Everything about Punjab and its people is larger than life. Be it the music, outfits, dance or food.
Having lived in Punjab my favorite things to buy in Punjab especially in Amritsar and Patiala include Phulkari dupattas, Punjabi suits, Punjabi Jutti, Jewelry, Papad, Wadiyan, and Pickles.
In this post, I have listed the things that I feel you must add to your shopping list while visiting Amritsar and Patiala in Punjab.
I have covered what to buy, where to buy from and an idea of how much they cost.
TOP 15 Punjab SOUVENIRS TO PICK- SHOPPING IN Amritsar & Patiala
- Phulkari- Dupatta with beautiful bright embroidery work.
- Punjabi Jutti- Traditional footwear usually made up of leather.
- Punjabi Suit- A three-piece Punjabi ethnic outfit.
- Paranda- A hair accessory used in braiding.
- Kaleere- An accessory worn by Punjabi bride in her hands during a wedding ceremony
- Papad – Round shaped thin wafers eaten as a snack.
- Wadiyan- Nuggets made with lentils and spices, used in curries and gravies.
- Chooda- Set of bangles worn by Punjabi brides.
- Jewelry- Precious and imitation jewelry including earrings, necklaces, bangles, anklets, etc.
- Turban- A long piece of cloth worn as headgear by Sikh men
- Pakkhi- A hand-held fan usually made up of wood and fabric
- Pickle- Lime, Mango, Chilly, Ginger, Garlic and many more preserved in vinegar, oil, etc.
- Jaggery- A better alternative than refined sugar to add sweetness to your food
- Spiritual items- Sikh religious texts (Gutka), Kada, Kripan, Kangha (wooden comb), Khanda (Sikh Emblem)
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Remember the song ‘Tujh mein rab dikhta hai yara main kya karun’.
The white dupatta that Anushka wore in that was embroidered with Phulkari work.
‘Phul’ means flower and ‘kari’ means ‘doing’. It is the art of creating flowers on a piece of cloth with colorful threads in various patterns. The word Phulkari is used for the embroidery and also for the dupatta that has Phulkari work on it.
Phulkari is a part and parcel of Punjabi culture and tradition. It is worn by women on auspicious occasions like wedding and festivals.
During older times, Phulkari was made up of khadi and cotton fabrics but later on chiffon, crepe and georgette majorly replaced the traditional fabrics.
There are various types of Phulkari work.
There are small flowers, leaves, geometrical patterns embroidered at specific gaps on the fabric and then there is ‘Bagh’ where the whole cloth is covered with embroidery so beautifully and you can not see the cloth at all. All that you see is embroidery.
Baagh, Til-patra, Chope, Subhar, Chhamaas, Senchi are various types of Phulkaris.
Earlier women used to do this embroidery at home during their free time. Phulkaaris were made by women, especially by grandmothers and mothers for young girls to be gifted to them on their wedding.
Mostly these are made on colored fabric with contrasting bright colored threads like red, yellow, pink, orange, green, blue.
The use of Phulkari embroidery has spread beyond dupatta and salwar kameez to bags, jackets, sarees, cushion-covers, bed-sheets, shoes, etc. Phulkari is a must-have piece in a Punjabi woman’s wardrobe that can totally change the look of a simple and plain salwar kameez.
Despite facing stiff competition from western clothing, Phulkari has managed to retain its special place.
How much does Phulkari work cost?
Price of a Phulkari Dupatta can range from Rs.500 to a few thousand, depending upon the embroidery and the fabric used. Almost all the shops selling Phulkari dupatta have matching suit fabric that you can buy to match with your Phulkari.
Where to buy Phulkari from?
Phulkari can be bought in Tripri Bazar and Adalat Bazar in Patiala and Hall Bazar, Katra Jaimal Singh Bazar in Amritsar.
Phulkari Fashion Tip
I have four Phulkaris in Red, Pink, Orange and Blue in color, all bought from Patiala. Two are light-weight, embroidered on the sides only and two are heavily embroidered. Light ones can be used for college, office and routine outings and heavy ones are better for special occasions.
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Punjabi Jutti is a very famous traditional footwear in northern India.
Due to its versatility and being a part of the local culture, it is still very popular among men, women, kids, young and old alike. You can find these in all the colors- red, white, golden, silver, green, blue, pink, yellow, multi-colored and more.
Traditionally, Punjabi Jutti was made up of leather only which was given different natural shades with dyes and colors.
Later on, to add more color and variety to it, various fabrics and synthetic materials were started to be used in the making.
Brown and earthy colored leather ones are evergreens but people also like to buy in other bright colors to match their outfits on weddings and other special occasions.
Colorful embroidery, patchwork, sequins, threads, beads, lace, decorative small mirrors are used to make these more appealing.
These are handcrafted and can be custom made according to any particular design and size one wants. These Juttis are worn both by men and women. Men’s Juttis usually have simple designs and earthy colors like brown, black, tan, etc.
The tip of men’s juttis is usually curled upwards like a mustache.
There is no right or left foot distinction on Punjabi Juttis and they take the shape of the foot on wearing.
Amritsar and Patiala in Punjab are important centers for handmade Punjabi juttis.
How much does a Punjabi Jutti?
These can cost you anywhere between a few hundred to a few thousand, depending upon the material and embroidery.
The price for ordinary basic Jutti starts around INR 300 and the price for Jutti with original leather material, embroidery, and cushioned sole would start around INR 1000.
How to wear Punjabi Jutti?
Leather Juttis in neutral colors can go with any outfit and are good for regular use. Juttis with embroidery look good with traditional outfits.
Sometimes they may hurt your foot initially so it is better to soften the leather Juttis with smearing a little oil on the inside.
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Punjabi Suit/ Patiala Salwaar
One of the traditional outfits that stood the test of time and trends is Punjabi suit.
It evolved with time to suit the needs and fashion sense of women but never went out of the scene.
For the uninitiated, a traditional Punjabi Suit is complete with a tunic called Kurta, a loose pant called Salwar and a long broad stole called Dupatta. A Patiala Salwar has much more flare than an ordinary one because of a large number of pleats added while stitching.
The popularity of Punjabi Suit is widespread beyond Punjab and North India.
It is a common outfit that can be used every day and also for special occasions. You can find these in almost every fabric and color, ready-made or custom-made.
Many variations of the suit are available now. Salwar has been swapped with trousers, palazzo, long flared skirts. Kurta can also be found in any length as per your personal choice.
Thread-work, applique, painting, sequins, zari, gota-patti, lace, etc is used to adorn the suits.
How much do Punjabi suits cost?
Punjabi suits are very budget-friendly and available in every budget. The price starts as low as Rs. 800 which could go further up to Rs.10000.
Where to buy Punjabi suits from?
A Punjabi suit, for its elegance, comfort, and versatility, is a must buy from Patiala’s Adalat bazar or Tripri Bazar where you can get to choose from a large variety at a good price.
Phulkari suits from Tripri, Patiala and Katra Jaimal Singh, Amritsar are very famous.
Fashion tips for wearing Punjabi Suits
A solid plain salwar kameez with heavy dupatta looks very graceful and gives you Punjabi look. I have a few solid color suits that can be mixed and matched with various Phulkari and contrast colored dupattas.
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Paranda or Parandi is a hair accessory that has thick long black tassels with colorful or golden threads at the ends.
It is worn in long braided hair by women in Punjab. Paranda was more popular during the older times when women didn’t have many accessories to decorate their hair.
They used colorful threads and braided them in their hair to make them look thicker, longer and more beautiful.
These days the use of these Paranda or Parandi has become limited to traditional functions, weddings and folk dance performances, etc. Before the arrival of hair extensions and hair coloring, Paranda did all this by adding length and color to the hair.
The thick, black, longer part of the Paranda was braided in the hair and the colorful tassels at the end matched the outfit.
Even today, Paranda is gifted to the brides by women in the family as a part of culture and tradition. It has also been a subject of many Punjabi songs.
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Kaleere is not something that can be worn by just any woman but they form an important part of the Punjabi culture.
You can definitely find beautiful ones in the markets here.
Kaleere is worn by a bride during her wedding ceremony on each of her wrists which keep dangling with the bangles.
They are dome-shaped tiered pieces held together with colorful or beaded threads, or dainty metallic chains. All Punjabi brides wear these beauties
In fact, this tradition is being adopted by many other brides in India due to the elegance it adds to the overall look of the bride. Earlier Kaleere was made up of dried coconut (khopa/Khopra) and puffed rice.
During the older time, it took longer to travel from one place to another. After the wedding ceremony, it took a long time for the bride to reach her in-laws’ place from her parents’ home. It is believed that kaleere came handy at such times when the shy bride felt hungry during the transit.
When I was a kid, I attended a wedding in a village and I saw the bride wearing kaleere made up of dry coconut, puffed rice, and makhana.
Nowadays, you get kaleere made up of thin metal sheets molded into different shapes and designs.
Usually, these are golden in color.
Tassels, beads, stones, etc are added to make them more colorful and appealing. They can be lightweight or heavy, single or many tiers, plain or studded.
Kaleere is a symbol of good luck, prosperity, and blessings given to the bride from her family and friends.
Where to buy Kaleere from?
Qila Chowk in Patiala offers a large variety of Kaleere.
A friend from Sikkim asked me for Kaleere for her wedding which I bought from here. For my wedding, I bought Kaleere from Qila Chowk Patiala which costed me around INR 1000.
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Food is something that Punjabis are obsessed with. Papad wadiyan is spicy, flavorful and lip-smacking.
You should definitely try the local delicacies.
Papad is thin, round-shaped slices made up of lentils and spices. These are infused with flavors using various kinds of Indian spices. Papads can be fried in oil or roasted for cooking and are used as snacks or appetizers.
Sometimes toppings of raw onion, cucumber and tomato are added to make them more filling and delicious.
Amritsari wadiyan are made in many households in Punjab.
Lentils are firstly soaked in water and a thick paste is made by grinding them. Spices are added to this paste and small portions are taken from this paste to make round shapes. These are then put in the sun to dry. When these are dried completely, they are packed and can be used for many months.
The main spices that are used in wadi are black pepper, cumin, red chilly powder, coriander seeds, etc. These can be used in curries to add strong aroma and flavor.
Where to buy Papad and Wadiyan
If you want to take this taste back with you to your home, buy Amritsari papad and wadiyan from the New Mahajan Store and Hall Bazar in Amritsar and Gur Mandi in Patiala.
I love wadiyan cooked in gravy with Potatoes and also in Pulao. It gives a very hot and spicy flavor and aroma to the dish.
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A Punjabi bride is incomplete without Chooda.
It is another part of the rich Punjabi culture and tradition. Chooda is a set of a few dozen plastic bangles worn by Punjabi brides.
Traditionally, Chooda consisted of red and white bangles made up of ivory.
With time Chooda also changed color and appearance. The traditional Chooda had red and white bangles. There used to be red and black dots on the white bangles.
You can still find this age-old traditional design in the markets.
Nowadays, it is made up of plastic and comes in many colors like maroon, pink, orange, yellow, maroon, etc, studded with pearls and stones. It is usually worn by brides for 40 days from the day of marriage.
Some brides like to keep wearing it for longer periods.
Chooda is a symbol of marital bliss and blessings bestowed upon her by her family members and friends.
Where to buy Punjabi Chooda from?
Chooda for my own wedding was also bought from Qila Chowk, Patiala. I chose a simple traditional design that appealed to me. It went very well with my wedding outfit and with other outfits later on. I loved it so much that I wore it for more than a year.
How much does a Punjabi Chooda cost?
Price of a set of Chooda depends upon the quality and work. It can range from Rs.1000 to Rs. 10000.
Cost may get higher for customized and studded ones. People often get the couple’s name written on the Chooda.
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Punjabi women are very fond of jewelry.
Heavy jewelry is chosen for weddings and special occasions. Contemporary, light-weight, precious, semi-precious and artificial jewelry can be seen worn by the local women.
Markets in Amritsar and Patiala offer all these types.
You can find the pieces that are favorite among the locals here.
Maang teekas, necklaces, and earrings made up of thin plated metals, studded bangles, and bracelets, necklaces, anklets, pearl, tasseled accessories, fashion jewelry, etc all can be found here.
Where to buy Punjabi Jewelry from?
Guru Bazar at Katra Ahluwalia Road, Amritsar, AC Market and Quila Chowk in Patiala are the right places to shop for imitation jewelry. You can spend a few hundred to a few thousand easily while shopping here.
Earrings are my favorite piece of jewelry that I buy at almost every place I visit. They are not heavy on the pocket and are also good to gift to friends.
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Turban or ‘Pagg’ as it is called in the local language, is a very crucial and respectable part of attire for Sikh men.
It is a 5 to 8-meter long Mulmul, Rubia or Voile fabric headgear is worn by them to cover their hair and head. Religiously, it holds a very sacred place for them.
It is a lot more than a headgear for Sikhs.
It is a symbol of faith and respect.
In the markets of Amritsar and Patiala, you can find shops that cater to these turbans exclusively. You will find turban cloth in many colors and fabrics. Lighter colors are usually preferred by the elder men and young men like to experiment with various shades.
In many families, the turban is worn by all the men in the family during wedding ceremonies.
Where to buy Punjabi Turban from?
Sher-e-Punjab Market and Adalat bazar in Patiala are good places to buy turban fabric.
Many of my male friends, colleagues and family members buy turban fabric from these markets as there is a large variety of fabric and colors to choose from.
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Pakkhi or hand-held fans have almost become obsolete now.
There were times when these were made by local women with fabric, wool, and cane at home.
The handle of the fan is made up of wood and frame is made up of wire. A piece of colorful cloth is wrapped around the frame. Sometimes weaving is done with wool and threads on the frame.
To made them more decorative, embroidery, applique work, etc is also done on them.
These days, Pakkhis are seen usually as decorative pieces in Punjabi restaurants, homes and art places which were earlier an item of daily household use during summers when there was no electricity.
Where to buy Pakkhi in Punjab?
These can be bought in Qila Chowk Market, Patiala.
I plan to add these to my home decor when I have a home of my own.
Authentic Punjabi food is usually spicy and then there are all kinds to pickles to amp up the taste.
Punjabi meals are incomplete without a variety of pickles.
Pickle making is a household thing in Punjab. Women make pickles at home for the consumption of the family and to distribute among friends and relatives.
Mango, Lime, Chilly, Radish, Carrot, Cauliflower, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Indian Gooseberries are the common pickles used with meals and also available in the markets.
Khatta Aam Papad and Meetha Aam Papad can also be bought and taken as souvenirs.
These are made up of dried mango pulp which is rolled into thin sheets. They are very popular among kids and women.
Where to buy from?
Gur Mandi in Patiala and Mishri Bazar, Amritsar are the places you can buy pickles from.
I love sweet and sour lime pickle and mango pickle that taste awesome with Parantha. It can add spice and taste to an otherwise bland meal. Pickles come to my rescue when I feel too lazy to cook much as these go very well with all kinds of Paranthas.
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Jaggery / Punjabi Gur
Jaggery or Gur is a healthier alternative to sugar that is widely consumed in homes in Punjab.
Many farmers make jaggery with sugarcane juice at their farms at the time of harvesting sugarcane. The juice is strained and clarified to make a clear liquid.
Then it is boiled for hours and stirred regularly resulting in a thick paste. The impurities coming on the top are skimmed off. When it forms dough-like consistency, it is transferred into molds to cool-off and harden.
This golden or brown colored hard end-product is called Jaggery. It is used in making tea, deserts and also consumed after meals to help digestion.
Where to buy Punjabi Gur from?
Gur can be purchased from Gur Mandi in Patiala and from Dhab Wasti Ram in Amritsar. You can also find special Gur with dry fruits in it.
‘Gur wali Chai’ or tea made with Jaggery used as a sweetener gives it a very unique and pleasant taste.
I love to cook a sweet dish of rice and jaggery adding some dry fruits to it. It’s easy to make and tastes delicious.
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Amritsar is home to the famous Golden Temple and Gurudwara Dukhniwaran Sahib is a very popular Sikh temple in Patiala.
One can buy many things related to Sikhism like Sikh religious texts (Gutka), Kada, Kripan, Kangha (wooden comb), Khanda (Sikh Emblem), Rumala (Sacred clothing for Guru Granth Sahib), Religious Paintings and Photographs, etc.
You can purchase these from the shops around these temples. These can be bought as a souvenir or gift reminding you of your visit to Punjab.
Making use of your bargaining skills and visiting a few shops to get an idea of the products before you finally decide to indulge, is the best way to shop in the markets of Amritsar and Patiala.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PUNJAB
The climate in Punjab comprises of three seasons:-
a) Summer spans from mid-April to the end of June. Summer in Punjab commences from mid-April but the temperature starts rising from February onwards.
b) Monsoon arrives around early July and lasts till September.
c) Punjab experiences cold winds during the months of early December to the end of February. Source)
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