We know Himachal for its lovely landscapes, its snow-covered mountains, its red apples, its wood and stone architecture. We visit Himachal for fresh air, for its cold desert and its adventure sports. What do you bring back with you from this Dev bhumi – this divine land? I think good health and loads of positive energy is what we all bring back from Himachal. For those back home, we have curated a list of Himachal Souvenirs that you can pick.
Himachal Souvenirs Shopping in Shimla Manali
Himachali Topi or Cap
You see someone with a round cap sitting delicately on their hands with a bright band in front, and you know the person is from Himachal. Interestingly, Himachali Topi or Cap are unisex and they are worn both by men and women. It is a lovely souvenir to pick from Himachal. Readily available in most touristy places or otherwise in the markets. They are not very costly so most of us can afford it.
However, there is no standard Himachali topi. Each region of Himachal has its own Topi – Kinaauri, Kullavi, Bushari, and, Lahauli. They are similar in shape, but it is the design that distinguishes them. You can literally look at the topi and identify the region the person comes from. On a Shimla Manali Road trip, you can see all of them.
Kinnauri Topi – It comes with a bright parrot green color band with a red border
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Bushari Topi – Very similar to Kinnauri Topi, but the color of the border is golden.
Kullu Topi – The band on this topi is colorful with geometric designs.
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Lahauli Topi – Very similar to Kullu topi but less ornamental.
There is a plain white version now called Malana Topi and then there is one with a crimson red color that looks bright and cheerful.
Used frequently during festivals and celebrations it is a piece of Himachali culture to carry back with you.
Himachal has a cold climate, making warm clothing an absolute necessity. It also has an abundance of wool providing animals like sheep. No wonder wool weaving has evolved as an art form in Himachal. Shawls here have simple but elegant designs. They are worn by both men and women. As expected, the men’s shawls called ‘Loi’ or ‘Pattu’ are larger in size and rather plain. Women’s shawls come with a strip of geometrical colorful patterns. While beige and light colors dominate, the border adds the vibrance. Sometimes you find floral patterns as well.
There is a wide variety of colors, designs, and price ranges depending on the type of wool used and the intricacy of designs.
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Do check out Dhoru – a woolen shawl with a heavy embroidery border on the back. It is heel length shawl that is worn from shoulders to the heels.
Chamba Rumal as the name indicates comes from the Chamba region of Himachal, and Ruman means handkerchief. It is a beautifully hand embroidered piece of silk or fine cotton, usually telling a story. You can see scenes from Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. A reflection of the miniature art that is practiced in this region is unmissable.
It is said that one of the earliest known Rumal was embroidered by Bibi Nanaki, the sister of Guru Nanak Dev Ji for him. It is usually used as a gift or used to cover gifts during weddings and other festivities.
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Chamba Ruman has a GI tag tying it firmly to its land of origin.
Himachal is known for its lovely Pahari Miniature paintings. Any museum worth its salt in the country has a collection of these exquisite paintings. Kangra, Chamba, Guler, and Basholi schools of miniature paintings are known for their exquisiteness. Whole epics have been painted in these paintings in the past.
While to find and own one would cost you a fortune, many new age artists are re-creating these paintings. Some of them are adopting the styles for new age themes. Do check them out in the markets of Manali and Shimla.
Thangkas are Buddhist paintings that have their own distinct style. You find them in the Buddhist belt, right from Ladakh to Nepal to Sikkim and Bhutan. Himachal also has regions like Lahaul and Spiti that are distinctly Buddhist, so Thangkas can be found here too.
These paintings depict Buddhist deities, the life of Buddha, and many geometric drawings known as Mandalas. Mostly these are ritual paintings used for many Buddhist festivals. They are usually scrolled and kept away and brought out for worship from time to time. See this giant Thangka being rolled out at a monastery in Leh.
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You can buy them easily in the streets of the popular tourist town of Himachal.
The Dorje is often used in meditation rituals as a symbol of the union between the experiences of everyday life, and the state of being that we live in unity with nature and all that surrounds us. It is the principal ritual trident of Tantric Buddhism.
They make beautiful mementos or gift items. You can pick one up while shopping at Old Manali.
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Himachali Jewelry as Souvenir
Every region of India has its own distinct style of jewelry. In Himachal, you find a lot of silver jewelry.
Some of the typical Himachali pieces include:
Chaakk – A Silver ornament that they wear on the top of their head.
Chiiri – This is a piece of jewelry that is similar to Maangtika.
Jhumka – A type of earrings that is popular jewelry across the state.
Chanderhar – A type of necklace with a pendant that is put on for special occasions.
Toke – A Band that is worn around the wrist that is never or very rarely removed.
Pari – An accessory that is worn around the foot ankle like a small foot necklace.
Himachal Souvenirs for the Foodies
Apples – If you want to enjoy fresh apples visit around August September. You can literally pluck them and eat before seeing them in full glory on the trees. We have already written about the History of Apples in the Himachal. Do read.
Apart from Apple, you can also pick up Apple candy, jam, juice, and pulp.
Pears – This is the second most popular fruit to pick up in Himachal. Its season coincides with the Apple season, so if you visit in August, you can enjoy pears too.
Pine Nut or Chilgoza – This is a dry fruit that is grown in some parts of Himachal.
These edible nuts grow on Pine trees. Loaded with nutrients they are crunchy, nutty with a buttery flavor. There are more than 30 different species of pine nuts available, only 3 of them are used for human consumption. Chilgoza is covered in a hard shell, the outer covering should be removed before eating the nut.
The best place to pick-up it is the local markets of Rekong Peo.
Plums, Persimmon, Kafal berries, etc exotic seasonal local fruits grow in this region. Try them if you a
Siddu is a local side-dish of Himachal that compliments the main course. Prepared painstakingly with a fermented mixture of wheat and yeast, it is a steamed delicacy. Siddu is served with a generous amount of desi ghee. It can easily be found in the local restaurants of Himachal Pradesh to give tourists a flavor of Himachali cuisine.
Woodcraft of Himachal
A trip to the hills is incomplete without exploring its woodcraft. Shimla, in fact, has its famous handicrafts market called “Lakkar Bazaar”, literally meaning the Wood Market. Here you can find toys, walking sticks, Shimla sceneries, key rings, pen stands, clips kitchenware, trays, and varied other memorable things out of wood. Staffs were made from the wood of Rauns Trees, which grow in the Bhagi and Khadrala area of upper Shimla.
Places to buy Himachal Souvenirs in Shimla
The Himachal Emporium is located on the Mall road in Shimla. There is also a great range of Kangra silks and Kinnauri shawls. The shop also has a great collection of locally designed woolens, pottery items, and jewelers. The best part about this shop is that it is run by the Himachal Pradesh Government. This makes the handicrafts genuine, and also the prices are pocket-friendly and reasonable.
This beautiful and amazing market will provide you with wooden items. One can get wooden toys, pens, key chains, and other souvenirs in the market. You can bargain as much as you want in these shops as well! The market is situated on the left side of the Christ Church. It is a favorite shopping place for tourists in Shimla.
The famous Lavi fair of Rampur is held in the month of Kartika, roughly in November. For ages, this fair enabled trade between the erstwhile Bushahr State and Tibet. The woolen goods, dry fruits, and medicinal herbs brought by Tibetans are purchased by local people and traders of the plains. Foodgrains, clothes, and utensils are sold to them. It is a very old fair which is related to the sale and purchase of goods. ‘Natti’ dances and cultural shows are the main attractions.
This fair is celebrated at a place about 6 KMs from Shimla-Kotkhai road near Mahasu village on the 3rd Tuesday in the month of Baisakha for two days. The fair is a very old one and is held in front of the Durga Devi temple by a large gathering. ‘Natti’ dances and folk songs are performed. Archery game is the main attraction of entertainment. It is a good place to pick up absolutely local Himachal souvenirs.
Do share your favorite Himachal Souvenirs in the comments.
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