Oh! How I love going shopping in Delhi. When I first moved here, the Colombian girl who helped me find a new place to live told me I needed to check out this place called Sarojini whenever I wanted to cheer myself up. The thing with shopping in Delhi is that everything is so cheap you have to tell yourself that you’re also earning in rupees so you won’t spend your entire salary buying “Aladdin pants”, paisleys-printed skirts, silk scarves, bangles, colorful shoes, and whatever that can count as home decor.
Doing shopping in Colombia in similar markets is not something really common. Every now and then there are street fairs / markets, but mostly the shopping is done in malls. Besides, here in Delhi I feel really safe doing street shopping. Yes, you may want to read which are the red alerts regarding safety in India, but the city in general feels quite safe.
I go to Sarojini or Lajpat market with cash, talking on my cell phone, “instagramming” cute things, or taking out my camera with no kind of problem and without any fear. And how cheap are these markets? Well, with a thousand rupees you can get 1 or 2 entire outfits, even though is not the most “high quality” clothing out there, and also, you should take into account of the conditions of how these clothes were made, and the textile waste you will produce with these clothes. However, if you are looking for silk and cashmere, they are also incredibly cheap you won’t believe it, and really high quality. Also, embroidery and knitting are to DIE FOR in every single piece of clothing. And well, I will just conclude saying that I thought latinos were used to bright colors and bold combinations, but nothing is as bright and colorful as India.
So here is my guide (from my personal preferences and experiences) to do shopping in Delhi but first, the general rules:
- It doesn’t matter in which market you are buying and what item you are buying, be ready to bargain A LOT, unless it has those signs that say fixed price or it has a sticker with a price somewhere.
- Also bring as much small change with you as possible. In these markets there are few places who take credit cards. Always bring cash. (of course, this doesn’t apply to malls)
- You may want to bring a backpack on the bigger side with you or a tote bag that can carry many items, since you don’t want to be bothered with a hundred mini plastic bags for every item you buy, than do nothing more than polluting.
Sarojini Nagar Market
- If you are in need of new clothes and like me, you earn in Indian rupees, this is the place for you and will become your favorite for shopping in Delhi. Like I said previously, there are some things you have to consider like where and under which conditions these clothes were made, and the waste you will create if you shop just for fun and not for need. In my case I only go there when I actually need clothes. I moved to India with a 20kg piece of luggage, and sometimes I find myself needing some things, since in India I need to be much more covered than in Colombia.
- I personally love the experience of going to Sarojini, for me it represents what is like to go shopping in Delhi. It is a maze of people, stores and textiles EVERYWHERE, but I love it. Make sure to go there with enough time (if you can avoid going on weekends, even better, less crowds), and with comfortable clothes that somehow, allow you to try on clothing without showing any skin, because many of these places don’t have a changing room. For example, if you are looking for pants or shorts, try going with a long, comfortable skirt so you can try the clothes underneath it. Otherwise, you can try some item in top of what you are wearing. Keep in mind that MOST of the times they won’t let you try them on, and this can’t bother you. It is what it is.
- Make sure you KNOW what you need, otherwise you will buy EVERYTHING there and you will waste a lot of time in every store. I usually go there to get blouses and tops for the office, but I also have bought pajamas, t-shirts, kurtas, and I recently went with a friend to find an elegant long dress for a wedding, after we declined the idea of wearing salwar kameez. (this one is SO cute, and we didn’t find anything like it).
- The accessory stores are UNBELIEVABLE, and you will find everything there, from bangles, to toe rings. Make sure to check it. You won’t regret it.
- In the surroundings of the market you can also shop for bags and shoes, but to be honest, shoes in these kind of markets (unless they are cute indian flats) are very poor quality. I tried buying simple black sandals and slip-ons and they didn’t last long. On the other hand, the clothes can last much longer. – UPDATE: In 2017, I still have clothes from Sarojini I bought in 2013 and I LOVE it.-
- There are other things that can be found in Sarojini, like toys, kitchen supplies, etc. but they aren’t the main reason you go to this market when you are shopping in Delhi.
- If you are looking to buy silk, textiles or a saree, this is the place for you. Usually when you want to buy these kind of items you enter a proper store with AC (it sounds dumb but trust me, in an Indian summer this is luxury), and they even offer you something to drink. You can sit really comfortably and a person will show you the products. Bargain in these stores is not as intense, but still you can negotiate the price.
Lajpat Nagar Market
- Lajpat Nagar Market quickly won a very close place to my heart since it was the closest market to where I lived first and it was my first experience ever of shopping in Delhi. In Lajpat Nagar you can find pretty much everything: clothing, shoes, accessories, kitchen supplies, toys, food, and the best Afghani food in the city (not kidding).
- If you go to this market to shop for groceries, there is a place I love to go to get some food supplies and it is the Twenty four seven store close to the metro station. I absolutely love the fact of buying some imports whenever I want to cook meal that tastes more «western».
- In lajpat nagar I happen to find better pashmina and silk scarves than in Sarojini, but maybe it is just my perception, and I’m simply more inclined for the options in Lajpat Market.
- After you are done with the shopping please visit this Afghani restaurant. I was introduce to it by my roommates after two weeks in India, and I have been in love with its food since. (Craving some now).
Malviya Nagar Market
- The reason I include Malviya Nagar Market, is because it is also one of the markets that quickly won my heart since is the nearest from the place I live now. This market doesn’t have a lot of clothing or shoes to offer, I go here to buy groceries, make up and good drugstore products.
- Also, I love going there to get fresh veggies and paneer, and when I had to send some presents back home, I got amazing jewellry and bangles there.
- So you came to India and you want to buy souvenirs to take home? Paharganj is probably the place where you need to spend that time dedicated to do some shopping in Delhi. The stores sell everything, but mostly souvenirs, nice decor items, some very very indian looking clothing (meaning the ones tourists like to wear for doing yoga like these yoga pants, and not so much regular «western» clothes, or every-day kurtas that indian girls wear to work). This is a place you have to go if you need to buy those cute elephants for your desks, colorful cushions to give to your mom, and posters of hindu gods like the ones I saw in my first night here.
- One of the main attractions of Paharganj besides the shopping, are the rooftop restaurants, which happen to be delicious. They are definitely worth trying and offer a very particular view of the hectic activities on the street.
- For me Connaught place is the middle point between street markets like the above mentioned and malls. In the centric area of Delhi, this iconic place have all kinds of stores, restaurants, and places to see. You can kind stores offering brands like Nike, and also those cute elephants for the desk right outside of it from a street vendor. I sometimes buy books here, and mostly I come whenever I need to check one specific brand. If you are near Connaught Place doing an errand don’t miss these delicious waffles.
The Malls: DLF, Select City Walk and Vasant Kunj.
- When I first moved to India I was a little bit surprised on how big and western the malls were. They are HUGE and they have almost every single brand you will find in a mall in the US like Zara, Forever 21 and MAC Cosmetics, to name a few. For me, the only thing I really feel like buying at these malls is underwear, since I’m not completely convinced by the ones in Sarojini (lol), so I prefer getting my undies in La Senza in Select Citywalk. Besides that, for me the malls are something like a western oasis in the indian world I live now, so I love going there when I want some comfort food (read: Hard Rock Cafe, TGIFS, Starbucks) and when I want to watch a movie. But beware, they do a break in the middle of the movies here.
So this is my guide to shopping in Delhi. Do you have any favourite places you love to go shopping in Delhi? Let me know in the comments!