This is one of the most frequent questions that I get asked by visiting friends: where do you shop in Bangalore?

And the answer in the great Indian tradition is “Depends on what you want to buy.”  

The problem is that most visitors don’t know what they want to buy because they don’t know what’s available.  Most people want choices. They want cute and surprising items that they can use. They want something meaningful that will align with their values, be it buying vegan fair-trade objects or handmade clothes.  They want memories.  Think of the masks that you brought back from Africa, the Balinese puppets that hang on your wall, or the Ganjifa cards that remind you of that amazing trip to Orissa.

Some cities are better shopping destinations than others.  If you leave out the triumvirate of London, Paris and Milan, then Istanbul has its Grand Bazaar, New York has Fifth Avenue, Morocco has its souqs, and Chennai has Amethyst. 

Bangalore thankfully has a number of lovely stores that make browsing and shopping a real treat.  Here then are a few of my haunts. I have not included chains or franchises such as Good Earth or Forest Essentials in this list.  Just local stores.

Ffolio: Yashodhara Shroff gave Bangalore its earliest multi-brand boutique.  Located in Lavelle Road, Ffolio is a great place to source distinctive Indian designers.  In addition, Ffolio invites textile specialists to showcase their work.  A recent one was Mumbai’s Belaa Sanghvi who brought her Patan Patola’s to exhibit at Ffolio.

Cinnamon: This beautifully restored bungalow houses cups, bags, and clothes, all curated by Radhika Poddar.  Buy stationery, scarfs, or Peachoo’s beautifully crafted blouses that will uplift every saree. Walk across the street to have a cup of coffee at Maverick & Farmer while you watch young cricketeers play.

Ambara: Most people go to Ambara near Ulsoor Lake to buy plants.  The Basava Ambara is Basavanagudi is more picturesque.  But I have bought well-priced sarees and blouses from this store for years.

Raintree: Take a breath as you step into this bungalow across the street from the ITC Windsor.  Parking is a breeze.  The Anokhi store inside provides the anchor as does Amrapali.  Jason Cherian, and other Southern fashion designers showcase their work here.  

Dwaraka: This Malleshwaram store stands for Development of Weavers and Rural Artisans in Kalamkari Art.  If you like the lovely and ghee-scented original kalamkari work, you should go here because Anita Reddy is a crusader.

Vermilion House: Owned by textile aficionados Purvi Patel, Bina Rao and Uma Rao, the boutique in Benson Town does exhibitions and conversations about handmade textiles and crafts.  A recent one included an exhibition by Vinay Narkar who showcased Dakkani sarees.

Saanchi Antiques: Located in leafy Langford Town with a lovely cafe on top, Saanchi does high-quality antique furniture and curios.  Owned and operated by an old Bangalorean, Parwathi Mirlay, this is the place to go if you want timeless furniture.

House of Angadi: with boutiques in both North and South Bangalore, this Bangalore-brand is a shopping destination, but is beloved for its silk sarees.  Designer Radharaman’s restless mind ensures that tradition matches trend.  Buy their in-house brand, Alamelu.

Chumbak: although this is an all-India brand, it was born in Bangalore.

Encrustd: This label by Bangalore-based Deepa Chikarmane focuses on hand-embroidered and handmade western-wear.  Try their shimmery dresses for parties.

The Collage Shop: one of the older boutiques of Bangalore which has now morphed into a crowd-pleaser that caters all things to all people. 

House of Taamara: an Indiranagar boutique that focuses on trendy handwoven sarees and blouses.

Cauvery Emporium: a must-stop if you want to buy Karnataka specific curios that include sandalwood oil, Mysore sandal soap and local Karnataka crafts.

P.N. Rao tailors and Paresh Lamba are good places to go to if you want tailored menswear.

Safina Plaza has exhibitions that sell everything from specialty supari (mouth freshener) to handblocked fabric by the yard.  Go here to buy costume jewellery, inexpensive table runners, and knickknacks.

Brigade Road and Commercial Street are great shopping streets.  The saying goes, “Besides your mother and father, you get everything here.”  Other areas are Avenue Road and Chickpete in the old city but you need to know where to go in these neighborhoods.

You cannot come to Bangalore without buying a Mysore Silk and for that you should head to the government emporium off M.G. Road.

Tonique is a relatively new store which is worth visiting if you want to get a sense of what Bangaloreans drink in terms of wine and spirits.

Hatworks Boulevard houses a lovely set of shops just off busy Cunningham Road.  There are pop-ups and markets held here as well.

Jayanagar 4th block market is the place to go to get a taste of South Bangalore.  It has puja items, costume jewellery, and wooden bric-bracs.

Blossom Book House and Gangarams are two places that visiting Bangaloreans visit to buy old and new books.

Sure, Bangalore is not as designer-label crazy as Delhi.  It may not be as trendy as Mumbai or as traditional as Chennai.  But in its acceptance of all things cosmopolitan, this gentle city manages to offer one thing that every shopper wants: choice.

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