Silk weaving is the most popular art of Varanasi and renowned Banarasi silk sarees made here form an essential part of not only an Indian bride's ward robe but also in the ward robe of women attending marriages. Banarasi silk sarees are also worn by Indian women for attending functions and also during festivals. Local silk is a popular buy and is frequently exported to places abroad. The world-famous gold and silver brocades and richly worked sarees are known to have passed on from generations to generations much like family jewels without losing their charm. Besides Banarasi sarees and brocades, you may opt for wonderful pieces of brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys and antique designs of heavy gold jewellery in Varanasi. Blue pottery from Chunar and stone sculptures are also cute takeaways as mementoes from this historic land.

Another shopping attractions of Varanasi include the hand-knotted carpets of Mirzapur, musical instruments, the 'khatta-meetha' (sweet 'n' sour) pickle, 'Langda Aam', a popular variety of mangoes available during summer season and the famous betel leaf that is considered another specialty of the place. Banarasi people can be seen chewing betel leaves as a part of their cultural upbringing and they even welcome their guests by offering them these famous betel leaves. The unique Bhadohi, Mirzapur carpets demonstrate sophisticated detail and are excellent value for money when considering the workmanship that goes into making them. Handicrafts in Varanasi include carved wooden sculptures as well as beautifully crafted musical instruments, Varanasi being a centre of music and the arts. Classical Indian musical instruments available include the tabla and sitar. For women, huge varieties of glass beads and bangles are for sale, with colours to match every saree.

Places for shopping in Varanasi are Chowk & Vishwanath Gali, for silk brocade and jewellery; Thatheri Bazaar, for brass works; Lahurabir & Godaulia, for silk; Nai Sadak, for road side cloth market; Dalmandi, for assorted items and Golghar. Besides the illustrious and fine silks and brocaded fabrics, one can also buy shawls, carpets, wall hangings, Zari work, stone inlay work, glass beads, glass bangles, masks of Hindu and Buddhist deities and lampshades. You can also buy 'kamandal' or brass water pot from Varanasi, which is often used by saints to carry water. People buy bottled 'Ganga jal' or jerrycans from the riverbank for religious purposes and for the use as Holy Water in various rituals. Besides, people can also take water of Ganges themselves from the river. Check out the State run emporium in Godaulia, Lahurabir and the Chowk. You can also check Handloom outlets at Lahurabir, Nadesar and Neechi Bag, and Mahatex in Godaulia for fixed prices and assured quality. Sales become aggressive when it comes to silk, and you need be wary of the quality and genuineness. The government-run emporiums have the advantage of fixed prices and it is the best as well as safest place to buy silk like Upica.

Few top-end hotels in the city have their own boutiques located inside the hotel or nearby, but these are normally extremely overpriced. You may avoid these tourist traps and stick to the more popular shopping areas for excellent value for money. Opt for the government-run emporium who offer fixed prices and reliable quality. Visitors are approached by 'middlemen' in the streets who work on a commission basis. These men can be useful if there is a particular product you want to buy and don't know where to look, but if you are just browsing you will probably have a more relaxed shopping experience on your own as there will be no pressure to buy anything. Remember to bargain hard and be wary of fake items and scams. The majority of conventional shopping can be found in the narrow lanes crowded with people. These lanes are lined up with shops selling brass and trinket, fake gold pieces, silks and flower garlands. The raw silk is used to make beautiful scarfs, saris and clothing. The city also offers a variety of tailors to custom make garments out of the silk bought. Also, Varanasi has many silk factories which may be visited. The owner will take you on a tour of his factory in the hope that you will buy something from the showroom at the end. It is also important that one does not get tricked or fall prey to persistent sellers. Some traders will try to sell travellers polyester rather than real silk, or at least a less fine quality of it. It is important to have an idea between the fake and real before buying anything.

Keeping the preferences of tourists in mind the city has developed an Urban Haat where artisans (State and National Awarded) from various states are brought together to showcase the handicrafts of India daily on roster basis for 15 Days. The compound of Haat is provided with all basic public amenities including food plazas.

Venue: Urban Haat, Sanskritik Sankul, Maqbool Alam Road, Chowka Ghat, Varanasi.

Entry Ticket: Two Rupees

Timing: Daily 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Souvenir Shops and Malls in Varanasi

  •     M/s Jalan, Durgakund: For clothing and other variety of things.

  •     M/s Jalan, Gyanvapi: For clothing and other variety of things.

  •     M/s Jalan, Chowk: For clothing and other variety of things.

  •     M/s Jalan, Kachehari: For clothing and other variety of things.

  •     M/s Mehrotra Silk Factory, Englishia Line, Varanasi. It is a fixed-priced shop.

  •     M/s J. R. Ivory, Arts & Curios, Vishwanath Gali, Varanasi.

  •     M/s Baba Black Sheep, Bhelupur, It is a fixed-priced shop.

  •     M/s Bhagwan Leela Sports, Sindhu Nagar Colony, Sigra, Varanasi..

  •     M/s Mohan Silk Store, Vishvanath Gali, Varanasi.

  •     M/s Bhagwan Store, Vishvanath Gali, Varanasi.

  •     M/s Chaudhari Brothers, Thatheri Bazar, Varanasi

  •     M/s Mahalaxmi Sari House, Chandrika Colony, Sigra, Varanasi.

  •     M/s Bhagwan Silks Sarnath, Varanasi.

  •     IP Mall, Sigra Varanasi

  •     JHV, The Mall, Cantt.

  •     Modern Reception Centre, Sarnath

  •     Shivansh Handicraft, Pandey Ghat, Varanasi.

  •     Universal Book Company, Varanasi - Also stocks art and photography books.

  •     Harmony Bookshop, Varanasi – Located at Assi Ghat

  •     Shri Gandhi Ashram Khadi, Varanasi - It is a fixed-priced shop

  •     Banares Art & Culture, Varanasi - It is a fixed-priced shop