Planning a Trip to Chennai in 2019? Follow This Guide on Top 10 Things to Buy in Chennai

Planning a Trip to Chennai in 2019? Follow This Guide on Top 10 Things to Buy in Chennai

Chennai is a modern metropolis of India. However, it still maintains a connection with its roots. This is visible in the cultural influences on a variety of products available here. From silk to artifacts, to accessories, to jewelry, there are many things to look out for. Follow this guide to know more.

History of the Metropolis Chennai

Chennai, formerly known as Madras is the capital of Tamil Nadu and is considered to be the fourth largest city in India. The city is flanked on the east by the Bay of Bengal and the coastline is known as Coromandel Coast.

The famous kingdoms such as the Pallava, the Chola, and the Pandyas ruled over Chennai. Later, the city was under the rule of the Portuguese, French and the British. Initially, the city was a fishing village named Madrasapattinam but was later shortened to Madras by the British East India Company. They built fort St.George that served as the administrative and commercial headquarters of the British. The city was christened as Chennai in 1996 by the government of Tamil Nadu.

Chennai Is Known for These Awesome Things

The metropolitan city is well connected by road, rail, and air making it a prominent tourist destination. The historical city is famous for Dravidian style architecture that can be seen in the famous Shore Temple and Tiger Caves located in Mahabalipuram. The Chepauk Palace, Egmore Museum, Senate House, High Court building and Rippon building are a testament to the city's famed Indo-Saracenic architecture.

The city is also famous for its religious sites such as the 16th century Kapaleeswarar Temple, Santhome Basilica, St.Thomas Mount Church, Wallajah Mosque, Armenian Church and Theosophical society. The Marina beach boasts of having the longest shoreline and city is lined with numerous hotels and resorts. The city is famous for an array of products such as cotton textiles, silk sarees, handicraft items, carved statues, Tanjore paintings and many more.

Silk Products

The city is famous for textiles with materials ranging from cotton, jute, handloom, and many others but among them, silk holds a place of pride. Silk is associated with royalty and people visiting Chennai always make it a point to purchase a silk saree. The city is located in close proximity to Kancheepuram, the silk hub of Tamil Nadu.

The silk sarees are well-known for their richness and tradition. The city is lined with numerous textile showrooms that showcase the rich heritage of the city. Showrooms such as Nalli, The Chennai Silks, Kumaran Silks and many more take pride in displaying an array of mind-boggling silk saree collections. Moreover, these shops accommodate a customer’s request to make customized silk sarees for special occasions.

Women Accessories

The city of Chennai is synonymous with women’s accessories and one is spoilt for choice while shopping. Women can shop for regular accessories as well as accessories required for special occasions. If you are looking for a bulk purchase, you can head to Parry’s Corner. The area comprises of hundreds of shops that sell women’s accessories at a wholesale price. If you want to purchase selected accessories such as bangles, earrings, necklace, etc., you can head to Pondy Bazaar located in T Nagar. The shops possess a wide collection of accessories at an affordable price. Moreover, if you are good at bargaining you can bag a good deal on your purchase.

For specific accessories such as dance, temple and wedding jewelry, you can head to Mylapore as well as T-Nagar for purchasing ethnic jewelry with good craftsmanship. For trendy women’s accessories, you can head to shopping complexes and malls such as Spencer Plaza, Phoenix, Palladium, Express Avenue and much more. Furthermore, women who are looking for authentic gold, silver and diamond jewelry can head to numerous well-known jewelry showrooms located in and around T Nagar.

Wooden Artifacts

Similar to its historical past, the city is famous for its art and craft items. The city is abundant in talents and nurtures creative artists. There are numerous registered trusts and organizations which nurture the talent of budding artists. Among them, the Victoria Technical Institute occupies a place of pride. Located in the iconic Anna Salai, the institute was established in 1887 on the jubilee of Queen-Empress Victoria.

The institute comprises of numerous wooden artifacts made from white wood, teak wood, rosewood, sandalwood, and many more. Moreover, people visiting the institute can shop for terracotta items, brass, bronze and copper items.

Sculptures and Paintings

The city is famous for its stone sculptures and one can take a trip to Mahabalipuram to see the stone sculptures in varying sizes. The handcrafted stone sculptures of Mahabalipuram have received the Geographical Indications (GI) tag by India due to its uniqueness. This feature offers better legal protection for authenticity and uniqueness.

The stone sculptures are characterized by a wide forehead, hanging ears, long eyes, and an oval shaped face, slender and curvaceous shape. These sculptures depict the forms of god and goddesses and scenes from Tamil literature. The city is also famous for its Tanjore paintings, it is a classical South Indian painting style that originated from Thanjavur located in Tamil Nadu. The paintings are characterized by rich and vivid colours with glittering gold foil overlay accompanied by precious and semi-precious stones.

Things to Remember While Shopping in Chennai

The city is a busy metropolitan area and tends to get crowded during the weekend and festive occasions. Some streets such as Pondy Bazaar and Ranganathan Street located in TNagar can tend to be overcrowded. It is advisable to plan accordingly.

  • Many of the crowded places are frequented by pickpockets, it is advisable to keep your belongings safe at all times.
  • Many shopkeepers may cheat unsuspecting visitors by luring them, with cheap goods for exorbitant rates. To avoid being cheated, it is suggested to inspect the goods well before buying.
  • Explore the shops on foot to have a good overall shopping experience, moreover, parking is a constraint when it comes to shopping in T Nagar.
  • The city is lined with numerous shops that offer better deals on products when compared to its giant counterparts.

Best Things to Bring Back from Chennai

Kancheepuram Silk Sarees


Kancheepuram silk sarees are woven from pure mulberry silk and gold zari. According to mythology, the weavers from Kancheepuram are said to be descendants of a sage named Markanda. The sage is considered to be the master weaver of Gods of woven tissue fibre from lotus. An authentic Kancheepuram silk saree is made from three shuttle weaves that are interlocked together.

The saree comprises of a unique colored body with a different border. All the panels such as the body of the saree, pallu, and the border are weaved separately and delicately joined together making them unique. The sarees are distinguished by wide contrast borders, temple borders, checks, stripes, and traditional buttas. The designs are influenced by paintings, temple scenes, birds, leaves and animals. The pink Kancheepuram silk saree comprises of butta designs on the body with a zari border. The silk saree can be purchased for Rs.10,694 from Nalli Silks.

Tanjore Painting


As mentioned earlier, Tanjore paintings are patronized by the Maratha princes and many notable communities. The paintings are dense and impart a surface richness with vibrant colours.. The paintings are comprised of embellishments made with semi-precious stones, pearls, and glass and gold overlays. The relief work of the painting provides it with a three-dimensional effect and originated under the Cholas.

The theme of the painting revolves around Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The painting is done on a single plank of wood and is considered to be unique. The thulabharam antique finish semi-embossed Tanjore painting is handmade with 22 karat gold leaves and embellished with authentic Jaipur gems. The frame is made of teak wood and unbreakable fibreglass. The painting will sure occupy a place of pride in your home and can be purchased for Rs.22,000 from Tamil Tanjore Art Gallery.

Terracotta Wall Hangings


Terracotta is a type of clay-based earthenware that has a porous body. The name terracotta species sculptures that are made from the earthenware. Terracotta can be used to make flower pots, vessels, water pipes, roofing tiles, and for decorative purposes. They have a signature red-orangish shade that can be embellished or painted as per one’s preference.

Chennai is famous for terracotta potteries as they are environment-friendly and encourage local artists. The terracotta pot comes with a lid and is also available in various sizes. These terracotta pots are 100% non-toxic and a healthy choice for cooking and storing food. This terracotta cookware and pottery is available for Rs.450 onwards from Mayan Arts.

Stone Carvings

Stone sculptures are an essential part of Chennai and its surroundings. The stone sculptures available in Mahabalipuram are exclusive of the region and have carved a niche for themselves. The stone sculptures available in Mahabalipuram are traditionally made by expert sculptures.

The statues are intricately carved using various techniques by skilled labours. The Creative Sculptors have made a name for themselves by capturing national and international consideration for their creativity and dedication. They have completed projects in Ireland, Singapore, and various star clients. You can contact them to know more about the price and sculpture designs. Check out the link here

Silver Anklets

Chennai is famous for women’s accessories and jewelry ranging from gold to silver. Among them, silver anklets are preferred by women all over India. The silver anklets are intricately designed with various embellishments.

There are anklets available with Swarovski crystals, two-step silver anklets, and charm based anklets. Moreover, based on customer’s request silver anklets are elaborately designed and studded with semi-precious stones. These anklets are sturdy, easy to maintain and are easy to wear. A wide range of silver anklets is available for Rs.700 onwards from GRT Jewels.

Traditional Temple Jewelry

Temple jewelry is the jewelry that was used to adorn the idols of Gods and Goddesses. Usually, Indian jewelry is divided into three types – temple jewelry, spiritual jewelry, and bridal jewelry. Temple jewelry can be seen in statues as chunky necklaces with strung beads and intricate filigree designs.

These temple jewelry are made by expert craftsmen and studded with precious gems such as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. These pieces of jewelry impart a regal look to the wearer and is an essential part of Tamil Nadu heritage. The divine temple gold jewelry with intricate detailing is available for Rs.2,19,203 from Malabar Gold and Diamonds.

Brass Lamps

Brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc as per varying mechanical and electrical properties. Brass lamps are usually preferred for decoration due to its gold-like appearance. It is usually preferred as a lamp due to its resistive properties due to high malleability.

The 6-inch brass pooja lamp is intricately carved with a wide base for increased stability. The head of the lamp is cone-shaped with a wider place for storing oil and has five threads. The lamp is intricately designed and is suitable for divine worship. The brass lamp is available for Rs.435 from Poompuhar Handicrafts.

Handicraft Items

Handicraft items occupy a place of pride and are preferred for decorative purposes. The Victoria Technical Institute has meticulously carved a niche for itself and stocks a wide variety of handicraft items. They specialize in making handicraft items made from metals such as silver, copper, brass, and bronze. The handicraft items are also made from wood and stone.

These handicraft items are crafted by expert craftsmen and are available at affordable prices. The handmade sheesham wood spice box is made from Sheesham wood in classic brown colour. This multipurpose box is used for storing fresheners and various assorted items. The multipurpose storage box is available for Rs.872 from Victoria Technical Institute Chennai.

Interesting Books

Higginbotham’s is known as India’s oldest-known bookstore and is a paradise for book lovers. The store began its operations in 1844 as a religious bookstore. Over the years, the iconic building with white arches and wooden railings has seen numerous customers. Even after 150 years, the book shop begins to thrive and stocks books of every kind ranging from toddler books, pregnancy, science books, and cookery. Check out Higginbotham website.

Bamboo/Cane Furniture

Bamboo is an eco-friendly choice when it comes to making furniture. Due to the growing demand for wooden furniture, the forest is being deforested at an alarming rate. On the other hand, bamboo is a species that grows in abundance and grows very quickly when compared to hardwood trees. The bamboo furniture is durable, resistant to swelling and shrinking, of aesthetic appeal and elegant appearance. The traditionally made cane swing is made from premium Assam Cane and imparts a regal look. The cane swing is available in a range of colours and is available for Rs.7,500 from Chennai Chairs.

From our editorial team

Shop for These State-of-the-Art Items from Chennai on Your Next Trip in 2019

Chennai is known for being the best of both worlds. From being a sprawling metropolis to maintaining its cultural roots, it has become a hub for tourists. So, if you are also planning a trip to Chennai this year, don't forget to bring back these items to cherish forever.