Held five miles (8 km) south of New Delhi in Haryana state, the Surajkund Crafts Mela will either be one of the best or one of the most frustrating shopping experiences of your life. Best because hundreds of vendors will be touting every kind of handicraft at piffling prices. Worst because you may be paralyzed by the colossal choice, dust and crowds, and come away with nothing. But whichever way you look at it, Surajkund held from February 1 to 15 is going be a vivid day out.
An annual event since 1987, the mela, or fair, is a chance for craft workers and artists from all over India to showcase their wares before an estimated 600,000 visitors. This is the place to visit for everything from Goan lace and Gujarati embroidery to South Indian temple silks, woodwork, metalwork, jewelry, pottery and much more. In recent years, the fair has also attracted regional and international artisans this year they'll be traveling from all the South Asian countries, plus Thailand, Brazil and South Africa.
Surajkund is held in tandem with a food festival, so in between haggling, visitors can sample cuisines from around the country. Further respite is provided by cultural performances at Natyashala, the site's open-air theatre. There are guided tours from New Delhi (see details at www.haryanatourism.com), and weekend entry is less than $1. That leaves you with plenty of spending money, but don't buy more than you can carry: porterage back to New Delhi is not available.