Shopping in Kashmir is both fascinating and annoying. Gulmarg
is great for a range of shopping, as is Srinagar, however Dal Lake probably edges toward the annoying end of the scale.
Grocery Shopping Gulmarg
The market area of Gulmarg provides all the basics for survival. Loads of tiny shops with fantastically stacked goods crammed into every nook and cranny sell everything from breakfast cereal to detergent. There are several fruit and vegie vendors as well. The mandarins are particularly good and help fight off the scurvy!
Alcohol in Gulmarg
Being a Muslim state, alcohol is not freely available (or indeed acceptable) in a lot of places, so one good option is to stock up at the airport duty free shop. Alternatively in addition to its few bars, Gulmarg has a secret bottle shop as well. It has no signpost but is easy to find if you know where to look. It is situated behind the Gulmarg Ski Shop in the market area. You need to walk around the back of the building and go to a very small ‘hole in the wall’. They have beer, whiskey and vodka. The beer is 50 to 100% cheaper than what you’ll pay in one of the bars.
Gulmarg Ski Shops
Limited gear rentals are available from the two ski shops in Gulmarg. The bigger range of powder skis is available from the Gulmarg Ski Shop in the market area. The Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop near Hotel Highland Park has a smaller range of skis and gear.
General Shopping Gulmarg
There are no department stores in Kashmir so the shopping experience is intimate in small family run shops stocking specialty items that are handmade and local in origin. Items of interest include jewellery, pashminas, ornaments, intricately carved furniture made from local timbers such as walnut, handmade clothing (leather, fur, wool, cotton & linen), delicately decorated linen Manchester (sheets, pillow cases, table cloths etc.), gorgeous rugs, shawls & brass knick knacks. The list goes on. Some shops will package and mail larger items (like rugs) back home for you.
Here are examples of some of the better shops in Gulmarg.
Khan Cloth House
is in the market diagonally opposite the appalling Hotel Kingsley. Get fitted for a tailored western version of the Kashmiri Faran (a long woollen over robe worn by most Kashmiri’s). They also do pashminas plus other shawls and clothing. You’ll get served some lovely Kashmiri tea while you chat to Mr Khan. This is a great Gulmarg experience.
Ladakh Art Palace
(located within the Hotel Highland Park complex) has a huge range of jewellery, clothing, antiques and other handicrafts.
(located next to the Ladakh Art Palace) specialises in beautiful linen products plus other clothing and carpets.
Shopping in Srinagar is best done with a local guide. Yousef and Rasool from the H.B. New Sherin in Dal Lake can set you up with a great trip into Srinagar to shop for the local specialties. Contact Rasool by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course check your government’s quarantine website regarding goods that cannot be brought back into your country.
Thankfully not a whole lot of standard ski resort souvenirs are available, but t-shirts can be purchased from a little stall near the gondola base and also from the GCI Emporium next to the Kashmir Alpine Ski Shop near Hotel Highlands Park. Otherwise the best souvenir might be a tailored Faran from the Khan Cloth House or some other locally fashioned handicrafts.