Shopping in Rameshwaram
The land of temples at the southernmost tip of Rameshwaram has many things beyond its obvious spiritual connect. One among these is the variety of shopping options from the markets around the temples, beach side shacks, sea shell marts and large stores that sell everything you would possibly need. In fact even if you are not looking to make a big purchase and are keen to pick up souvenirs for family and friends, you will be spoilt for choice. The beach town has a character that is so unique and naturally what you shop here will be something that you probably have not seen anywhere else. Also being a small town, it is pretty simple to navigate around the small lanes and alleys here. So if you are a shopaholic like me there is much to do so set some time apart and gear up for some retail therapy. We tell you some of the distinct things you can buy in this beach town.
Visit a sea shell mart
Something that I found most unique in Rameshwaram are the sea shell marts – yes you read that right. Step in and you see rows and rows of sea shells of all shapes and sizes that suit every kind of budget! In fact the street leading from the beach (Agni Theertham) to Ramanatha Swamy Temple is filled with shops. Sea shell handicrafts are also available in shops around the temples. In fact at some of the shops near the Agni Theertham you can also get your name to be etched on the surface of the sea shell! Apart from individual shells that come in different sizes, the sea shell marts are full of products made from sea shells. These include mirrors, wall hangers, shell curtains that can be used as a separators in a home, watches, shell jewellery, shell lamps, shell key chains, shell pen holders, shell carvings and even shell hair accessories! The Gandhi Sea shell mart at Market Street and Kalam Sea shell mart at Mosque street near Abdul Kalam gallery are good choices as far as making your shell purchases are concerned.
Local arts and handicrafts
The numerous temples of Rameshwaram have a bustling shopping area teeming with little shops that sell exquisite items that are local to the region. So whether it is wall-decorative accessories, statues and other handcrafted items made locally, you will find it all here. Framed photographs of Gods and Goddesses are a big hit with pilgrims and tourists alike. However if you are looking for local handicrafts then you’ll more than pleased because many of the shops here sell handicrafts like decorative pieces and ornaments made of seashells. Local handicrafts of Tamil Nadu like brass figurines, brass lamps, Thanjavur art plates, bronze artefacts and local paintings among others are also available here. Hand crafted key chains, pen holders and framed mirrors are popular as well. In fact items made of shell both utility, decorative and personal use is available in all handicraft stores locally. Also items made of coconut shells are a popular buy that make for a memorable souvenir too.
Rameshwaram is well known for its silk saris. So get ready to loosen your purse strings as these do not come cheap. However being a speciality of the state you have several shops that sell these delicate silks in the form of not just sarees but also dress materials and other clothing items. Tamil Nadu as a state is well known for its silks thanks to the silk hubs in Kanchipuram and adjoining Arni regions. So when you are in Rameshwaram it is a good idea to buy silk sarees and rest assured you will be treated to a wide choice of designs, colours and textures that are sure to take your breath away. Also the choice is wide and the sarees available will suit varied budgets. So from ornate pure silks to soft silks to cotton silk blends, the sarees in these stores have an amazing range. You can check the silks in the shops located near the government parking, shrines and near Agni Theertham as well as in the textile stores at Varthakan street and Middle street.
Rameshwaram is also known for khadi fabrics and items made from it. So whether it is dress material, running fabric or clothes you will find a large collection made with khadi. The best part is that these are woven products made from natural, cotton threads. The texture of this fabric is thick and apart from sarees, you also have stoles, salwar kameez, kurtas and dupattas all in khadi fabric which does not burn a hole in your pocket and is quite unique. Being a locally grown fabric, this is not just popular with foreigners but also local tourists alike. In fact new age designs are being incorporated in khadi to ensure that it appeals to the younger generation as well. The best place to check this out is at the Khadi Gramadoyog located in Big Bazaar street.
There are two kinds of jewellery that is popular in Rameshwaram. The ones made from beads and trinkets made using sea shells as well as pure gold and silver ones. Earrings and necklaces made of palm leaves and coconut shells are also popular in these parts. For budget purchases, check out the large range of iimitation, pearl and sea shell jewellery. Special mention must be made of pearl jewellery as it is available in abundance here. However it is wise to exercise prudence as many of the pearls are not real, especially the ones sold in smaller street side stores. Exquisite earrings, neck pieces, finger rings and bangles are on display here and you will certainly be spoilt for choice. Alternately, if you want the real thing, check out the gold jewellery stores in Varthakan street that retail pure gold jewellery.
- Bargaining is a must in the smaller shops as tourists are usually quoted inflated prices.
- Check the item you want to buy in two or more stores so that you can identify the right price for it.
- Shop in the morning hours.
- Beware of poor imitations being sold at a lower rate.
- Beware of people trying to sell floating rocks especially near the Laxman Setu. Do not be cheated saying the money will be used for a building construction!
This story appeared on Happytrips.com here.