World ? Asia ? India ? Mumbai

Mumbai: Shopping

From internationally renowned haute couture to dirt-cheap one-season wonders, intricate jewelry and unique antiques to tawdry gifts and fabulous textiles, Mumbai is known as a shopper's paradise, and you'll find pretty much everything the country has to offer here. If you're shopping on the street or in the markets, take your time, sift and sort, establish authenticity, and, if necessary, don't be afraid to bargain hard. That said, bear in mind that (as elsewhere in India) a "bargain," particularly when it comes to jewelry and antiques, is probably a cheap bauble or reproduction -- fakes are a dime a dozen, as are the con men who sell them. Besides the areas described below, you will find that the suburb of Bandra has become a local shopping haven, with Linking Road, Hill Road, and several other streets overflowing with shops and street stalls selling clothes, shoes, and everything else under the sun. In addition, Western-style multistory department stores like Shopper's Stop and Globus are filled with all kinds of garments and fashions. If you're shopping in Bandra, make time to visit the very upmarket Frazer and Haws store (Landmark Building, Pali Naka, Bandra; tel. 022/6675-0200), which carries eclectic and funky silver objets d'art, including sleek idols of Indian gods and goddesses like Ganesha and Laxmi. Also in Bandra are Fab India and dozens of trendy jewelry stores. In fact, most major stores listed below have a parallel store in Bandra/Juhu, so if you're based in the suburbs, call and check before making a trip downtown.

Clothing, Fabric & Home Textiles

Colaba, Fort & Marine Drive -- Central Cottage Industries Emporium (behind Regal Cinema; tel. 022/2202-6564 or -7537; daily 10am-7pm) is the large, government-owned, fixed-price shop aimed at tourists, with a reputation for carrying well-crafted items that offer relatively good value (not the cheapest stuff out there but you won't get ripped off). Established during the late 1940s in an attempt to sustain traditional handicrafts, the massive showroom is crammed full of everything and anything that's likely to remind you of India. At the very least, a visit here will give you an idea of what items should more or less cost. A better shopping experience, at least from a store and design point of view, is The Bombay Store (Sir P.M. Rd., Fort; tel. 022/2288-5048, -5049, or -5052; Mon-Sat 10:30am-7:30pm, Sun 10:30am-6:30pm), where you'll find every imaginable Indian handicraft and design, from bed linens and crockery to incense and aromatherapy oils. And if you're looking for another reason to book into the Taj Mahal Hotel, it's worth knowing that the in-house shops are stocked with sought-after international and Indian brands and products (particularly Pashmina shawls, from simple water Pashminas at around Rs 2000/$49/ţ26 to high-end quality ones for around Rs 10,000/$244/ţ123), though obviously you pay a price for the convenience of location, and the shopping experience is relatively sterile. The same holds true for the in-house shop at the Trident Towers.

Having created garments for Hillary Clinton, Demi Moore, and Liza Minnelli, and earned the accolades "Crystal King" and "Czar of Embroidery," Azeem Khan is one of Mumbai's best-known designers. To find your very own slice of Indian haute couture, visit Azeem Khan Couture in Colaba (1 Usha Sadan; tel. 022/2215-1028; www.azeemkhan.com). Ensemble (Great Western Building, 130/132 Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Kala Ghoda/Fort; tel. 022/2287-2882, 022/2284-3227, or -5118) is an upmarket boutique, owned by designer Tarun Tahiliani, where you will find the greatest variety of East-meets-West evening wear; besides his own creations, prominent designers to look for here include Rajesh Pratap, Monisha Jaisingh, Tarana Rajpal, Abhishek Gupta, and Sunita Shankar. At the far end of Colaba (away from the Taj) is The Courtyard (Minoo Desai Marg, Apollo Bunder), where chic boutiques are filled with goods from a range of Indian designers; do stop at the very chic Hot Pink (tel. 022/6638-5482) and Abraham and Thakore (tel. 022/6638-5486). For cheap, casual, well-cut cottons, Cotton World, near Indigo restaurant, is the perfect stop. At Indian Textiles (Taj Mahal Hotel; tel. 022/2202-8783 or 022/2204-9278), you'll find some of the best Benarasi woven silks and brocades in the country, sold by the yard, as well as authentic Pashmina shawls. Also look for hand-dyed silk stoles by Jamnadas Khatri (tel. 022/2242-5711 or -2277). Hand-loomed products are found in abundance at fabulous Fab India (Jeroo Building, 137 M.G. Rd., Kala Ghoda; tel. 022/2262-6539; other outlets in Bandra).

If you've loved the furnishings at many of the Taj hotels around the country, make your way to Zeba in Colaba or Worli (Bhaveshwar, 148-B, Dr. Annie Besant Rd., Worli Naka, tel. 022/2495-3711; also at Royal Terrace, 58 Wodehouse Rd., Colaba, tel. 022/2218-8797) for extensive collections of highly desirable home textiles, accessories, carpets, and dhurries in great original styles. Zeba is owned by the flamboyant Krsna Mehta, whose outfit creates in-house designs for its textiles in cotton, silk, jute, and a range of graceful fabrics, using both earthy and vibrant colors. Zeba will custom-design any living space. Yamini (President House, Wodehouse Rd., Colaba; tel. 022/2218-4143 or -4145; also in Bandra, tel. 022/2646-3645) stocks designer linen, tablecloths, bolsters, curtains, bed covers, napkins, and even lampshades. Also at Colaba (near Indigo restaurant) is Maspar (Sunny building, Mandlik Rd.; tel. 022/2287-5619) a new store with quality home furnishings in contemporary designs and beautiful colors.

If quality is all that matters and price is not a concern, Ravissant (17A Cooperage Rd., New India Assurance Centre; tel. 022/2287-3405) has a selection of sterling-silver teapots, vases, photo frames, and assorted stylish collectibles that sport clean modern lines and hark back to the Deco period.

If you're fascinated by saris but don't know where to begin, make your way to Kala Niketan (tel. 022/2200-5001 or -4952) at Marine Lines, where you will be bowled over by the stunning variety, colors, and over-the-top service. Salesmen not only assist you with your purchase, but can help you get a blouse stitched and offer serious tips on how to drape that gorgeous fabric.

Chowpatty, Pedder Road, Napean Sea Road -- Contemporary Arts and Crafts, in the residential neighborhood of Napean Sea Road (near Kemps Corner; tel. 022/2363-1979; Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm), has tasteful and sometimes uncommon gifts from all over India. Famous Indian designer Ritu Kumar has several outlets specializing in silk and cotton designer-ethnic wear, much of it a blend of Western and Indian influences. Ritu's Boutique can be found on Warden Road (tel. 022/2367-8593 or -2947) as well as at Trident Towers and Phoenix Mills. Another boutique that is a must-see for fashionistas is Mȳlange (33 Altamount Rd., Kemps Corner; tel. 022/2353-4492 or 022/2353-9628), known for its ultra-feminine designer dresses made from delicate chiffon. If you don't plan to visit Jaipur, stop at the Mumbai branch of Anokhi (Rasik Nivas, Metro Motors Lane, off Hughes Rd.; tel. 022/2368-5761), for its East-meets-West garments, accessories, and housewares. Nearby is the turquoise-walled Neemrana store (Opera House; tel. 022/2361-4436), with its gorgeous ethnic designs.

India's most famous dhurrie designer is Shyam Ahuja (78 India House, Kemps Corner; tel. 022/2386-7372; also an outlet store in the far-out suburb of Thane), known for outstanding and expensive hand-woven products. Besides gorgeous home furnishings, table linen, bathrobes, and towels, you can purchase authentic Pashmina shawls here.

Jewelry

Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (241/43 Zaveri Bazaar; tel. 022/2342-5001 or -5002), stretching over five separate floors, has a reputation for exceptional gold and diamond jewelry that dates back to 1865. It's very popular with Mumbai's wealthier crowd, so don't expect exceptionally good prices. Gazdar (Taj Mahal Hotel shopping arcade; tel. 022/2202-3666) has been selling Indian, Western, antique, and contemporary jewelry since 1933; again, the prices go with the territory. Serious buyers looking for one-of-a-kind pieces should consider contacting Paulomi Sanghavi (Hughes Rd.; tel. 022/2367-6114 or 022/6634-7475; personal meetings by appointment only) or you can browse her unique ready-made designs in the store. Alternatively, walk into any one of the numerous jewelry stores along Hughes Road, such as U. T. Zaveri (Dharam Palace; tel. 022/2367-9575), where the designs are unusual and the salespeople extremely helpful.

Antiques, Art & Furniture

For real antique finds and colonial furniture, there's no place like Chor Bazaar's Mutton Street (closed Fri), which is a wonderful place at which to browse and discover hidden treasures. You'll spot plenty of imitation antiques and faux products here, but these are usually pretty easy to identify. Store owners will often (but not always) tell you which are genuine items and which are reproductions. If, however, walking through dirty streets and sifting through dusty shops is not your cup of tea, head straight for the more established antiques stores in the city, some of the best of which are downtown in Colaba. Natesan's Antiqarts (tel. 022/2285-2700), conveniently located at Jehangir Art Gallery, deals principally in stone, wood, and bronze items. Whether you pick up an ornate teak and sandalwood carving, a bronze piece created using the 4,500-year-old lost-wax process, or a refurbished antique, Natesan's will arrange shipment. Nearby Phillips Antiques (opposite Prince of Wales Museum, Colaba; tel. 022/2202-0564 or 022/2282-0782; www.phillipsantiques.com) offers a similar service; besides four-poster beds, armchairs, writing tables, and hat stands, you'll find gorgeous porcelain and pottery, brass and silverware, and a range of marble items for the home, not to mention ornamental pieces, antiquarian maps, lithographs, engravings, old photographs, and lovely lamps. Filled with beautiful objects, Heeramaneck (below Hotel Suba Palace, Battery St., Colaba; tel. 022/2202-1778 or 022/2285-6340) is another essential pit stop for antiques lovers. It has an especially good collection of Victorian and Indian silverware, including tea sets, candle stands, and sometimes cutlery as well.

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