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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What are the popular things to buy in Alchi?

Manavi Kapur DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Every place has its own hallmark of shopping items. For Alchi, it is the Tibetan handicrafts. If you have made the effort to come all the way to this pretty little remote village, wouldn’t you like a unique Tibetan souvenir which will take a place of pride in your living room or bedroom, or any other room for that matter? Though it is better known for its monasteries, Alchi has a few souvenir curio shops which sell everything from Ladakhi hats to heavy turquoise jewellery. We are listing out a few things that you can buy here

  • Thangkas and Mandalas
    You can choose the elegantly artistic Thangkas, which are scroll or cloth paintings depicting numerous shapes and forms related to Tibetan Buddhism. The cloth material is usually cotton or linen. Silk is reserved for important subjects. These rectangular pieces contain pictures of Buddha or incidences and stories of various Buddhist saints and masters. The whole process of creation is very skillful and strictly follows traditional guidelines which are passed over generations. A large piece can take months to finish. After the initial charcoal sketches, colours are filled in using natural pigmented minerals and plants, which are usually mixed with animal glues or ox bile to make them more lustrous. This is followed by mounting the finished painting on a brocaded silk border. Sometimes special intricate stitches are also used which give the picture a three dimensional effect.

    Mandala is Sanskrit word which means ‘circle’. Commonly considered as sacred art by both Buddhists and Hindus, they carry a strong spiritual and ritual significance. These are similar to Thangkas, but prepared on a square piece, depicting 4 T-shaped gates containing a circle with a centre point. The whole picture symbolises radial balance. Mandalas are supposed to have the great powers of the universe concentrated around them. Followers of tantrik forms of Buddhism try to harness this power through meditation.

  • Choktse
    Present in all Ladakhi homes, these are beautifully carved box-like tables about 2 feet in height with intricate Tibetan motifs chiselled on all sides. Choktses are usually made from Tsing or Kanth wood. The carver is skilled enough to carve out designs on the wood completely freehand with only some basic tools, without using a reference. Sometimes colours are also added to make a more striking piece.

  • Semi-precious stone jewellery
    For people who love accessories, you can find a lot of interesting rare designs in jewellery. Studded with semi-precious stones like Jade, Garnet and Turquoise, these will make very interesting additions to your personal collection. Turquoise is quite abundantly used in Ladakhi jewelry. For all you December born, this is a stylish way of wearing your birthstone. The locals believe that this stone contains healing and spiritual properties.

    Apart from the blue stone, you will find outstanding jewellery designs which use pearls, shells, red corals and silver. The usage of semi-precious stones is also extended to interesting showpieces which can be wonderful gift items.

  • Handloom and Showpieces
    From rugs, carpets and blankets designed like mandalas and thangkas, to weave bags, shawls, robes and Tibetan styled hats, you will find a full-fledged stew of Tibetan handloom and clothing items. If you are interested in buying something exclusively Ladakhi or Tibetan, reach out for the stuff made yak or pashm wool. Pashmina shawls with typical Ladakhi motifs and designs are a rage here.

    Wood and metal carving are one of the most important trademarks of the Ladakhi handicrafts. You will be spoilt for choices, when you stumble upon one of the curio shops selling this stuff. To list some of them, you will see Buddha statues, lamps, baskets, household items like bowls, pots and cutlery and loads of other cool stuff.

  • Apricots and Sea buckthorns
    How about ending your shopping on a sweet and juicy note? Alchi has a number of orchards full of these bright yellow fruits which are sold in heaps in the local village market. You will love it if you come here during the apricot season. The whole village brightens up and a sweet fruity fragrance permeates the air. Since these are perishable items, you’ll do better if you buy the fruit preserves, juices or dried apricots. You must try the juice of the tart Sea buckthorns which is quite popular among the locals. And a bite of the local bread slathered with homemade apricot jam will send you straight to heaven. If you choose to get this, we are sure you will never miss your breakfast, at least not till you finish the bottle.

Most of these shops are concentrated around the monasteries or restaurants which attract tourists. It is a small village and you will be able to cover almost all the shops on foot and still have time on your hands to do other things. Look into the shops and talk to the local shopkeepers, you are sure to get some remarkable stories and insights from them. You may find the prices to be a little on the steeper side, but you can give up the thoughts of haggling right now. You skills won’t be of much help here.

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