Bengal offers amazing, intricate souvenirs for travellers to take back and relive their holiday memories. We talk of some which you must take back with you when you visit the state for Durga Puja.
If you haven’t tasted authentic Darjeeling tea, then you haven’t lived. Several factors such as the altitude and climate of Darjeeling foothills produce what is globally known as the ‘champagne of teas’. Another factor contributing to the unique taste is the orthodox method of handplucking tea leaves which is among the most labour-intensive in the world. The region produces different flushes with distinctive aroma and flavour. So choose something that suits your taste or pick up a variety of flushes. Did you know that Darjeeling tea was the first Indian product to get the GI tag? GI or the Geographical Indications of Goods tag, is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location.
Where: Biswa Bangla stores in Kolkata stock some of the best varieties.
Pick up a few leather bags and accessories beautifully handcrafted in Shantiniketan. It was ire-introduced by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in a bid to revive dying crafts in the region. Each bag (or accessory) is distinctive and different from anything you will find elsewhere - with embossed batik work and traditional patterns. The items are all cut, polished, embossed and hand painted with vegetable-based pigment colors. And this is another Bengal product with a GI tag. You can buy something with traditional motifs or a contemporary pattern.
Where: Pick them at Manjusha or Tantuja showrooms in Kolkata.
Stitch In Time
Add a touch of minimalist elegance to your wardrobe with a kantha stole, shirt, saree or light duvet. Kantha - one of the oldest forms of embroidery in India - has now made its way around the world, showcased in places like the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You will find many motifs in early pieces which were derived from ancient art. Kantha has been kept alive by women in rural areas who would re-use old sarees, putting together several layers with a running stitch and embroidery to create recycled light duvets for their families, and also to embroider personal garments.
Where: Any Biswa Bangla outlet, at Manjusha and Tantuja.
Wear A Story
Amp up the glam in your closet with clothes and accessories designed from Baluchari. A traditional silk saree from Bengal, Balucharis are known for rich, intricate motifs taken mostly from Indian mythology. It takes months to weave the designs and the saris were worn as a sign of aristocracy, and handed down through generations. Bengal's state emporium Tantuja has introduced a new label that is re-inventing Baluchari sarees and fashioning gorgeous jackets, dresses, shoes, bags, wallets, ties and belts out of them. Think crisply tailored trousers and cigarette pants, jackets, ties and even shoes - all opulent attires are perfect for special occasions.
Where: Pick these up from the Tantuja outlet on Park Street. Address: Park Center Market,24, Park St, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal 700071. Phone: 099360 52513.
The Perfect Mould
Remember the ‘dancing girl’ of Mohenjo Daro mentioned in every one of our history text books? That figurine was made with lost-wax technique, which is what the craft of dhokra also uses. This ancient form of metal casting has been passed down generations for over 4,000 years. An alloy of brass, nickel, and zinc is used which gives dhokra items their unique sheen and colour. Dhokra animal figures are popular picks as are the human figures engaged in various activities. You can also pick up bowls or jewellery items.
Where: You can pick up these products from any of the Biswa Bangla outlets.