Passion Points: Family
You Asked: I am going with my nine-year-old first to Jodhpur; then to Manvar tented camp, Agra, and Jaipur, and we have an afternoon in Delhi either on way to or from Agra have guides set up but I’d love tips on shopping in any or all of those places—a single best jewelry store would be nice, as we won’t spend much time on that; and fun spots for cool gifts, pashminas, whatever people have fun buying; also I’d like to buy her a desk or bureau of that Indian inlaid wood (mother of pearl?) to remember the trip. Of course, we must both be fitted for saris, as my daughter has said she wants to wear them throughout our trip! And any fun family activities would be great.
One of our writers Amanda Jones recently went to India with her nine-year-old daughter. Their experience, which she wrote up for an LA Times article), involved camel rides across the desert (during their stay at Manvar), snake charming performances and buzzing bazaars full of tie-dye, bangles and little boys selling “magic”. To help your daughter make sense of the colorful Hindu culture and all its regalia (like the Bindi which she will certainly wear on her forehead), buy some children’s books such as The Ramayana for Young Readers (available at Amazon) which illuminates The Ramayana, one of Hinduism’s major epics or Elephant Prince: the Story of Ganesh (available at Amazon), which explains the origin and importance of Hinduism’s elephant deity. (These books also provide a fast and easy way for adults to learn more about the pervasive Hindu culture.)
You might also want to brief your daughter on the poverty she is likely to witness. Amanda’s article also discusses the shock her daughter experiences when observing young children collecting roadside cow dung to use as coal and Hindu women, clad in exquisite saris, toiling away in the desert.
GENERAL SHOPPING ADVICE
Your best bets are going to be in Jaipur and Delhi, so take a look at our shopping sections and as well as the specifics on the Discussion Boards. If you would like to be connected with a personal shopper or a family guide in any area of India, our bookings and advisory department can arrange that as well.
Jodhpur is well-known for its tie-dyed fabrics most of which can be picked up at bazaars like Lakhara, which also specializes in colorful bangle bracelets. The shopping here should be fairly obvious—most of the bazaars right outside the Palace have a lot of fun stuff as does the market near the Clock Tower.
The Maharajah of Jodphur, who does the most sensitive restorations in Rajasthan, has added a cafe within the walls of the city’s 15th century Meherangarh fort that respects its environs the way those in many U.S. museums do. It’s fabulous!
Be wary when shopping in Agra, which is apparently rife with scamming vendors, overpriced goods and a number of people (including drivers) who get commissions for bringing you to them—so you’re probably not in for a bargain if you follow anyone to any shops. The deceptively named Cottage Industries Exposition there is not the same as the government-subsidized Cottage Industries Emporium (located throughout India) that are both recommended on the Discussion Boards. Some reasonably priced inlay work, an Agra specialty, can be found at the government-owned or approved shops (a jewelry box would also be less cumbersome and pricy than a desk).
Obviously the highlight in Agra is the Taj Mahal, but if you have extra time, an interesting stop is Kohinoor Jewellers (41 MG Road), a jewelry shop and tapestry museum with incredible needlepoint panels. Buy jewelry in Jaipur but come here to see the tapestries. Many works by the late Indian artist Shams Uddin, considered the founder of three-dimensional embroidery, are on display, including 23 wildlife scenes, many of which are embedded with thousands of semi-precious stones.
See our Delhi insider report and our style section as well as the discussion boards for advice on Delhi shopping. You might want to consider a quick stop at Khan Market, where you will find lots of book/stationary stores and upscale clothing shops like the above-mentioned and recommended Fab-India (http://www.fabindia.com; locations throughout India); it is, however, a very Westernized shopping area so you should definitely venture out and see the bazaars as well.
Finally, Jaipur has amazing shopping, with the consensus being that the city’s Gem Palace is the best place to go for precious jewelry. Hot Pink, that is actually partially owned by the same woman who runs Gem Palace is also a must see. For other recommendations, see the recently-updated shopping section of our Jaipur insider report.
Polo—both horse and elephant—is a popular Jaipur sport. Horse polo officially starts in January and elephant polo matches can be arranged within a minimum of two days notice; if you are interested in either or private cooking or yoga classes, you should contact our booking department. Elephant rides up to Amber Fort and village safaris (see discussion boards where a member recommends the village of Chokhi Dhani) are other great family-friendly activities.
Read about traveling off the beaten path in India
Read an insider report on Delhi
To help you plan your itinerary or to see sample itineraries, contact our advisory team by calling 212-988-2611 or send an inquiry
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