddess that are painstakingly handcrafted by master artisans, and the less expensive block printed versions with fine filigree designs. The designs are created using vegetable colour extracts and other natural paints. Fun fact: Gujarat is the oldest centre for block printing in the world.
4. Lacquered Toys
The talented artisans of Gujarat produce a range of lacquered wooden products including bangles and toys. A number of towns like Sankheda, Idar, and Nirona are well known for their wooden toys, dandiya/dance sticks, and other handcrafted wooden toys. Made to represent animals like cows and elephants, these lacquered toys are perfect souvenirs, whether you want to display them in your home or gift them to little ones.
5. Embroidered Cushion Covers
Gujarat is known for its rich variety of traditional embroidery. You can get blouse pieces, embroidered stoles, as well as detailed inimitable cushion covers. Kutchi embroidery is done on Mushroo silk, and the mirrorwork on these cushion covers is exemplary. Other embroidery styles to look out for are Sakri, Bhavariyo, Abhlya mirrorwork, Neran, etc.
6. Khadi Clothes and Handicrafts
Khadi is more than just a type of cloth in India it is the symbol of the movement toward independence of the country. Made popular by Mahatma Gandhi who used to spin khadi on his charkha/wheel, this cloth is just as popular in Gujarat today. The fabric itself is versatile, slightly coarse, breathable, and durable. Available in the form of kurtas, western shirts, skirts, trousers, sarees, etc. khadi would make a unique and historical souvenir for folks back home.
From Vadodara to Palitana, you will find a number of indigenous handicrafts that you can get as souvenirs of a memorable trip across Gujarat. When here, do not miss the chance of eating Gujarati snacks or farsaan – take some with you for a taste of Gujarat with homemade tea. Snacks like muthia, khandvi, dhokla, fafda, ganthia, and sweets like ghari, peda, maghaz, and halwa are good options because they taste great and carry well for long periods while travelling. Aavo padharo!