A bustling market in the heart of the holy city, Vishwanath Gali is where you can find all things local and traditional. While the market largely caters to pilgrims headed to the nearby Kashi Vishwanath Temple, it is also buzzing with a number of shops that sell Banarasi sarees, dress materials, religious books, statues and jewelry. Particularly popular with foreign tourists are brass items and the Rudraksha mala.
A local market made famous as a treasure trove of brass products, Thatheri Bazar lies close to the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. A walk through its narrow lanes lets you explore the various kinds of brass ornaments and utensils made by the local smiths. The brass water pot, called 'kamandalam', is a popular item sold here. Additionally, one can also shop for intricate minakari accessories, clay pots, copper bowls and hand-made rugs.
Nestled in the heart of the buzzing Maheshpur town, Godowlia Market is swarming with local traders selling all kinds of stuff at great bargains. Found at a short distance from the nearest railway station, it is labeled as one of the busiest open markets of the city, and quite rightly so. The cramped lanes are packed with stalls selling household essentials, ethnic jewelry, handmade shawls and zari garments, among other intricately designed apparel. Post a tiring shopping spree at Godowlia, one may choose the visit the serene Kashi Temple lying a few blocks ahead.
Located a few minutes away from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Raj Bandhu Sweet Shop is buzzing with activity during all times of the day. Selling the choicest sweetmeats in town at fixed rates, you can even sample a few of the usual suspects such as gulab jamun, jalebi, motichur laddoo and others. Spicy deep-fried snacks that Indians consume at tea time are also on offer. This shop is hard to miss because of the line of policemen who sit right by the entrance to guard the little streets leading up to the temple.
In a city that is synonymous with the celebrated Banarasi Silk Sari, there is no dearth of shops selling this exquisite Indian garment worn by women across the country. Hira Silk Palace is one such example which is hard to miss owning to its prime location on the main Dasashwamedh Road. Not just pure silk, you can also pick up Baluchari, Jamdani, cotton and other interesting variations in a hue of colors to suit your taste. This shop manufactures its own sarees which makes it yet another reason to stop by. The well-informed staff will do their best to give you a quick lesson on the finer nuances of this elegant garment.
Varanasi has long been associated with traditional wooden toys that are crafted and polished with lacquer, and of the best places to buy these is from the quaint Agrawal Toys Emporium which is in the same building as Sahi River View Guest House. The toys are more for center-table display than for kids to play with however, this does not act as a deterrent to families and kids who are equally intrigued. Souvenirs, CDs, cassettes, post cards and handicrafts are also on offer here. A good idea would be to visit the adjacent Harmony Book Shop later and then head to the breezy Assi Ghats steps for a sojourn.
Fabindia is a success story all the way; this Indian retail store which has opened outlets in Italy offers buyers quality even if the prices appear slightly inflated. Women can choose from capris, kurtas, dupattas, bags, stoles, skirts, pants and jewelry while men are not left behind with tunics, kurtas, churidars, jackets and shirts to take home. The colors here tend to be in pastel shades with a trademark light embroidery. Not just clothes but also home ware and wellness products like bed sheets, quilts, napkins, mats, curtains, sun screens, face scrubs, skin toners, shampoos and hair-conditioners are yours for the taking.
Maharani's Art Palace is a one-stop-shop for those looking to take home souvenirs and gifts from the unforgettable city of Varanasi. Choose from a range of vintage collectibles including ashtrays, candle-holders and pretty lanterns to light up your night. Wall-hangings, statues, art works, photo frames as well as home ware like dishes and bowls can be bought from here.
Indica books, located at the Godowlia Crossing opposite to Sushil Cinema, will enlighten book lovers with an authoritative collection of books about the culture and heritage of India. Indology, the academic name for the study of Indian culture is the most covered area here. A vast collection of resources for researchers, academicians and students are available at this charming store. Do visit this book haven, which lies in proximity to the ghats of Ganges and Kashi Golden Temple.