Grab a bargain
The Golden Triangle’s Top Ten Markets
Not many people have the willpower to go to India and come home without a suitcase that’s bursting at the seams. And quite frankly, why would you want to resist? India is notoriously cheap and is known for producing beautiful, hand-crafted wares, best found in its labyrinth-like markets. From new food finds and spices that will literally “spice up your life”, to authentic clothing and your living room’s soon-to-be centerpiece rug, below is a list of the Golden Triangle’s go-to shop ‘til you drop districts.
Top tip: don’t push the weight restrictions to the limit on the way out there if you want any room in your case for your new treasures.
One of India’s largest, oldest, busiest and most famed markets, this is a real been there, done that kind of attraction. Situated in the heart of Old Delhi, 17th century born Chandni Chowk was the brainchild of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s daughter. Unlike today’s chaos, the bazaar designed by Jahanara was a graceful affair, laid out in orderly sections and flanked by pretty gardens and palatial buildings. Although it managed to retain its opulence for a number of years, the tumultuous changes of power during the 19th and 20th centuries put an end to the areas elegance. Now, the once grand Chandni Chowk is a jumble of vendors and cacophony of haggling, framed by crumbling buildings, but that’s not to say that it’s lost all of its charm. In fact, it’s the market’s bewildering state that make it such a special sight. Selling everything from perfumes and saris, to jalebis and samosas, this market is sure to be an assault on pretty much all of the senses.
Designed to mimic the style of a traditional rural market, Delhi’s vast Dilli Haat has been going strong since its opening in 1994. Here trinkets meet artisan products to form quite the charming city market. You’ll have to pay a small fee of about Rs.15 to enter, but it’s well worth the while just to soak up the atmosphere – there’s often music playing and you may even pick up a souvenir or two, too.
Say hello to the very definition of a frenetic flea market – looking to kit yourself out in the latest garms for a quarter of the price? Well you’re in the right place. At Sarojini Nagar, Delhi’s biggest wholesale clothes market, you’ll find a mixture of legitimate highstreet goods and designer fakes at throwaway prices. But seriously, from Mango to Forever 21, it’s all here, you just might have to search for it. Before you think that it’s all too good to be true, there is a catch. The items have found their way here due to a fault in production, so before you buy anything, make sure to check for defaults first. Oh, and as always, remember to whip out your best haggling skills because Sarojini is all about the bargains.
Aptly ranslating to ‘people’s path’, much like everywhere in Delhi, Janpath Market gets busy. This open-air market sells everything from traditional shawls to reasonable bangles and is particularly famous for its handcrafted Tibetan products, making a stop here worth it if you’re looking to grab some authentic keepsakes.
It may not be your go-to if you’re looking to bag a bargain, but Khan market has got class – even if you’re not able to splash the cash, it’s worth the visit just to be nosey. Expect upscale boutiques, quaint bookstores, posh tailors, branded showrooms and a whole manner of bijou eateries. This is where expats, locals and tourists alike can find premium Indian and international brands. Plus, it’s open until midnight, so you can take your time exploring this horseshoe shaped, double story complex.
Famed for its vast collection of jewellery – from semi-precious gems to traditional bangles – Johari Bazaar is a definite highlight when visiting the ‘pink city’. Food stalls dot its outskirts, so refreshment is never far away and it’s ideally located near the Hawa Mahal, so won’t take you off the beaten track either.
Encompassing the very essence of Rajasthan, Bapu Bazaar is a vibrant market located in the heart of the city. If grabbing yourself your very own pair of mojaris, then look no further, because there are hundreds of variations of these traditional embroidered shoes on offer at this classic market.
Situated close to the city palace and Chhoti Chaupar, Tripolia Bazaar is the perfect spot for watching artisans at work. It may be known for its iron, stainless steel and brass utensils, but you’ll also find irresistable furnishings, handmade rugs, a plethora of antiques and popular lac bangles on sale here.
Jaipur Wholesale Flower Market
A shock of colour. A burst of blooms. Known as a Phool Mandis, India’s flower markets are a thing of staggering beauty. Everyday, in every city, the wholesale flower markets open their doors to traders as early as 4am. Fragrant marigolds, roses and chrysanthemums make up the bulk of the scene – all picked from their stems and organised into crates, buckets, or simply just strewn on the floor, ready to be used as an offering at a temple, or strung into a garland for a celebration. Presenting themselves as vivid bulks of orange and pinks, these petals have the power to wow, that’s for sure. And although these particular market buys won’t last the journey home, the technicolour glory of it all will forever stick in your memory. Once you’ve had your fill of flowers, head to the the nearby vegetable market for some top-notch people watching – here, you’ll witness band upon band of local women, arriving in their droves to haggle down the price of the key ingredients of that evening’s meal.
Known for its shoes and leather work, this popular local market makes for an interesting little stop when in the city. Ok, so the quality may not be the best that you’ll ever come across, but if you’re looking for cheap shoes, it’s one that should be on your list.
Rawatpara Spice Market
There’s no better way to learn about all the ingredients that go into making India’s flavoursome food than with a visit to a spice market and Rawatpara is one of the oldest of its kind in the whole country. Did someone say bucket-list?