Monday, 5 March 2012

Shopping at Leh

Indian tourists visiting any destination in India or abroad, will more often than not return with at least a few bulging shopping  bags.  One is not surprised to see them buying some ‘Made in India’ tee-shirts from supermarkets in USA or UK.  So, buying Tee-shirts at Leh town which has actually been stitched in some small scale unit in Gujarat is no great deal! But, what makes one buy a few of them is, every such shop has a tailor who stitches a plethora of designs, in front or back of tee-shirt. The designs which are popular are, map of Leh – Ladakh with indication of high altitude destinations; or it could be the good luck charm geometric pattern; or any design you may fancy.  On average each tee-shirt costs Rs. 200/-. If one is lucky three of them may cost mere Rs. 500/-.
Leh being situated at an altitude of 11,500/-, it is cold round the year, except the late summer months of July/August/September.  Hence it is no surprise that, there are many shops selling clothing to combat different degrees of cold climate. The stuff is mostly imported from China, Korea and other Asian counties. A jacket capable of combating 5 to 10 degrees Celsius with thick woolen linings may sell for Rs. 1200/- to Rs 1800/-, depending on quality and county of origin. A pair of gloves for combating -22 degree Celsius will set you back by Rs. 150/-. But the quality is suspect.  Most of the shops selling woolen clothing do not offer bargain; hence it is better to scour a few more shops before selecting; Leh is such a small place, if one is willing to walk for two hours, he may have seen it all. 

Food items like honey, dry fruits etc. can be purchased at Dzomsa a chain of shops; three of them scattered at different locations in Leh. Following photo shows the inside of Dzomsa on Fort Road displaying food items and books. 
Dzomsa Shop
More adventurous ones can buy dry fruits like Akhrots, apricot seeds, raisins, spread and sold on road side, somewhere between main market and Jama Masjid. 

A typical ‘gifts and presents’  shop in Leh, is well stocked with Thangkas ( painted scrolls, which can be used as wall hangings ), the miniature black and white Yaks, for decorating a table, replicas of Tibetan prayer wheels, Buddhist paintings and many other items.
Curio Shop
Plethora of Thangkas or painted scrolls dispalayed, are in great demand.

Buddhist prayer wheels where prayers are inscribed could be pricey but a nice souvenir to take home.
Prayer Wheels
Near Jama Masjid one finds a books and CD shop, where, books on Tibetan and Ladakhi literature, one can thumb through. The music CD’s have some lilting tunes created on meditation and the beautiful mountain high altitude scenario. 

Turquoise coloured Ladakhi gem stone is very popular item for those who want to buy some jewellery. Pendants, necklace, ear-rings made up of gem stones, encased in silver, is very popular. Jama Masjid area by-lanes have many shops to attract this class of clientele. Jewellery being priced on higher side of the budget, it is better to be accompanied by a local Ladakhi guide, whom you may have engaged for your travel safaris. If loaded with good tips, they will more often than not see that you get a good bargain; unless you are an expert in this stuff and want to venture on your own. We found our driver for jeep safaris, making every effort to get us a good bargain in all our shopping expeditions.  
Ladakhi stone jewelry
Apart from Leh town, Thiksey museum offers a lot of Ladakhi artifacts, CD’s with lilting tunes befitting the Trans-Himalayan mystic.  

As in Indian psyche Bhajan and Bhojan go together, so is shopping and hogging! We somehow, most of the time ended up at Lamayuru Restaurant for our vegetarian food ( eggs included ) and for Non-Veg food just crossed the street to Best food restaurant.  Service at Best Food restaurant is not at its best, you may have to hold on to your hunger pangs for 45 minutes or more. But if you have the endurance, it will be worth it. The best food I tasted at this restaurant was Rice – Chicken sizzler; not too pricey at Rs. 150.

Following video clips created by author is as per the captioned link:

Curio Shopping at Leh - Ladakh 

Dzomsa for Shopping at Leh - Ladakh