When shopping in Mamallapuram, you’ll see the influence of the nearby quarries and seaside – nearly every shop and marketplace will contain handcrafted pieces made from local stones and sea shells.
You’ll find stone cutters in the Mamallapuram complex and on the roads leading in and out of the town, and many will let you watch them at work. When visiting these sites you may get a little pressure to buy, but decline politely if not interested. The statues, mostly Hindu deities, make a wonderful souvenir or gift from India. They come in all sizes – ranging from huge sculptures which can only be lifted by cranes to those that fit in the palm of your hand – and all price ranges. Be sure to check out the enormous sculptures sold outside Aruna’s Penance Monument.
You’ll find small shops outside of the major monuments that sell items made from seashells. Expect everything from preserved full shells to jewelry, sculpture, and home decorations made from shells found on local beaches, and don’t be afraid to bargain for a better price.
Where to Find the Best Deals
There are a lot of shops around the main sightseeing places that sell stone carvings and other gifts. However, if you are looking for stone sculptures, the fancy shops in these areas will typically charge more than buying directly from an artisan – find many of their home workshops on the way to Ratha.
In addition to stone statues, street vendors outside of the Shore Temple sell leather sandals, table cloths, pashminas, jewelry, and bronze art objects at a good price. At any of these locations, you can bargain with vendors.
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