Shops in Mumbai take in both ends of the market - and you can go home with luggages full of good bargains, if only you know where to look. There are fabulous boutiques, department stores and handicraft and handloom emporia catering to buyers who are ready to pay good prices for high-quality goods. The shopping arcades in five-star hotels like the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal are also a veritable treasure trove selling authentic antiques, silks and designer wear.
For the budget traveler, however, the city's the limit with little artifacts and garment shops lining every major road. If you're staying downtown, do check out the stalls at Fashion Street (near the Bombay Gymkhana Club). Export surpluses and rejects are available here at throwaway prices - and that too can be beaten down by a cool 50 per cent with some clever bargaining. The clothes are mostly cotton, in keeping with contemporary styles of the West. The small defects, in any, are pretty unnoticeable, though it's always better to look each piece over carefully before purchase. Wonderful stuff for summer wear, and you can also pick up sequined and embroidered silk blouses and skirts to wear in the evenings.
The shops lining the Colaba Causeway (behind the Taj Mahal hotel) also sells a lot of garments, along with handicraft and handloom products. You'll get wonderful faux jewelry here in brass, terracotta and silver for no more than US$ 2 apiece.
The famous Chor Bazar (Thieves' Market) is a place most tourists like to visit on a trip to Mumbai. Local traders on Mutton Street, who have been selling at this flea market for generations, stock an eclectic choice of goods ranging from teak and rosewood furniture to crockery, glassware, porcelain, paintings, beads, lamps, masks - and anything else you can think of. Bargain is the norm, and after lengthy negotiations, you can get hold of some very rare and unusual articles to do up your home or gift to friends.
Mumbai is the commercial centre of India's large diamond industry, and you may want to buy typically Indian jewelry while you are here. The country is famous for its expertise at cutting the smallest diamonds, and you can get a well-designed diamond ring for as little as US$ 40. At the Zaveri Bazar (Jewelry Bazar), silver is a very good buy. Napkin rings, picture frames, snuff boxes, bangles and necklaces in old silver sell quite cheap here.
For serious antique collectors, the government emporia are the best bet. If you looking for bargains, however, go to the small stalls in Colaba, Dadar and Bandra. Keep in mind that the Government of India does not allow antique over 100 years old to be exported out of the country. If you're in any doubt, the Archeological Survey of India can be of assistance.
* * * * *
Published on 6/16/03