We live in a world, high on digitalization. Everything that is a necessary or a luxury, is a click or two away. Being offline is the new luxury. The idea to go to the market, to procure the essentials, seems from the historic age. I have noticed, these days, when after months, I go out to the market, I am grappled with some kind of discomfort. Still, the flea markets have an unadulterated charm and attract dozens of crowds. Watching people, to purchasing handmade trinkets, relishing the aroma of spices wafting into the air or the unruly racket of experienced hagglers, a flea market is an experience that will leave you with history and culture of the place.
I have travelled quite a bit within India and while travelling, I make sure to visit the flea markets, get into the skin of the place. From my observations, I have rounded up the best flea markets in India, for you.
Colaba Causeway, Mumbai
The one-stop-shop for everything, this is a shopper’s paradise.You will find clothing, second hand jewellery, handicrafts, books, souvenirs, bags, name it and you will find it. Tourists are attracted to this colourful bustling market and even the locals flock this place.
Chor Bazaar, Mumbai
You might think Chor Bazaar’s name to be derived from the fact that it’s a thieves’ market, that is absolutely not very different from the truth. Originally, the market was actually called Shor Bazaar, but that quickly got corrupted because the British pronounced it as ‘Chor.’ The name stuck, and India inherited the mispronunciation. The shopkeepers at the bazaar have been true to the reputation, though, and if your haggling skills are good you can find some of the best second hand antiquities and trinkets in abundance.
Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad
It is situated in an alley. Visually vivid, this place is famous for beautiful and colourful bangles, semi-precious stones, pearls and other jewellery.
Arpora Saturday Night Market, Goa
This is more of a carnival than a flea market. It is open only on Saturday nights and you will find clothes, handmade accessories, shoes, bags, home decor and a lot more. To add to it there is street food and live music. This is an experience that I highly recommend.
Sarojini Nagar, Delhi
You must experience shopping at this place once. With the best of available fashion in a bargainable price, this place will enchant you. I have bought the best of international brands clothes in less than half the price fro here.
Parry’s Corner, Chennai
A world of colours, this place is packed with people. You can pick anything from books to clothes to everyday household items. You need to daunt your way through the crowd.
Johari Bazaar, Jaipur
Johari Bazaar is a place where five hundred stores call it a home and it caters to every mood and every need. From jewels, gems, precious stones, to just traditional Rajasthani gold jewelry, the market is full of skilled artisans with generations of experience in the field, which helps them find the best match for you. To add to that, the other markets like Bapu Bazaar and Nehru Bazaar, are in the surrounding where you can find gorgeous garbs as well. You need to sip into the lassi at and everything is a perfect equation.
Anjuna Flea Market, Goa
Every flea market has its own story and Anjuna’s is rather fascinating. There’s a story that the Anjuna Flea Market was started decades ago by a bunch of hippies who created handcrafted merchandise that helped them fund their stay in Goa. Today, the market only operates on Wednesdays and has the best merchandise from all around the country available at multifarious stalls that are set up by locals in the area. This flea market is complete with delicious street food and amazing live performances to go with the shopping.
Ima Market, Manipur
It is one of the oldest markets in India, and even the spectacular one too. Ima Market, is run solely by thousands of women, making it Asia’s largest (and in all probability, one of a kind) all-women’s market. The self-dependent women sell everything from handicrafts to fish in a remarkable setting that is simply unheard of and hard to find elsewhere. In fact, its origins are said to date back to the 16th century, making it one of oldest women empowerment movements in the country.
Dilli Haat, Delhi
The word ‘haat‘ is used to describe a market in many parts of rural India. Dilli Haat, essentially, is a traditional rural market. Situated in the south of the chaotic capital, the ‘haat’ has been operational since 1994 and has various exclusive and exotic handicrafts on offer that showcase the talent of the many skilled artisans and the terrific detailing and intricacies with which they work. You can experience many cultural and musical performances while shopping in the market.
Chandni Chowk, Delhi
Built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara, it remains one of India’s largest and busiest markets. You will find the most freshly made Indian sweets, the taste of which will linger in your mouth, the Chowk is also famous for home decor items, various fabrics, junk jewelry, as well as electronics.
Sardar Market, Jodhpur
Situated a stone’s throw away from the famous Mehrangarh Fort, the panoply of the market will quickly have you under its spell. You will find mojris, handicrafts, textiles, bangles, and even unadulterated spices by and you can get them for a good deal, if you are good at bargaining.
Janpath Market, Delhi
Janpath is one of the most impressive flea markets. The name literally translates to the people’s path, and the kilometer-and-a-half stretch runs perpendicular to the Rajpath (the rulers’ path). The market is famous for its Kashmiri Pashmina Shawls, Kurtis, Himalayan and Tibetan products, as well as the many ebullient hawkers who sell a bunch of baubles and gimmicks.
New Market, Kolkata
The New Market in Kolkata was constructed in 1874 simply because the British colonists refused to rub shoulders with the Indian populace at markets. The New Market has endured two major fires, regular flooding, and an exotic pet-trading business that was only uncovered and stopped in the mid-70s. It’s 2000 stalls sell everything from marble counters, saris, and crockery to Nahoum & Sons’ cakes that patrons have enjoyed for well over a century.
Jew Town, Cochin
India was home to many Jewish people who lived peacefully in the country for over two centuries. Post 1948, many chose to move to Israel, but the few who chose to stay in Cochin own a majority of the shops in this market called Jew Town. The last known surviving Jews in the area make a living by selling spices, perfumes, shawls, handcrafted products, jewelry, and other similar products from around the country.