Coming out of the heat in Delhi into the cool crisp air of Shimla is a very refreshing experience. The distant snowcapped Himalayas with a fluffy blue sky in the background offers a breathtaking view and the waves upon waves of pines add magic to the scenario. After drinking deep the natural beauty, your heart chases a slightly more materialistic pleasure…shopping! Any trip is incomplete without picking up at least a few souvenirs from there. Shimla offers a fascinating marketplace as well.
Mall road is the destination for bustling evenings. However, the truly unique market in Shimla is the Lakkar Bazaar (‘Wood Market’ translated literally) just behind the Mall road. A few shops selling wooden stuff were started by Sikh carpenters arriving from Hoshiarpur, centuries ago. Those ‘few shops’ is now a one kilometer long, narrow lane along the ridge bustling with numerous shops selling mainly wooden items. Most work is in softwood. Unlike in Karnataka, the woodwork here is not covered with colored lacquer, it shows off the grain of the wood prominently and retains the natural beauty of the wood.
There are no vehicles in that narrow lane so one can peacefully walk the whole length and window-shop.
The range of products available is quite amazing. From simple rolling pins to acupressure rollers – you get everything. There are ornaments like earrings and bangles of wood. You will see a large variety of showpieces. Idols of God and Goddesses of every faith and religion sit side by side. Depending on your budget you can choose the size and intricacy of decorative work. The craftsmanship is excellent in anything you lay your eyes on. There are animal figures and wooden toys for kids as well as for adults. Replicas of vehicles are outstanding! Bullock carts, buses, locomotives, auto rickshaws, and cycles all are fascinating to gaze at. There are miniature pots and pans and pressure cookers as well. Vases of various shapes and sizes are worth a look.
There are nameplates and plaques with various interesting massages- some religious some hilarious. It’s quite entertaining to read through them. A wide variety of pens and key chains are piled up in trays for you to pick up as tiny souvenirs. There are hats, serving trays, key-chain hangers, magazine holders and such utility items. The cuckoo clock which is a rare find nowadays is available in plenty here. I always wanted a cuckoo clock and couldn’t resist buying a beautiful piece here. The range of boxes is amazing too. Some are intricately decorated, others have inlay work. I saw some safe boxes which were very tricky to open.
The most common item is a walking stick. You will find beautifully made sticks in a large variety of shapes and sizes. The handles are particularly interesting and immensely useful while walking in and around Shimla. These are supposedly the best quality walking sticks in this region.
One can also get a variety of non-wooden stuff in Lakkar Bazaar such as bags and scarves. You just cannot leave this place without shopping for some souvenirs for yourself and for gifting. All the walking in the chilly air naturally makes you hungry. Lakkar Bazaar is dotted with food stalls and eateries. Bakeries here are great if you wish to grab some cookies, sandwiches or cakes. You get momos and pizzas on the street stalls. You can choose to sit and eat at a vegetarian Bhojanalaya or a Punjabi Dhaba. There are umpteen options to pick from.
Overall, Lakkar Bazaar proved to live up to its promise of a unique experience and is a must visit bazaar when in Shimla.