India’s Oldest Traditional Markets to Explore

Markets in India are yet to amass the recognition that its architecture, museums and monuments have

India’s traditional markets are renowned for providing an immersive shopping experience by bringing an old-world charm to trippy shoppers. Check out these five ancient hubs before you plan the next trip.

Johari Bazaar, Jaipur: “Johari” translates to “jewellers’ market” and flourishes in abundant colourful gems and trinkets unique to Jaipur. Once you enter the colonnade nestled between sprawling houses, you are immediately absorbed into the market’s burnt pink, terracotta and orange hues. Besides jewelleries, the bazaar houses textiles stitched in Rajasthani style and city’s finest architectural wonders. Even if you are not a shopaholic, the market is a must-visit for experiencing the artisanal grandeur and quintessential vibes of this UNESCO world heritage site.

Kannauj Market, Uttar Pradesh: India’s “Perfume Capital,” the ancient Kannauj in northwast India’s Ganges belt is a beautiful ensemble of enthralling androgynous attars. From Kannauj’s factories that still rely on centuries-old perfume-making practices, the city still churns out mitti attar or petrichor. Kannauj’s perfumes were once worn by Mughal royalties and later the British colonisers. Legend has it that emperor Jahanghir and Noor Jahan were the first royal patrons of scented bottles.

Crawford Market, Mumbai: Today known as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai was set-up in 1869 to honour Arthur Crawford, Mumbai’s first municipal commissioner. The entire area is teeming with make-up, imported dry foods, souvenirs, perfumes, jewellery, snack vendors, household knick-knacks and a cute herd of baby pets. Mumbai’s eminent eateries source their ingredients from Crawford’s wholesale outlets. Crawford is perhaps the last surviving testimony of colonial Bombay nestled inside a Norman Gothic façade.

Ima Keithel, Imphal: Ima bazaar, at the heart of Imphal, is run by women since its establishment in the 16th century. The 500-year-old market has been turned into a trading hub of Manipur by its 5000 women traders wrapped in sarongs and innaphis or shawls. Travellers are greeted by a fresh and colourful array of local produce like bamboo products, groceries, utensils, textiles and handicrafts.

Meena Bazaar Delhi: A stone’s throw from Jama Masjid and Red Fort, Meena Bazaar is 300 years old and was built by the Mughals. During the Mughals’ reign in Delhi, the local bazaar supplied goods to the royal courts. Meena Bazaar still basks in royal opulence with its ensemble of jewelleries, sarees and lehenga. If you have a wedding or special occasion come on, there is no place better than Meena Bazaar. From the market, you can visit a few beautiful historical landmarks like Delhi Gate, Archaeological Museum and Naqqar Khana.

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