Chennai’s amazing culture and its myriad of attractions make it a great and memorable destination to visit. However, if you want to take back something more than just memories from Chennai, here are some of the best souvenir shops and markets to visit in the city.
One of the most popular items you can get when it comes to souvenirs is graphic t-shirts. And Chennaigaga, a fairly recent establishment in Chennai, is giving pop culture fans a great place to express themselves by putting it on a tee. While most souvenir t-shirts usually just include variations of ‘I Love Chennai’, Chennaigaga focuses on cultural references that anyone who’s spent even a little time in Chennai can relate to instead.
Spencer Plaza has the unique distinction of being India’s oldest shopping mall and was once one of the top shopping destinations in all of Chennai. In recent years though, the mall has been overtaken by newer and swankier ones in terms of brands and high street fashion options. However, Spencer Plaza more than makes up for this by being the go-to place for everything from memorabilia and souvenirs to leather and handicraft items. As for souvenirs, the mall has a number of great niche shops that offer everything from printed t-shirts or keychains to decorative items.
If you’re visiting Chennai as part of a South India tour and find the culture of this region to be pretty interesting, then you should definitely stop by Dakshinachitra, a museum cum culture village located on the scenic East Coast Road in Muttukadu. Apart from scores upon scores of exhibits, life-size figures and artifacts, this culture village is also a great destination for doing some offbeat shopping. There are a number of shops and stalls within the compound that sell everything from handmade rugs and ethnic jewellery to cultural souvenirs relating to different parts of South India.
Located right in the centre of the city along Mount Road (Anna Salai), this government-owned emporium is one of the best places in South India for traditional artworks, decor items and sculptures. If you harbour a fascination for South Indian culture and art, Poompuhar is a must-visit. While it may not have conventional souvenirs, such as t-shirts or keychains, you can snag several other culturally relevant and geographically indicative items like the famous bronze Nataraja statues or ethnic jewellery from Tamil Nadu.
Old Curiosity Shop on Mount Road
This age-old hole-in-the-wall located along the arterial Mount Road has been around since the days of the British Raj and is one of the best-known destinations in Chennai for curios of all shapes and sizes. The shop houses several rare and collectable items, mostly relating to the history and heritage of Chennai, and is definitely one of the best places to shop for souvenirs. After all, what better way to remember your trip to Chennai than by bringing back a piece of its history with you?
CHAYA – Tanjore Art & More
This one-of-a-kind gift store in Alwarpet is famous for its collection of exquisite Tanjore-style artworks. From framed paintings to sculptures and even traditional toys, the shop is a great destination for anyone interested in Tamil Nadu’s artistic heritage.
Artefacts from Mahabalipuram
Apart from its azure beaches and exquisite temples, the one thing that Mahabalipuram is best-known for is its great tradition of sculpture work. There are several dozen traditional artisans and sculptors in and around this temple town that have carried forward their ancient and hereditary forms of sculpting across generations. If you are of the artistic bent and want to take back something a little bigger and more amazing than just a t-shirt, a visit to the sculpture shops of Mahabalipuram should definitely be on your itinerary.