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5 of the best markets in India

02 April 2015

Markets and bazaars have long been a traditional part of life in India, and shopping here is an experience for the eyes, the ears and the taste buds.

An assortment of local gifts from markets in India
An assortment of local gifts from markets in India

One of the best ways to spend a day in this country is by perusing these fascinating places where local traders sell their wares. Watch traditional life blend with contemporary India, and treat yourself to something beautiful to bring home. 

From watches to shirts, shoes, saris and local crafts, you can buy pretty much anything in India. Here are our top places around the country to spend your holiday cash.

Chandni Chowk – Delhi

In the old part of India’s capital city, you will find one of the most famous shopping strips in the country. Chandni Chowk brings the calamity and colour of India together in an explosion of goods. 

Find street vendors selling fresh bread, pani puri, and custard-like sweets. Walk past horse-drawn carts, chai wallahs selling delicious sweet tea, heritage buildings and tiny hole-in-the-wall stalls.

There are streets dedicated entirely to the sale of wedding invitations and stationery. Others house only the polished diamonds and precious stones the north of India is famous for. If you love to shop, Chandni Chowk has everything to offer. 

Once you have finished emptying your purse and filling your belly with mouth-watering chaat, head to the Jama Masjid, the city’s most famous and beautiful mosque.

Related: Five historical sites to see in Dehli. 

New Market – Kolkata

East of the country, in the intellectual and cultural heart of India, stands Kolkata’s New Market. Despite the increasing population of American-style malls, the New Market still typifies shopping in the city. 

Here you will find huge aisles of food, fresh fruits, barrels of spices and lots of confectionery. The colourful saris are rivalled by the large section allotted to florists, selling every kind of flower you could imagine.

Anjuna Flea Market – Goa

Slightly different to the other markets on this list because of its huge expat influences, the Anjuna Flea Market has its fair share of cheesy tourist wares, but if you take your time to walk through this beachside haven you can buy handmade lanterns, leather-bound notebooks, cotton shirts, lovely boutique-style jewellery and accessories.Nagar – Chennai

There are few places in the world as colourful as India and half that colour comes from the vibrant saris the women and little girls wear. Saris are the traditional dress in India and they are worn several different ways. 

In the north see-through netting, beading, jewels and rhinestones are all used to adorn a sari; sparkle and glitz define fashion in the Capital of Bollywood. In the south, rich silk fabrics and colourful borders are coveted and the saris tend to be more traditional and less immediately showy. 

T. Nagar is the centre of all things sari in the capital of Tamil Nadu and if you’re after a really beautiful length of fabric, this is where you will find it.

Related: Things to see and do in Goa. 

Chor Bazaar – Mumbai

If you’ve dreamed of bringing back interesting bric-a-brac from this country, or are more interested in antique shopping for your collection, then Chor Bazaar is where you need to go. 

This is a real adventure and shoppers need to rummage to find what they want. It is densely packed and you can discover everything from reproduction British steamer-trunks and posters of old Bollywood movies to lunchboxes and rotary telephones.

Every state in India has its treasures, making shopping in this country an experience not to be missed. Be sure to bargain at the markets, because the vendors will price goods as high as they can. Participating can be a great deal of fun and after all, who doesn’t love a bargain?

If you’re thinking of going to India and would like a helping hand on where would be best to go, Saga offers many different trips and tours. Why not look at our selections?

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.