India has a rich culture and history, and this is often best displayed in the many traditional markets in India. In a world where buying anything is just a click away, these bazaars and markets are like an echo of an older era that still continues to exist.
These often labyrinthine markets have been a vital part of Indian culture, trade and social life for centuries, through the Mughal and British eras. Whether you are a shopaholic or not, you still need to experience the vibe of these markets. The Indian marketplace is often chaotic and bustling, there is always something going on. The sights, sounds and smells are all stimulating and unique to the beautiful chaos that is India. They are also an excellent place to buy everything from clothes to jewellery, fruits and vegetables, street food and much more – all in one place. Just remember, bargaining is part and parcel of this experience!
14 traditional markets in India You Must Visit
1. Chandni Chowk, Delhi – Dating Back To The 17th Century
Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets in India. This busy market dates back to the 17th-century when it was established by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his daughter Jahanara. The endless shops sell all kinds of things, such as jewellery, perfumes, traditional clothes, wedding paraphernalia, leather goods, electronics, spices, antiques, souvenirs and knick-knacks, as well as delicious food. Don’t miss the Khari Baoli, the largest wholesale spice market in Asia.
2. Devaraja Market, Mysore – A Bustling Market For Everyday Needs
Located just off the central Sayyaji Rao Road in Mysore, this covered market dates back to the time of Tipu Sultan. It was further expanded by Chamaraja Wodeyar IX in the late 1800s. In this lively bazaar, you’ll find all kinds of items such as flower garlands, incense, spices, household articles, mounds of turmeric and vermilion, lush green betel leaves, vegetables, fruits and more, each in its own specific section. Along the outer perimeter, you will find some famous sweet shops specialising in the iconic Mysore Pak.
3. New Market, Kolkata – Over 2000 Shops
Previously known as the Sir Stuart Hogg Market, this historic shopping destination on Lindsay Street was founded in 1874. Initially, the enclosed market was built exclusively for Calcutta’s British residents. Today the market is one of the most popular trading hubs in the city and has over 2,000 stores that sell all sorts of items from clothing to electronics, food, flowers, utensils, leather bags, and much more. It has survived various floods and fires and is still continues to be in use.
4. Floating Vegetable Market, Srinagar – Get Your Fresh Fruits And Veggies On A Boat
The picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar is famous for its floating vegetable market. This one-of-its-kind market is open between 5 am to 7 am every day. Vendors gather on the lake in traditional Kashmiri boats, known as Shikara, to sell fresh fruits and vegetables as well as wood carvings, saffron and other local items that appeal to tourists. It is now mostly tourist-centric; and huge crowds gather here each morning (usually on boats of their own) to experience this unique market.
5. Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad – A No-Vehicle Zone
Situated beside Hyderabad’s famous Charminar, Laad Bazaar is a historic market that sells just about everything; sarees, perfumes, and silverware, are just a few of the things you’ll find here. However, it is perhaps best known for its variety of bangles, especially stone-studded and glass bangles, and for its pearl jewellery. Just keep in mind that the bazaar is set in a narrow alley, where no vehicles are allowed, and it can get quite crowded.
6. Ima Keithel, Imphal – Run Entirely By Women
Located at the centre of Imphal (the capital of Manipur) is perhaps the only market in the world run entirely by women. The market dates back to the 16th-century, and is also popularly known as the ‘Mother’s Market’. Thousands of women traders sit here and sell everything from local produce to clothes, handicrafts, utensils, and more.
7. Johari Bazaar, Jaipur – A Jewellery Paradise
Johari Bazaar in Jaipur is famous for its jewellery, not surprising for a place whose name literally translates to “jeweller’s market”. It is located near the historic Hawa Mahal, making it the perfect place to visit while sightseeing. Apart from its jewellery, you will find lots of textile shops selling traditional Rajasthani wear as well as handicrafts. Johari Bazaar is usually on travel bucket lists of must-visit places in Rajasthan.
8. Chor Bazaar, Mumbai – Anything And Everything
Once known as “Shor Bazaar” (or noisy market), this famous market in Mumbai was renamed Chor Bazaar (which translates to thief’s market) due to mispronunciation by British colonists. It is full of stalls selling almost everything you could think of – handicrafts, bronze statues, vintage gramophones, clocks, lamps, furniture, trinkets, Bollywood posters, authentic (and not so authentic) antique items, and much more.
9. Jew Town, Kochi – Indulge In History While You Shop
This market in the Mattancherry area of Kochi dates back to the 16th-century. Lined with neat colonial-era Portuguese-style buildings and narrow streets, the shops sell everything from curios to antiques, handicrafts, perfumes, jewellery and spices. Many of the shopkeepers also descend from a long line of Jewish families who have lived here for generations and are often very knowledgeable about the area’s history.
10. Meena Bazaar, Delhi – India’s First Covered Market
Though Meena Bazaar is considered a part of Chandni Chowk, in Delhi, it deserves a special mention. It was built by the Mughal emperors over 300 years ago, and was the first covered bazaar in India. Located between Jama Masjid Kalan and Dalan, near the Red Fort, it is also a popular place to go wedding shopping; as it sells everything – from sarees to jewellery – that you would need for the big day.
11. Flea Markets, Goa – Colourful With A Hippie Vibe
Goa’s beaches are famous (among other things) for their flea markets. They date back to the 1980s when they started as “hippie exchanges” where the foreign tourists sold their possessions. Now they are full of stalls where both locals and foreigners sell clothes, accessories, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more; all at dirt-cheap prices. The Anjuna Flea Market held on Wednesdays, and the Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar are some of the most popular markets. Also, visit the more authentic Mapusa Friday Bazaar where women from nearby villages gather to sell homemade products.
12. Sarojini Nagar Market, New Delhi – For The Fashionistas
Everyone who enjoys fashion must visit this iconic spot in New Delhi. Sarojini Market is one of the most popular destinations in Delhi that has an awe-inspiring range of clothing and accessories at majorly discounted prices. It is the best place to go budget shopping where you’re sure to get your hands on the trendiest designs. Sarojini Nagar Market is also known as ‘S. N.’ in short by locals and residents. It was set up in the 1950s as a local market place to cater to the daily requirements of the Sarojini Nagar Government Colony residents. It is a pedestrian-only zone where you can freely walk around as you browse through all the shops. Around Sarojini Nagar Market you will find several smaller markets such as Babu Market, Central Market and ‘Subzi’ Market.
13. Mall Road, Shimla – A Busy Area For Locals And Tourists Alike
In the heart of Shimla is Mall Road, a street lined with a variety of restaurants, clubs, banks, shops, post offices and tourist offices. Mall Road is one of the busiest areas in Shimla, famous for its exciting attractions that include multiple stores you can shop from. This stretch celebrates the spirit of Shimla and can be enjoyed by groups of friends, families and honeymooners alike. Most of the stores on Mall Road are famous for their woollen clothes and exclusively handcrafted works, aside from the usual books and jewellery. Tourist spots like Scandal Point and Kali Bari Temple are also accessible from Mall Road.
14. Commercial Street, Bangalore – Budget-Friendly Options
A trip to Bangalore without visiting Commercial Street. Shopping in Bangalore is synonymous with this bustling street that is located between Kamraj Road and Shivaji Nagar. The narrow by-lanes of Commercial Street is the perfect place to spend hours looking at everything the stores have to offer. Shops selling clothes, accessories, footwear and so much more awaits you at Commercial Street that is frequented by hundreds of people every day. Budget-friendly fashion is available in plenty at Commerical street.
The Traditional Markets In India Offer More Than Just Things To Buy
All of the lively, colourful markets of India are a marker of our rich cultural heritage. Aside from the gorgeous things on sale, they are also the perfect place to explore how our culture has evolved over the years while retaining its charm and allure. Each market has its own story to tell making them must-visit destinations when you’re visiting any city in India.
Have we missed any of your favourite traditional markets in India? If so do be sure to share them in the comments below.
Chandni Chowk in Delhi is the biggest market in India
Indian markets are usually called bazaars.
Every city in India has a variety of markets which means the entire country has innumerable markets for you to shop at!
Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Gandhi Market in Mumbai and Chikpet in Bangalore are some of the best cloth markets in India.