Shopping in Ladakh is incomplete without purchase of the rare Pashmina shawls, the knotted silk Kashmiri carpets and the Buddhist religious artefacts. Though, it is very difficult to find a place that sells authentic forms of these goods. To give you an example, there are hundreds of shops in Leh that sell the Pashmina shawls and that even pass the 'ring test’ (where the entire Pashmina shawl passes through a finger ring without getting stuck), but they are clever copies of the original.
To check the authenticity of Pashmina material, either take a knowledgeable local with it while shopping or wear it and see how fast you get warm in it. If you feel very warm in less than 3 minutes, then it has more probability of being original Pashmina material. If you still have doubts, do check out Zanskar Arts on Leh’s main market. This shop sells original stuff, but can be a bit pricey. However, you can strike a good deal if you bargain hard. Me and my friends went to this place after our local friend recommended it to us. In fact, we got lucky and our local friend joined us when we went shopping here. Since our local friend joined us, we ended up getting a slightly better cost deal. While we were checking out the wares, the shop owner showed us both original Pashmina shawls and lookalike Pashmina shawls and how both of them pass the ‘ring test’ and weigh about the same. The original Pashmina shawl can cost anywhere between 2,500 rupees to 80,000 rupees depending on the handiwork in it.
In addition to having original Pashmina material like shawls, stoles and sweaters, Zanskar Arts also has a great collection of silk knotted and woven Kashmiri carpets. These carpets come in various sizes like 3 feet by 5 feet, 6 feet by 4 feet, 10 feet by 12 feet and others. The silk knotted carpets are more expensive than the woven ones. And if the knots are more per square inch, then the price increases. To give you an idea of the price, a higher knot silk carpet of size 3 feet by 5 feet can cost you upwards of 45,000 rupees. This shop has carpets ranging from 5,000 rupees to 5 lakh rupees. And the best part is they deliver these carpets free of cost to any location in India.
Apart from Pashmina shawls and Kashmiri carpets, Zanskar Arts also deals in jewellery, gem stones and Buddhist artefacts. Their jewellery collection is quite exhaustive with rings, chains, pendants in diamond, gold, silver, precious and semi precious stones. In terms of Buddhist artefacts, they have Prayer wheels, hand beaten and machine made prayer bowls, large size statues of Buddha, Buddhist trumpets and others.
Apart from having a shop in Leh’s main market, Zanskar Arts is also present in North Goa. If you are unable to find the place, you can call 91 97642 67948 and ask for directions. While shopping here, keep in mind that this is a Kashmiri shop who keeps hefty gross margins and hence remember to bargain hard. If you seek cheaper options or smart copies, then there are a lot of options you will find in the Leh Market especially in and around Moti market.