Indian markets are the best guide to explore the rich culture of the country. The street vendors, overcrowded shopping alleys, delicious street food that can overpower our senses, and the chaos define a typical ‘bazaar’ in India.
There are many such bazaars that were built many years ago.
These are heritage places that are favorites of traditional shoppers even now.
Here is a list of India’s top 10 old markets:
1. Meena Bazar, Delhi
One of the oldest markets of the world, Meena bazaar has its roots in the Mughal Era. Emperor Shah Jahan got it built in the 17th century, India’s first covered market. Earlier, bazaars used to be organized in the open. It is also known as ‘Chhatta Chowk Bazaar’.
It is located on the Eastern end of Jama Masjid. Walking through the Lahori Gate one immediately enters this covered two storied arcade, with octagonal court in the middle for sunlight & natural ventilation, known as ‘Chhattar Manzil’ which divided the market into two sections, eastern and western, which have vaulted roofs supported on series of broad arches given at regular interval.
The bazaar was a luxurious market for the royals. Carpets, silks, embroidered clothes, velvets, rugs, precious stones, exquisite jewellery etc were sold. Today the shops in the Chowk sell souvenirs and eatables and drinks.
2. Chor Bazaar, Mumbai
As the name suggests, the market is famous for selling second hand goods. It is in South Mumbai near Bhendi Bazaar.
A legend about this market is that once the violin of Queen Victoria went missing which was later found in the Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market). This is how the market got its name.
The market is famous for selling old vintage articles, Victorian furniture, replacement parts for automobiles etc.
3. Johari Bazaar, Jaipur
Spread around the Hawa Mahal, it is the largest jewellery market in Jaipur. It is famous for traditional Rajasthan jewellery.
Exquisite jewellery made of gold, silver, emeralds, diamonds can be purchased. ‘Kundan jewellery which is created in a unique manner is also very popular. In ancient times, women of the royal families bought jewellery from this market.
4. Chandni Chowk, Delhi
The heritage market of Delhi, Chandni Chowk was built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan. It was designed by his favorite daughter, Princess Jahanara. Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city, from the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid.
It is the most overcrowded market, with shops selling everything: authentic food delicacies, fabrics, footwear, paper, brass, copper, jewellery, kitchen equipments, home furnishing.
Nai Sarak, Chawri Bazaar, Lal Kuan, Dariba are the famous lanes of the market with specific articles sold.
5. Mahidharpura Diamond Market, Surat
Surat is famous for its diamond polishing and cutting industry. In this market, one can find millions of diamonds traded on the street. The diamond jewelry industry in Surat import rough uncut diamonds and give them its dazzling brilliance for which diamonds are adored all around the world.
Considering the trade of diamonds in the area, the sight looks no less than a grocery market.
6. Attar bazaar of Kannauj
Kannauj is famous as ‘Perfume city’ for it’s the largest perfumery of the country. It is known for producing ‘attar’ a fragrant essential oil (often extracted from roses) and sandalwood oil. These aromatic oils have great healing powers.
One can spot old perfume houses at every corner. These perfumes are made from traditional techniques.
7. Sardar Market, Jodhpur
Next to the Nai Sadak, is the Sardar Market famous for everything traditional Rajasthani want in their homes: Bandhej sarees, mojris, handicrafts, textiles. The market is full of locals and Bishnoi villagers hunting for bargains.
8. Janpath market, Delhi
One of the old markets, it houses boutique stores that sell traditional handicrafts and handlooms that can never be found in a mall.
Some of the stores date back to the 1950s. It is very popular among foreigners. Janpath is a road which mainly connects the Connaught Place to India Gate.
Now the market is popular for budget shopping with stalls of clothes, junk jewellery and cotton garments doing good business.
9. Khan Market, Delhi
The costliest market of the world, it was established in 1951. Many of the stores here were allotted as seed land to immigrants from the North-West Frontier Province after the partition of India.
The market is named after the freedom fighter Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. The market boasts of various super expensive restaurants and cafes like the Big Chill café, Market Cafe, Cafe Turtle, Albake etc.
10. Aminabad, Lucknow
Established since the time of Nawabs of Awadh, the market boasts of ‘chikan’ embroidered garments. It is in the old part of Lucknow.
The ‘chikankari’, white embroidery of Lucknow no garments are very popular. Some of the oldest shops are Garha bhandar, Om Prakash Seth, Madan Sarees, Dupatta Mahal, Sargodha Cloth House, Thok Bazaar.