Boudha stupa et foulards

Let's "pash" around Boudha stupa

Shopping for pashmina is possible around Boudha Stupa. It is a very ancient holy monument and one of the largest in Nepal. Buddhist come here from all over to circumambulate. Or as simply said in the local language, do “coras”,

walking clockwise around stupas, statues, even monasteries, mountains or any other holy grounds. 

 

cora

 

The premise

The circular road area surrounding the stupa is pedestrian. The whole adjoining area is a lively, happy place tucked away from noisy and dirty Kathmandu main streets. There are about 75 stores around facing h stupa, selling mostly religious paraphernalia like statues, paintings, mala beads, prayer wheels. But also tourist souvenir shops, incense, CD’s, textiles, copper work, jewelry, singing bowls, carpets and of course, scarves and pashminas.

 

shops

 

My mission

There are eight stores explicitly selling scarves among other things. My aim is to guide those looking for a pashmina and having no time or interest to travel to far away busy Thamel, where is better option to buy the. So I did just like a visitor, started from the main gate, walking clockwise. And as a distracted shopper would do, I glanced at storefronts, looking for one selling scarves. For this review. I don't check in radial alleys. It has to be easily accessible form the cora ground.  Then on the second round, I start going in those shops, for my investigation.

 

onshelves


The product

All visitors to Nepal (I haven’t met one who didn’t) will buy at least one scarf or pashmina before leaving the country. So I do as an average visitor, I enter the store and go straight to the most popular product here: the stole size similar cashmere in natural colors, with or without stripes.  It is sold as cashmere and is priced between 1000 and 1500 in Thamel, 1200 being a good price and average. I know without doubt the fiber content of this scarf, having visited factories of a major and reliable producer.  It contains no cashmere, only wool, in varying proportion mixed with acrylic.

 

thescarf


The Verdict

All eight shop sell this popular scarf and the asking price varies between 1800 to 4500 Nepalese rupees,  2500 rupee being the most common price, so twice what Thamel shops will ask for upfront. The cheaper one at 1800 could also be a Chinese import of low quality. Sellers are not much open to negotiation here, as they know the shoppers are captive and in a hurry, with very few options. So prices will rarely go lower than 2000, unless you have excellent haggling skills. Even Nepali visitors will pay around 2000 rupees, as they are on their very special pilgrimage trip and willing to spend.

All shopkeepers claimed this scarf is 100% cashmere or 100% pashmina. Some specified that it is of low-grade cashmere (C quality) One other said it was actually a mix of  cashmere and wool. If I objected because of the price, they offered as  an alternative the Chinese synthetic products, also sold as 100% pashmina. It hurts when I am told very seriously these cheap scarves are cashmere. I know it is not, but then most buyers don’t. Cashmere is a precious and a wonderful fiber. I fear that since this is Boudha, a holy place, and the price is set very high with a 100% cashmere tag, people will naively believe it.

 

My recommendation

If you are in a hurry and want to buy your scarf at Boudha stupa, I recommend two shops. Hyolmo Handicraft for the Nepalese scarves, and Persian Handicraft on the opposite side for more expensive Kashmiri art work and cashmere.

 

hyolmo2

 

Hyolmo Handicraft
They have two stores. The original one is on the right of the northern giant bell. The other is next to the Flavors cafe entrance. Both sell only scarves and have a great selection; the usual nepali fair, but also a lot of Punjabi fine wool, and some cheap chinese imports. Be sure to deal with either the owner or Netu, an experienced scarf seller who will tell the truth about the composition of the scarves if asked.

 

persian art

 

Persian Art

This store held by an Indian from Kashmir, next to the small southern exit towards Boudha street, by la Casita restaurant. Sells a variety of textiles from both India and Nepal. Has all the standard low-grade Nepali pashminas. But also some kashmiri products, from plain cashmere scarves up to the very expensive embroidery works. Ask for the owner Amir. A good place if this is what you want, otherwise stick to the other shop. This shop has very high asking prices and you will need to haggle a lot. So better know the products and real value before attempting to buy the expensive pashminas.

 

map

 

Conclusion

Shopping around stupa is great for the Buddhist accessories, yet better go into the radial stores or surrounding lanes, as you will have a better bargaining power not being on the captive circular road. If you have little time and looking for great gift pashminas and scarves, shop at Boudha. It is also a good place to buy a pashmina for your favorite monk (or if you are a monk yourself) as the shopkeepers around the stupa tend to keep more of the burgundy colored scarves and blankets. Go to both recommended stores and ask for the owners or make sure you are dealing with staff having good knowledge and joyful enthusiasm.

 

monk

At Boudha stupa, this color is very common

 

 

 

 

 

 

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