Buying souvenirs and gifts is a vital part of a trip, and Karnataka has a vast array of items to choose from. When you are in Bangalore, make sure to visit the Karnataka government handicrafts emporium—Cauvery, and pick up some souvenirs. There is something to suit all budgets—from the very expensive silks and other items, to affordable items like incense sticks or small brass lamps.
Be sure to pick up some sandalwood items---oil, incense cones, sandal soap, small carvings and scented sachets. Sandalwood is a very precious wood and the items might be expensive, but worth it. Moreover, you can buy smaller pieces—a pack of incense sticks, a bookmark or some sachets. A sachet in your cupboard will be a fragrant reminder of your visit to Karnataka! If budget permits, you might even buy the costliest soap made locally: Mysore Sandal Millenium soap (Mysore sansal soap has been the most popular item through the years) a 150 gm bar for INR 720 (about $15) due to its high percentage of pure olive and other skin conditioners.
Silk sarees are expensive, and may not be something that you will wear, but you can take back some pure silk in the form of a scarf, tie or wall hanging. Mysore silk is the most famous, though silk is produced in other places like Ramanagara. The upper floor stocks silks, bags, rosewood inlay and other gift items.
If you choose bigger items like rosewood carvings (items like small tables, wall hangings etc), you might have to arrange for them to be packed and mailed to you, so first check if the shop is willing to do that.
Bronze items are generally heavy, so pick up small pieces like ashtrays.You might also like a small lamp strung with tiny, electric lights, so you can light a traditional lamp without the conventional oil and wick! Wood carvings (not just sandalwood, but of teak and shivani) and small items like a paper cutter are useful gifts. Bidriware too is available as small plates, vases and ash trays.
Finally, if you need to take back gifts for a child, choose a colorful lacquer toy from Channapatna. Of course, there are items for adults too, like coasters and napkin holders. You will find these laquerware items just outside the main door of the emporium, on a platform on the pavement!
Tip: It always is better to shop at a government outlet, to get genuine products at the correct rates. Hotels often have commission arrangements with certain shops, which may be over priced. On the other hand, roadside shops may claim to offer genuine products at low rates, but one cannot guarantee their authenticity.
The government shops are reliable and accept international credit cards. While at Mysore, shop at the Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium, Sayyaji Rao Road. The timings are daily from 10.30 am to 8 pm.
Note: Permission has to be sought for photography at the Cauvery Emporium, Bengaluru. The items shown here were shot at the Karnataka emporium, New Delhi, as they are similar.