Shopping in Nepal
Usually, travelers flocked to Kathmandu for
its ancient and artistic shrines, temples, monasteries and
palaces in the foregrounds of the Himalaya. They
came to appreciate Nepal's fine arts and architecture in its
beautiful and natural backdrops. The Hippies actually began
it all in the 60s.
Then there followed a period of nature and
adventure tourism, bringing in yuppie trekkers, rafters and
mountaineers, and the latter-day hang-gliders, hot-air ball-oonists
and other dare-devils.
These two distinct groups of tourists to Nepal
helped identify the country as a culture-nature-adventure
triad of destination. This definition and identification still
hold true in the 1990s, and will continue well into the 21st
Shopping-a new tourism product in Nepal. Now,
this is an additional new school of tourism to Nepal- and
with a vengeance ! The avid shopaholics-lndians, Nepalese
and westerners as well-find the entire gamut of genuine international
brands and domestic products in Nepal surprisingly competitively-priced,
both in the bazaars and supermarkets of Kathmandu, Pokhara
and other commercial hubs of Nepal.
Historical perspectives. A Sanskrit tome,
dating back to some 6,000 years, cites Nepal as a veritable
source of such quality products as the tender-wool pashmina
shawls, some 22 varieties of excellent leather goods and products,
and other items. These quality items drew many discernible
connoisseurs to Nepal.
Now this very ancient market is resurrected
in Nepal, with the advent of consumer tourism. And now there
are two markets thriving in Nepal: genuine international brand-names,
and original Nepalese products as well. Pick up your own choices,
or choose your own picks-however it suits you!
NEPAL: FOREIGN GOODS GALORE
Of course, the capital city of Kathmandu leads the
way in all kinds of shopping in Nepal. This new adventure
fever has spread to Pokhara and other tourist landmarks. Now
the Nepalese market is awash in what you want: Perfumes, cosmetics,
toiletries, watches, cameras; luggages, blankets, garments.
baby care products; chocolates and other sweet-tooth goodies;
optical goods and sun-glasses; writing and other fine instruments;
tobaccos and cigars; electronics, and a host of other luxuries
To match the varieties, there is also a galore
of international brand-names: Christian Dior, . Trusardi,
Lancome, Paloma Picasso, Guy Laroche, Giorgio Armani, Ralph
Lauren, Cacharel, Nina Ricci, Guerlain, Salvador Dali, Pierre
Cardin, Pierre Balmain, Givenchy, Playboy, Rado. Omega, Titoni,
Tissot, Movado Swatch, Seiko, Citizen. West End, Raymond Weil,
Yashica Vivitar, Panasonic, Sony, Kodak, Minolta, Samsonite,
Echolac, Delsey, Benetton, Johnson & Johnson, Jovan, Nivea,
Sara Lee products, and so on.
NEPAL: TRADITIONAL GOODS GALORE
Nepal boasts of many genuine, original and unique
products of its own. After all, the craftsmen of Nepal were
well-respected at the royal courts of ancient China and in
the Indian markets thousands of years ago. Well, the same
expertise are parcticed in Nepal to this day, now that the
lucrative draws of international tourism encourage the domestic
market products. Some of the most important products are listed
Hand-made garments. These
include shawls, woolen sweaters, socks, mittens, jackets,
trousers, and caps which are very functional and colorful
souvenir items. Nepalese tailors are adept at creating garments
out of hand-loomed cotton, silk, wool, and leather. Exceptional
embroidery also goes into the works.
Jewelry. Gold and silver
necklaces, bracelets, rings and traditional beads are some
of the special products of Patan. Tibetan jewelry abounds
in Kathmandu. There is even a colorful international glass
bead market in Ranki Bazaar off Indrachowk.
Gems. Kathmandu has one of
the widest selections of loose gems in South Asia. Ruby, aquamarine,
black and green tourmaline, quartz, rare hamburgrite, panburite,
felspar, epidate, and "healing stones" are mined
in the high hills and mountains of Nepal, and therefore, are
available in Kathmandu at competitive prices.
Khukuri. This curved metal
knife is synonymous with the legendary Gurkha soldiers and
their valor in many international wars. Its origin is humble,
belonging to the hills of Nepal. Manufactured by iron smiths
with surprisingly simple and rudimentary traditional implements,
this is an ideal souvenir to take back home with.
Metalware. In Nepal, decorative
as well as everyday household utensils are made of copper,
brass, and bronze. These are elaborately engraved. Karuwas
(water jars), antis (liquor jars), and hanging oil lamps are
some of the very popular and useful souvenirs.
Paper Products. Traditional
Nepalese kagaj paper, popularized by the Hippies as "rice
paper", is actually made of lokta (daphne) bark found
in the high hills of Nepal. Because of its cross-fibrous,
and therefore, strong texture, it has been used for official
documents. Commercially turned out as writing pads, calendars
and lamp shades, lokta has also gained international fame
as the material for the UNICEF greeting cards produced in
Paubhas or thankas are traditional
paintings, depicting deities and religious icons and symblos
drawn from Buddhism. Painted on cotton scrolls or canvas,
the best paubhas (thankas in Tibetan) use precious powdered
stone pigments for vivid colors. Silver and gold dust are
other important ingredients.
Pottery. The Kathmandu Valley
potters are famous for their delicate art of shaping and sizing
both terra-cotta and glazed utility and decorative earthenware.
The potters' square in Bhaktapur is the place to buy these
souvenirs as well as to see the potters in action.
Statues. The casting of bronze,
brass and copper statuary in Nepal dates back to the 13th
century. Nepal is famous for the ancient and painstaking "lost
wax method" in which ornate figures are modeled and molded
Wood carving. The Newars
are expert in their artistry in wood. Their intricately-carved
doors, windows, pillars and lattices are seen in and around
Kathmandu. Tourism has greatly encouraged the manufacture
of these ornate works in wood, mainly in the workshops of
Patan and Bhaktapur.
Woolen carpets. These are
hand-knotted pieces of art, using the traditional techniques
of Tibet. The best of Himalayan sheep wool and New Zealand
long staples are used in weaving the best-quality carpets.
Vegetable dyes are used in authentic carpets though usage
of imported cost- effective and enduring chemical colors is
also seen these days.
Tea. The eastern districts
of Nepal, notably llam, are where excellent varieties of Himalayan
tea are grown and produced. Though most of it is exported,
shops in Kathmandu and elsewere in Nepal of fer a wide selection
of the fine tea, packaged attractively as suitable gifts,
and guaranteed as a great brew.
Spices. Asia is an ancient
spice stronghold. Therefore, Kathmandu, in the middle of Asia,
is no exception. Kathmandu is, in fact, the entrepot of spices-those
exotica to flavor curries and other dishes. Nutmeg, ginger,
saffron, mace, green anise, fenugreek, peppers, and coriander
seeds are just some of the spicy names.
So there you are, dear tourists ! Happy splurging
in Nepalese products and international brand-name goodies-
all in the bustling and colorful markets of Kathmandu and
For online shopping: www.nepaliproducts.com