In our short 3 days stay in Udaipur, we’ve had the good fortune of meeting kind and gentle people. None of the “in-your-face” and aggressive vendors and rickshaw drivers you will come across in other parts of India. In Udaipur, most shop owners will gently greet you with a smile and “Namaste” (although you will encounter more aggressive ones the closer you are to the main tourist attractions). Our home-stay hosts, Akshay and his family at the Little Garden Guest House, were extremely warm, welcoming and thoughtful (that deserves a separate story on its own); whilst the shops we shopped at were manned by cheerful and patient locals.
A highlight was meeting Babu from Shiva Handicrafts. What prompted me to enter his shop was a display of leather and fabric handmade notebooks outside his tiny shop. Once we entered, Babu gave us a warm smile and in the most unassuming manner, began explaining his products to us. He shared that all leather products are handcrafted from camel skin (with an emphasis that Hindus can’t kill and the leather’s from expired camels) whilst the fabric ones are from old saris. You can customise the pages within by choosing handmade paper from banana leaves, or coconut, or sunflower or rice (different smoothness).
Choices were aplenty, from diaries to photo albums to leather briefcases. Whilst we were perusing the items, Babu insisted that we sit and enjoy a cup of masala chai, as it was chai time. :) In the end, we bought a lovely handmade photo album set with lapis lazuli and a number notebooks.
Through our interactions with Babu, we could tell that he is struggling with his business, in spite of his wonderful products. Competition is tough with plenty of shops offering similar goods (plus, people copy ideas quickly from each other). Before we left, he requested that we spread the word about his business to our friends. And since I am so enchanted with Babu’s offerings and charmed by his sweet personality, I earnestly would like to say, if you visit Udaipur, you must visit Shiva Handicrafts! :) Prices are really affordable and the quality is top-notch. Importantly, I think it’s great to support local entrepreneurs like Babu who is truly passionate about his craft and goods.
Happy shopping in Udaipur!
Shop Name: Shiva Handicrafts
Address: 117, Bhatiyani Chohatta, Udaipur – 313001, Rajasthan
Landmark: Near Laxi Temple and Little Garden Guest House
Contact Number: +91 9828199604