To protect India’s cultural heritage, the export of certain antiques is prohibited, especially those which are verifiably more than 100 years old. Reputable antique dealers know the laws and can make arrangements for an export-clearance certificate for old items that are OK to export. Detailed information on prohibited items can be found on the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) website (http://asi.nic.in). The rules may seem stringent, but the loss of ancient artworks and sculptures due to the international trade in antiques has been alarming. Look for quality reproductions instead.
The Indian Wildlife Protection Act bans any form of wildlife trade. Don’t buy any product that endangers threatened species and habitats – doing so can result in heavy fines and even imprisonment. This includes ivory, shahtoosh shawls (made from the down of the rare chiru, the Tibetan antelope) and anything made from the fur, skin, horns or shell of any endangered species. Products made from certain rare plants are also banned.