This post is certainly not for those who hate shopping! But, this is not really about the malls, which are there in Pondicherry, but about the small niche boutiques, which dot mostly French Pondicherry.
Some of the boutiques of Pondicherry are quite popular mainly because they are indigenous and exclusive to Pondicherry; you will not find them anywhere else in the country. Most of the apparel designs retailed are Indo-western in nature.
Considering it is a small town, albeit a popular one, I was nevertheless surprised to see so much of organically made cotton apparel on offer, including chic dresses, men’s shirts, skirts, palazzo skirts (large flared trousers, which almost look like skirts) and children’s wear.
What else apart from apparel is available? O lots! There is hand-made organic paper (a specialty of Pondicherry), special hand crafted pottery in hues of blue and brown, scented candles and last but not the least the immensely popular hand-rolled incense sticks.
While we walked through French Pondicherry, we spotted a few quaint shops tucked away, mentioned are some of them I particularly liked..
Casablanca on Mission Street
This multistoried, air-conditioned retail store houses well known brands as well as some niche brands, which are only available in Pondicherry. This is especially true in case of women’s wear, which is available on the top floor of the store. I fell in love with intricately hand made velvet jewel boxes and gift boxes with rich zardozi work (a type of embroidery popular in India and Pakistan).
Casablanca houses a small café too, called Rick’s Café’, where you can sit and relax, post some shopping. Head for this place if you are looking for knick-knacks, cosmetics, accessories, clothes, sun hats and unique gift items. Yes, this store does stock quite a few things!
Kalki on Mission Street
Situated exactly on the opposite side of the road, Kalki offers a range of products hand made at Auroville. Personally, I quite liked the summery chic apparel wear.
Spread across two floors, the Kalki at Mission Road is much smaller and stocks lesser products compared to their much bigger store at Auroville.
The Kalki store at Auroville apart from scented candles, hand made paper, incense sticks, delicately weaved silk /wool scarfs, shawls and some uniquely made jewelry, also has a wide selection of organic and herbal products made in the Auroville farms. I was absolutely in love with the store. Do drop by, if you happen to be there in Auroville.
Hidesign Flagship Store on Nehru Street
If you happen to be in and around Mission Street, then the Hidesign store is just a few blocks away.
If you are looking for world-class leather products, then this is the store you should visit. Leather apparel, accessories, handbags, and travel –gear, you will find them all here.
Boutique D’ Auroville at Auroville
The USP of this store is an exclusive alcove where wind chimes of various shapes, sizes and sounds are available.
Get organic cotton apparel for everyone in the family here; for you, the spouse, and the child. A great place to get hand made bed spreads and jewelry made from terracotta, semi-precious stones and linen.
Play Clan on Rue Suffren
A concept store, Play Clan offers unique kitschy (but nothing over-the-top) products including funky clothes and a host of small accessories, like fridge magnets and paper napkin holders.
Play Clan is right above the Fab India store in Pondicherry; check it out; it is unlike most stores that you will see in the town.
Titanic on Madam Street
This store was a disappointment. Known for its retail surplus merchandise of international brands like Gap, Abercrombie, Puma etc, Titanic can be given a pass!
Nirvana on Rue Suffren
This is a small kitsch boutique specializing in all things funky and retro, especially, Indian Bollywood / film influences. You will get a variety of tote bags, coin bags, a few clothes, furniture and accessories. So, if you particularly fancy having some cushions with Indian film influences (read an smiling SRK, Shah Rukh Khan for the uninitiated, and other Bollywood favorites), then Nirvana is a place you will surely like.
Personally what I liked was the attached café to the Nirvana Store. It looked cozy and very welcoming, more because of the presence of a riot of yellow blooms all around the quaint café.
Neemrana Boutique on Rue Rolland
The Neemrana boutique is a beautiful small shop, which has curios, clothes and home decoration products. Most of the products at the Neemrana boutique have strong Rajasthan influences. This small little shop houses many treasures!
Essentially a part of the Hotel De L Orient (which is a Neemrana property), the boutique is managed and run by the hotel. In case, you see, the door shut, fret not, just go up to the hotel lobby and ask them to open the doors!
Happy shopping! There is nothing like bringing back a little bit of the place back with you from your travels, is it not?
The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her!