Originating from the Sanskrit word bandhan, Jodhpuri bandhej fabrics, or tie-dye textiles, feature motifs of trees and mangoes in dotted clusters and wave-like patterns called samudri leheriya. Venture to Tripolia Bazaar, a labyrinth of crowded lanes and cloth piles, and witness white chiffon sarees being plucked and twisted into colourful, summery prints. Look out for the bold panchranga saree—which works five contrasting colours (green, yellow, orange, magenta, and firozi) into five metres of cloth.
On Station Road, Lucky Silk Sarees and Shyam Silk Sarees offer a wide range of silk, chiffon, and georgette tie-dye, as well as handpainted sarees. The nearby Prakash Silk Store, established over seven decades ago, surprises beyond its dull store front, holding precious gold-pleated tilla lehengas that cost as much as Rs5,00,000. Evergreen textile collections can be found around Sojati Gate Circle and Thar Handloom in Sardarpura market. (Sarees from Rs500–700, up to a couple thousand). Ten kilometres from the main city, Basni is known for cotton block print textiles; three must-visits for suits, kurtas, kaftans, and contemporary pieces are Vastra Vinod, Via Vishnoi, and Design India (priced approximately between Rs1,000–5,000).
Search around Makrana Mohalla and the lane down from Mehrangarh Fort to Clock Tower for craft camel leather goods. Whiffs of mustard oil and hardy leather greet you as you pass dangling beige to dark brown handbags shading artisans in action, mending and polishing straps and notebook covers. Look out for leather-covered analogue clocks for souvenirs. (Leather bags priced between Rs400 and 3500). Find quality Jodhpuri jootis and mojaris in blues, yellows, reds, and oranges across the Railway Station at Juti Corner or anywhere in the Cobbler’s Market. (Rs250 onwards).
For artistically distressed furniture and regal sheesham woodwork, venture to the emporiums that line The Palace Road towards Circuit House. Polished doors, grand cabinets, and Jodhpuri jharokha frames are among the other ready-made traditional pieces that attract tourists. (Jharokhas from Rs3,000–5,000). Those looking for embellished clocks, Jodhpur’s trademark wooden musicians or cast-iron figurines should enter Ajay Art Emporium, Maharani Art Emporium, Jain Emporium, and Lalji Handicrafts. (Clocks from Rs1800; antiques from Rs2500–35,000). The latter even boasts fine furniture refurbished out of recycled motorcycle and auto parts, along with restored prints of movie posters and Jodhpuri paintings. Umaid Heritage Art School at Clock Tower also houses locally commissioned paintings, and art lessons on traditional Rajasthani miniature paintings. (Paintings from Rs2000–5,00,000; lessons cost Rs1000 per workshop).
If regional Marwadi jewellery strikes a chord, Sardar Market, Clock Tower, Tripolia Market, and Ajit Bhawan have a phenomenal range of bibelots to choose from. Traditional jewellery like borla-rakhdi (a bell-shaped maang teeka), punchi (a broad bangle with gold beads and red lining), bangdi (bangles with decorative spikes) and aad (a rectangular gold choker) can be found at Mangichand Bhandari Jewellers in Tripolia Bazaar, offering everything from fine to imitation bijouterie. For silver and semi-precious stones head to Kabra Jewellers in Sardar Market. Seek out enamel earrings and emerald and ruby strung necklaces and bracelets at Nayi Sadak, or visit Gems and Jewels Palace and Kaanchi Jewels at Circuit House for exclusive, high-end designs. (Imitation pieces range between Rs1,000–35,000; antique jewellery at high-end boutiques start from Rs2,00,000–5,00,000; jadau sets go up to Rs50,00,000).
While trinkets can be found at Clock Tower, right behind it is the five-generation-old Bibaji Bangles. Despite its humble interior, the patron list extends from the Ambanis to the royal family of Jodhpur. Famous for their crystal, lac, and seep bangles, they are even better known for their anecdotes about the city. (Junk jewellery from Rs100; lac and crystal bangles priced from Rs100 and 800 a pair, respectively).
This feature appeared in the print edition of National Geographic Traveller India September-October 2021.
Muskaan Gupta travels with a camera that doesn't fret to capture touristy pictures and believes visiting local markets is the best way to unearth a city's gems and jewels. She is Junior Writer (Native Content) at National Geographic Traveller India.