The Delhi shopping experience is every bit as exciting as that found in Mumbai and Jaipur, but the sprawling size of the city makes it difficult to cover all in one day -- best to concentrate on one area at a time. If this is your first port of call, try not to load your luggage too early with stuff to take home; best to arrange for it to be shipped directly -- ask your hotel to help you arrange this. There are literally hundreds of courier companies in the city; either ask your hotel to take care of it, or catch a cab to the closest courier (again, staff at any of our recommended hotels can recommend where to go) and ship it off yourself -- it costs surprisingly little and we have always (touch wood!) been greeted by the welcome sight of our much cherished parcels on our return.
It is probably a good idea to kick off your shopping expedition with a stop at Dilli Haat to get a perspective of the range of regional arts and crafts, and approximate prices. And if something here really captures your heart, purchase it and have it shipped home, for it may not be available when you return. Note that most shops (and markets) are open from 10am to 7pm and are closed on Sunday, unless mentioned otherwise. Besides the areas described below, you can spend an entire day covering the old city of Shahjahanabad. Finally, keep in mind that the recommended shops that follow are only a fraction of what's out there; if you know what you're looking for, it's best to inquire at both your hotel and the Janpath tourist office for alternatives.
Connaught Place -- If you want to get an idea of what lies ahead on your travels, visit a few of the 22 State Government Emporiums that line Baba Kharak Singh Marg; some recommended options are Himachal for blankets and shawls in particular (tel. 011/2336-3087); Tamil Nadu ("Poompuhar") for sandalwood objects (tel. 011/2336-3913); Uttar Pradesh ("Gangotri") for the stone-inlay work made famous by the Taj, as well as copper/brasswork and leather goods (tel. 011/2336-4723); Kashmir Emporium for superb carpets; and Orissa (Utkalika) for fabrics and traditional paintings (the latter off the beaten tourist track). If you're not moving on to Rajasthan, don't miss visiting both this and Gurjari Emporium. These State Government Emporiums (like Central Cottage Industries Emporium (www.cottageemporiumindia.com) on nearby Janpath) have fixed prices, so you are spared the incessant haggling you'll have to master elsewhere. One place where it's worth bargaining is Tibetan Market (on Janpath), where it is said you will pick up a better selection of items (from antique locks to silver jewelry) at better prices than you will anywhere in Tibet. Having walked its length, you will find yourself in Connaught Place, the retail heart of imperial Delhi, where hundreds of outlets vie for your rupees. Visit Banaras House for saris and the most beautiful fabrics on earth (N-13 Connaught Place, opposite Scindia House; tel. 011/2331-4751). Head to Jain Super Store (172 Palika Bazaar, Gate 6; tel. 011/2332-1031; www.jainperfumers.com) for perfumes, incense, and teas; it also has a store on Janpath called Arihant Fragrances (17 Main Market; tel. 011/2335-3949), which sells lovely silver jewelry alongside fabulous scented products. Stop at Shaw Brothers (Shop 8, Palika Bazaar; tel. 011/2332-9080; www.shaw-brothers.com) for pure, high-quality Kashmiri shawls and elegant Pashminas -- even if you don't buy, this is pretty much a must-see (note that the main showroom is in Defence Colony; call tel. 011/4155-0858 for free transport if you're very serious about buying). For beautiful (and expensive) gemstones, gold jewelry, and bridalwear, try Bholanath Brothers (L-23 Connaught Circus; tel. 011/2341-8630) or nearby Kapur di Hatti (L-16; tel. 011/2341-7183), which also has Kundan jewelry. The most famous shop in Connaught Place is Fabindia, specializing in stylish ethnic Indian homewear and clothing for all ages, at unbelievably low prices. Along the same lines is The Shop (10, Regal Bldg., Parliament St.; tel. 011/2334-0971; www.theshopindia.com), supplying textiles to all parts of the world from Bloomingdale's in the U.K. to Au printemps in France. Just a (s)hop away is one of the coolest hangouts in Delhi: The People Tree. A studio-cum-store, it makes excellent use of a hole in the wall (read: crammed) location and revels in the creativity of its 2-decade-old existence. Funky T-shirts with tongue-in-cheek social and environmental messages are their claim to fame but you could easily spend a couple of hours (unbelievable for such a tiny space) browsing or simply enjoying the madness that meets the eye (8, Regal Bldg., Parliament St.; tel. 011/2334-0699; www.peopletreeonline.com).
Khan Market & Sunder Nagar Market -- Sunder Nagar is considered the best market to trawl for authentic antiques, interesting secondhand goods, and unique artworks. Khan Market is good for books, music, and DVDs and increasingly for designer stores. Browse Anokhi (32 Khan Market; tel. 011/2460-3423; www.anokhi.com), patronized by expats and locals alike for its highly fashionable blend of Western- and Eastern-style clothing. The Neemrana Shop (23-B, Khan Market; tel. 011/4358-7183; www.neemranahotels.com) has a range of homewares, trinkets, and pretty souvenirs that make ideal gifts and usable memorabilia; you can buy Kama Ayurvedic toiletries, gorgeous pewter teapots, and simple and stylish light cotton garments, perfect for you to wear during your travels in India. Whatever you do, don't miss Good Earth (9 Khan Market; tel. 011/2464-7175; www.goodearthindia.com) -- it's filled with fabulous homewares, furniture, and accessories and the perfect place to pick up beautiful linens, silk cushions, fragranced candles, glass votives, or colorful tea sets; it now also has the wonderful Latitude 28 on its second floor where you can enjoy Mediterranean fare to keep you going as you comb the stores in the area. There's also a branch at Santushti . If you want to pick some beautiful jewelry, head to Frazer and Haws (Shop no.11, main market, Lodhi Colony; tel. 011/2464-7818; www.frazerandhaws.com) -- they also have some very tasteful home and personal accessories which will dig a deep hole in your pocket no doubt but well worth it.
South Delhi -- Seek out Ravissant (tel. 011/2683-7278; www.cest-ravissant.com) in New Friends Colony for beautiful contemporary pewter and silver houseware items (or visit the outlet conveniently located in The Oberoi hotel lobby). Santushti Shopping Complex is an upscale collection of shops (predominantly boutiques) housed in landscaped gardens 15 minutes from the center. Shopping here is wonderfully hassle-free (and there's parking); pick up cigars at Kastro's, visit Tulsi for beautiful garments, and step into Anokhi for off-the-shelf cottonwear.
Even farther south (convenient to visit after viewing Qutb Minar) is trendy Hauz Khas Village, set against a 12th-century backdrop; and, slightly southeast (40 min. from the center), Greater Kailash -- the latter shopping area (divided into M and N blocks) is the least atmospheric but has a large variety of shops that will delight the serious shopper. Hauz Khas is the place to seek out designer boutique outlets, like the legendary Ritu Kumar (34/42 Archana Shopping Complex; tel. 011/2923-1612; www.ritukumar.com). Or head straight for Ogaan (H-2; tel. 011/2696-7595) -- the formalwear version of Anokhi, it's perfect for unusual Indo-West and contemporary Indian designer clothing, and stocks a number of well-known labels. Natural Selection (1 Hauz Khas; tel. 011/2686-4574) is an excellent space to browse for larger items like antique furniture; the proprietors can make all shipping arrangements. Hauz Khas also has a number of fine restaurants, although some have been shut down because of unsound ancient architecture. For wonderful tailor-made garments, make your way to Kavita & Vanita Sawhney (B-78 Greater Kailash I; tel. 011/2923-1822).