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Traditional treasures: 10 best markets in India for authentic shopping

Traditional treasures: 10 best markets in India for authentic shopping
PEOPLE & CULTURE

By Aquib Nawab

18 Jun, 2024

India is a shopper's paradise, with colorful bazaars and markets found in every city and town. From bustling flea markets to high-end handicraft emporiums, India offers endless opportunities to find unique souvenirs and local treasures. While the busy markets can feel overwhelming, they provide an authentic glimpse into local culture and traditions.

Here are 10 of the best markets in India for an authentic shopping experience:

1. Chor Bazaar, Mumbai

Located in South Mumbai, Chor Bazaar or 'Thieves Market' is one of the largest flea markets in India. With over 150 years of history, the market has humble beginnings as a place to trade stolen goods. Today, Chor Bazaar is frequented by antique collectors searching for curios, old clocks, vintage cameras, and other memorabilia.

Haggle for the best deals on brass antiques, Victorian furniture, Persian carpets, and more. The market is busiest on Fridays when you can browse through old Bollywood posters, coins, crystal ware, and even oddities like discarded airplane parts.

Chor Bazaar(Credits: Canva)

2. Dilli Haat, Delhi

Dilli Haat is an open-air food and craft bazaar located in South Delhi. Meaning 'Delhi Market', Dilli Haat has kiosks representing each state in India showcasing handicrafts, fabrics, and regional cuisine. Wander through the vibrant stalls selling silk scarves from Assam, clay pottery from Uttar Pradesh, precious gemstones from Rajasthan, and more.

Try savory snacks like Momos from Sikkim or spicy Goan fish curry as you soak in local traditions. With cultural performances, including folk dances and music, Dilli Haat is an excellent place to experience India's diversity.

Dilli Haat(Credits: Canva) 

3. Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad

The bustling Laad Bazaar located near the Charminar in Hyderabad is a riot of colors and smells. Laden with shops and street vendors selling the famous locally made Hyderabadi lacquer bangles, Laad Bazaar has an electric atmosphere.

Stalls are crammed with vibrant glass bangles, semi-precious stone jewelry, perfumes, fabrics, and Kalamkari paintings on display. Indulge your senses and munch on Hyderabadi street food like lip-smacking biryani as you get lost in the chaos of this 400-year-old market.

Laad Bazaar(Credits: Canva) 

4. Johari Bazaar, Jaipur

The lively Johari Bazaar in Jaipur is renowned for being the city’s jewelry center. As you walk along the narrow lanes, the glass-fronted stores dazzle with spectacular diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and gold jewelry. Established in the 18th century, skilled artisans still craft precious stones in traditional ways.

Watch as goldsmiths carefully work and give final touches to elaborate Indian bridal jewelry. For those on a budget, affordable options include lac bangles, enameled silver jewelry and bead necklaces.

Johari Bazaar(Credits: Canva)

5. Shilparamam Crafts Village, Hyderabad

To experience arts and crafts from all over India, head to Shilparamam Crafts Village in Hyderabad. Meaning 'hill of rocks', Shilparamam is a picturesque arts and crafts village nestled amid rock formations.With different stalls dedicated to distinct crafts like Bidriware, Nirmal paintings, stone carvings, Kalamkari, and more, it is a craft-lover's dream.

Wander through the open-air stalls, interact with artisans, and learn about ancient craft-making traditions that are kept alive. Pick up exquisite handicrafts like rosewood carvings, Warli paintings, copperware, and Banarasi silks as souvenirs.

Shilparamam Crafts Village(Credits: LBB)

6. Chappan Bazaar, Indore

Located in the heart of Indore’s Sarafa Bazaar, Chappan Bazaar is a street food lover’s paradise. Famous for its 56 (chappan) food stalls, it offers the chance to sample delicacies from Indore’s street food culture that draws influences from Mughlai and Maharashtrian cuisines.

Indulge in local specialties like garadu (colossal wheat buns smeared with spicy mashed potatoes), dahi vada, shikanji, and kachoris. The bustling bazaar is busiest after sunset when snacks sizzle on grills, sweet shops do roaring business, and the tempting smells draw in the crowds.

Chappan Bazaar(Credits: mpholidays)

7. Mapusa Market, Goa

While Goa is known for its beaches, Mapusa Market in North Goa is the state’s most authentic local market. Every Friday, the sleepy town comes alive as vendors and food stalls fill the streets. Shop for delectable Goan chorizo sausage, vinegar infused recheado masala, strings of colorful cashew nuts, and bars of feni liqueur made from cashews or coconuts.

Lookout for colorful Portuguese-inspired pottery, lacework, shell craft, and crochet items. Later, relax at one of the local taverns to try Goa’s famed seafood curries with a glass of port wine.

Mapusa Market(Credits: Canva)

8. Mall Road, Shimla

With snaking cobbled lanes lined with shops, eateries, and ice cream vendors, Mall Road located in Shimla's bustling center is ideal for leisurely strolls. During British colonial rule, this pedestrian avenue was once reserved exclusively for their activities.

Today, it's filled with stores and stalls selling woolen shawls, caps, embroidered garments, chiselled woodwork, and classic Himalayan artifacts. Savour piping hot momos, try apple candy, and sip on ginger lemon honey tea as you take in views of the surrounding hills.

Mall Road(Credits: Canva) 

9. King’s Street, Pondicherry

No trip to the gorgeous French Quarter of Pondicherry is complete without visiting King's Street for shopping. The rose-hued promenade is dotted with charming boutiques, art galleries, and cafés. Browse through shelves stacked with perfumes, handmade soaps, leather-bound journals, incense, printed fabrics, and pottery.

Relish a fresh brewed coffee between your retail therapy sessions and watch the world go by. King's Street is the perfect place in Pondicherry to uncover unique Indian wares with a distinct colonial French influence.

King’s Street(Credits: todays traveller) 

10. Nagoba Market, Kohima

Hidden within Kohima's narrow lanes is the lively Nagoba market - an ethnically diverse tribal market. Filled with stalls run by the Angami, Chakhesang, and Dimasa tribes, it offers a glimpse into Nagaland's indigenous craftsmanship. Comb through piles containing exquisite Naga shawls, wood carvings, bamboo products, and metal craft.

Try the market's unusual delicacies like silkworm pupae fritters, snails, hornets and roasted rats. For a more local Naga experience, savour dishes made from steaming meats and vegetables served on fresh banana leaves in the busy market lane eateries.

King’s Street(Credits: thelocavore) 

With its bustling bazaars and thriving street markets, India offers an unparalleled shopping experience. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors as you uncover rare finds, interact with friendly vendors, and witness local trades being practiced just as they have been for centuries.

These authentic markets allow you to discover India’s diverse culture, cuisine, and creativity.

To make the most out of your shopping adventures, consider staying in a friendly hostel that can give you insider tips on exploring the markets. The Hosteller has fantastic, well-located hostels in cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Goa, and more to serve as the perfect base as you hunt for treasures at India's incredible markets.

Their accommodating staff and cozy communal spaces make it easy to connect with fellow travelers and get the best recommendations.

So pack your bags, don your bargaining hat, and get ready for a one-of-a-kind shopping spree across India’s captivating markets. You never know what hidden gems you may uncover along the way!
 

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