The Indian bazaar - a place that puts your temptation resistance skills at test. They are stuffed with bright and beautiful things - handicrafts, silks, ethnic jewelry, curios and what have you. You can shop till you drop. Read more to be a smart shopper in India.
First, the thumb rule - get the right bargain. This stands for all items that don't come with an MRP (Maximum Retail Price) stamp like clothes, jewelry, leather goods, carpets, paintings etc. Don't grab the first good-looking thing and pay extra bucks for it. And who knows....it might be fake or of poor quality. Always, always look around, compare prices and then buy.
Exporting items like ivory, fur, animal skins, antiquities etc. is illegal. If you must have it, obtain a certificate of legitimate sale and permission for export before leaving the country.
If you don't see what you're looking for in a store, ask. There's more than meets the eye ! Most stores have little display space, so much of the stoSck is above the ceiling or in a separate room.
Visit the various state emporia and the Central Cottage Industries Emporia (most major cities have one like Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc.) The prices here are fixed and will give you a fair idea of the cost with a regular dealer.
If you need a delivery, ask if the price includes delivery charges. Be ready to pay additional customs (generally 20% of the cost) and handling charges (normally a 10% of the total value of the good).
Never, never believe the touts (they hang around the tourist-y spots and cities) who promise to take you to the best shop around and get you the best bargain. They usually have their handsome commissions built into the cost.
Those sparkling gems and patterned carpets look very attractive but the market is flooded with imitations. You don't want to pay for a 'real' one and get a fake, do you? Be sure you know the grain from the chaff !
Just a suggestion : While buying carpets, look for one with a Smiling Carpet label - these come from factories that do not employ child labor.