If your idea of a ‘unique India souvenir’ is a Ganesha trinket or a cheap hippie bag, then read on. We’ve scoured India’s best concept stores and design studios to pick some of our favorite gifts to bring back home.
‘Sar: The Essence of Indian Design’ book
1 Indian households harbor a wealth of interesting objects: chai glasses, tiffin boxes, stainless steel plate racks and the ubiquitous Bata sneaker are all inherently Indian, though hardly ever talked about. The authors of Sar set off on a trip around the country to research and photograph more than 200 of these everyday items (from religious relics to contemporary crafts), resulting in a beautiful coffee table book that explores the many facets of classic and modern Indian design. A must-have for anyone with even a slight interest in art, design or the Indian vernacular.
Where to find it: Available at India’s bigger bookstores or online via phaidon.com.
Perfume by Bombay Perfumery
2 From balmy, sea-side afternoons in Goa to long conversations with a cup of steaming chai up in the Northern Mountains -Mumbai-based Bombay Perfumery managed to bottle memories of adventures from all over India in a range of luxurious fragrances. Pick up the flowery Moiré with undertones of tuberose and apricot for her, or bring back the woody Calicut with hints of bergamot, black pepper and cedar wood for him.
Where to find it: Available at concept stores like Vayu in Delhi, Theatro Dhora in Jaipur, Le Mill in Mumbai, or online via bombayperfumery.com.
Tea by No.3 Clive Road
3 Tea is an integral part of life for most Indians, and it’s very likely that you’ll have knocked back liters of it during your trip. Relive some of your India memories back home with the luxurious blends by boutique tea brand No.3 Clive Road. Pick a blend that reflects your route (they have blends inspired by Varanasi, Jodhpur, Kashmir, Madurai and many others) or opt for a gift box filled with several of their favorites.
4 From block printing to silk weaving, India’s textile works are deeply embedded in its culture. Nowadays, these crafts are still being honored by some of our favorite contemporary Indian fashion brands like The Summer House (for her) and Shift (for him and her). Natural fabrics, modern silhouettes and a hint of everyday India are recurring themes in their collections, which make for great gifts for those who love Scandinavian- and Japanese-inspired fashion. As both brands focus on sustainable and ethical business practices, the clothes will dress up your karma too.
5 From his studio in New Delhi’s Hauz Khaz Village, graphic artist, ceramist and storyteller Aman Khanna created Claymen – a collection of both functional and non-functional ceramics. Pick up one of his quirky small sculptures (created with the notion that “man is losing his humanity and becoming a thing amongst the things he produces.”) or opt for something more functional: a range of glazed clay cups, bottles, planters and plates that fit every interior.
Where to find it: Available at the Claymen Studio in Delhi, Clove in Mumbai, or online via claymen.in
Junaili oils and scrubs
6 When it comes to natural beauty products with a luxurious appeal, the ‘Himalayan Apothecary’ Junaili does it right. Produced in small batches by a family in the Uttarakhand state, their cold-pressed apricot oil receives raving reviews from beauty bloggers all over India. The oils are 100% pure, chemical-free and are packed beautifully in a gift-ready box – making it a perfect present. Added bonus: the oils make you smell like an almond cookie.
Where to find it: Available at Clove in Mumbai, Ishana at Delhi Airport or online via junaili.in
7 India’s syrupy sweets probably won’t survive the 10+ hour journey home, so bring back some Allthings Chocolate for your sweet-toothed friends. Rich, Belgian chocolate is paired with surprising ingredients such as sangria reduction, ginger, sea salt or apple crumble and packed into a beautifully designed wrapper. Flavors are inspired by cities, childhood memories and Indian poets: we love the dark Jaipur bar with hints of whiskey, and the Goa bar with bebinca (an Indian-Portuguese dessert) and drum roasted cashew nuts. At roughly $5.50 a bar, we suggest you to take both.
Where to find it: Available in multiple cafes around the country and online via theallthingsshop.com
👉 Also check: Vernacular frenzy — 11 everyday India souvenirs