Go the ethnic route in Gujarat

Go the ethnic route in Gujarat

Head to Gujarat during Navaratri and shop to your heart's content

A Kutch hand-embroidered koti for sale in Gujarat

Navaratri is a nine-day celebration that honours Goddess Durga and her different forms each night. Garba dance and dandiya raas are the highlights of Durga Puja in Gujarat when the entire state swirls around to the tunes of garba songs and dandiya beats. The vibrancy of the chaniya-cholis donned by women, and kediyu kafni, kurta and koti (jackets) donned by men make the dancers dazzle in their colourful attire. Pagadis, bangles, silver or oxidised jewellery (jhumka, chokers, rings, maangtika), mojris (embroidered shoes), and a host of other glittering and shining accessories add that extra zing to the entire outfit.

Do the ‘garba’

The enriched crafts of Gujarat find their way on the garba grounds, giving the much-needed economic and social empowerment to the artisans from the rural communities of the state. The intricate Kutchi embroidery, abhla (mirror work) embroidery and the traditional tie and dye designs enhance the chaniya-choli, kurtas, kurti, koti, skirts, stoles and long dupattas worn by the dancers. Also adding a dash of colour are the lacquered dandiyas that are handmade at Sankheda and elsewhere. From simple wooden sticks wrapped in satin strips of cloth to the traditional copper and gold ones in a coloured (blue, white, red, green) backdrop, there are many varieties of dandiyas.  

The capital of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, and its adjoining world heritage city of Ahmedabad are the places to be during this festive season. There are modern malls, boutique and high-end stores that satisfy your urge for designer wear. However, it is the age-old street shopping in vintage bazaars that gives immense satisfaction as you can see an array of varieties and also enjoy bargaining for them. Nothing can beat the experience of shopping for garba in Law Garden in Ahmedabad, the best place to purchase a variety of chaniya -cholis and attractive trinkets. 

The capital’s charm

As stalls after stalls flash with glittering items, you must have a discerning eye to find something exclusive. The sellers here are known to double and triple their prices during the festive season, so be a smart buyer. Rani No Hajiro (east of Manek Chowk) and Nehru Nagar are the other places from where you can pick up garba attire and traditional jewellery. Those who are wary of crowds and bargain-buys could visit Ahmedabad Haat at Vastrapur in the heart of Ahmedabad. This is a government initiative to promote the state’s heritage and crafts. 


Cultural Vadodara

If you are in Vadodara, which is hailed as the cultural capital of Gujarat, you can experience the traditional form of garba, and there’s a strict dress code of garba attire at the venues.  Nava Bazaar for girls and Mangal bazaar for boys are perfect street-shopping spots. If this seems tiring, then go for better shops at Alkapuri, Waghodia Road. 

Surreal Surat

Anyone visiting Surat would be amazed at the street food experience there. Very similar to Mumbai in some parts, Surat is known for its textiles and diamond cutting and polishing industry. For those who like traditional wear with a modern twist, there’s the option of buying designer cholis in net and machine embroidery. Ring Road, Adajan and Bombay markets could get you some modern-style stuff, but for traditional items, visit Chauta Bazaar. Just a month prior to Navaratri, various exhibitions in the city sell traditional garba attire and jewellery

Sparkling jewelleryfor sale in Gujarat
Sparkling jewelleryfor sale in Gujarat during Navaratri

Cool Kutch

In the Kathiawar peninsula and Kutch, you would be spoilt for choice for traditionally embroidered chaniya-cholis and kediyu kafni. It is in Saurashtra where garba originated, that ancient garba (prachin garba) can be seen. Rajkot is the biggest city in Saurashtra and famous for single-ikat Rajkot Patola saris. Don’t miss the chaotic and lively Bangdi Bazaar. The profusion of colourful glass bangles, costume jewellery and distinctive silver jewellery (in the adjoining market) will keep you asking for more.

At Bhavnagar, explore the Haluriya and Rupam Chowk, and at Jamnagar, go to Willington Crescent and Mahavir Bandhani to shop for bandhej saris. Kutch is the place to be for garba shopping, for its Kutch embroidery is world-famous. At Bhuj, get exquisite hand-embroidered chaniya-cholis, Kutchi blouses, kurtis and caps at Vaniyavad Market. A visit to Shroff Bazaar is a must for intricate silver jewellery.

In the ecologically important Banni Grasslands, you can find several aesthetically pleasing handicraft villages. Hodko, Dhordo, Ludiya, Dhamadka, Sumrasar, Bhirandiyara and Dhaneti are some of the places here. Just 8 km southeast of Bhuj is Bhujodi. It is a co-operative settlement of over 1,200 artisans well-versed in traditional weaving from whom you can buy the products directly.