Situated in the heart of Imphal, the Ima Keithel, popularly known as the ‘Mother’s Market’ is Asia’s and perhaps the world’s only market managed and run entirely by women. Every day, as many as 5,000 women traders sit in a row and sell a variety of goods, ranging from groceries, local produce and authentic food items to clothes, handicrafts, bamboo products, utensils and everything in between. Only married women are allowed to run the stalls in this Market of Matriachs, and this tradition is passed on from one generation to another. The origins of the market date back to the 16th-century, and it has been going strong since then. Even if you do not want to buy anything, just experiencing the beautiful sights and sounds of this market can be equally remarkable.
Monday to Sunday: 3:00 am-7:00 pm
Jaipur’s historic marketplace, the Johari Bazaar is a must-visit in any Jaipur travel guide. This market is famed for its vast collection of jewellery of all types – precious and semi-precious jewels, gemstones and traditional jewellery, like Thewa, Kundan, Polki and Meenakari. Alongside exquisite jewellery, there is an array of textile shops that sell ethnic Rajasthani wears. Located near Hawa Mahal, the area surrounding this bazaar is one of the most stunning and historic in the Jaipur. There are a few food stalls and restaurants near the bazaar that make for useful pit-stops when you need to restore your energy before getting back to shopping. And don’t go without tasting the famous LMB’s (Laxmi Misthan Bhandar) delicious lassi (yogurt-based drink) at the market.
Monday to Sunday: 10:00 am-11:00 pm
Literally translating to the ‘Market of Thieves’, the Chor Bazaar is one of the largest and popular flea markets in the country. The market got its name due to mispronunciation of ‘Shor Bazaar’ (this was the original name of the market) as ‘Chor Bazaar’ by British colonists. This market is crammed with stalls that sell second-hand goods, handicrafts, antique and vintage items. Spend a day here rifling through some quality wares to grab some real bargains. Old handicrafts, bronze statues of god and goddesses, vintage gramophones, bronze bells, Bollywood posters, colonial-era lamps, antique Smiths clocks, vintage cameras, power tools, authentic Victorian furniture, and trinkets of all types, are just a few of the treasures to be discovered here.
Pro tip: Never agree to the first two price points the seller offers; bargaining is part and parcel of this market!
Monday to Sunday (except Friday): 11:00 am- 7:30 pm
Known as the ‘Perfume Capital of India’, Kannauj is an ancient city set on the banks of River Ganges. The Kannauj market is located in the Kannauj district, and is said to be one of the oldest markets that deals in everything scented, from essential oils to traditional Indian attars (perfumes). This spot has wonderfully-fragrant options for all. There are over 650 scents on offer, prepared using ancient techniques, i.e. fragrance of wet earth is distilled into small glass vials.
Mahidharpura Diamond Market is one of the oldest and most famous diamond markets in the city, where both locals and travelers come to haggle over precious stones. Known as the ‘Antwerp of the East’, this market is a concentration of a plethora of shops selling, polishing and examining the diamonds. And, as you enter the market, the first sight you’ll encounter is of a group of people standing on the road with diamonds in their hands as if they are holding common stones. The sellers are all experts in the diamonds, so negotiations can sometimes be a bit tricky. Timings vary from shop to shop, usually opens at 10:00 am.
Just north of Crawford Market lies the historic Zaveri Bazaar that sells all things bling. It is one of the oldest gold markets in the country with more than 7,000 shops, some dating back 200 years. Some well-known jewellery giants are housed here, including UTZ, Dwarkadas Chandumal, Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri and Dhirajlal Bhimji Zaveri. Jewels and gems of all kinds are on offer. The uniqueness of this bazaar is that it has maintained its old-world charm with most of the stores having antique furniture and a rustic vibe.
Monday to Saturday (Sunday closed): 10:00 am-7:30 pm
Located on the Lindsay Street, the New Market is a sprawling market that has been in existence since the British Raj. It was founded in 1874 and since then it has retained its charm. Over 2,000 stalls and stores line the streets, selling everything from clothing and accessories to electronics, food items, spices, exotic flowers, utensils, brassware, leather bags, poultry, and much more. It’s actually a treasure chest of items; rifle through to get some real gems. Do not settle for a price for anything, haggling is vital while shopping in New Market. If you need a pit-stop, you’ll find confectioners and food stores to replenish your energy.
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm; Sundays closed
The Chandni Chowk is one of the busiest and oldest markets in India that dates back to the 17th-century. The cacophony of bargaining awaits you inside, along with the endless shops and stalls of food, jewellery, electronics, spices, art and antiques, souvenirs and knick-knacks– there is no end of browsing in this traditional Indian market. Whether you’re looking for a bargain or not, come here to soak up its fun and lively atmosphere and sounds of cheerful banter from amiable traders.
A not-to-be-missed spot here is the Khari Baoli, which is the largest wholesale spice market in Asia. Built in 1650, this market beams with vibrant colours and aromas of local spices, herbs and dry fruits.
Monday to Saturday: 9:30 am-8:00 pm
Goa is famous for its beaches, nightlife and flea markets. This Party Capital of India is home to numerous flea markets that date back to the 1980s. You’ll find both locals and foreigners selling clothes, accessories, handicrafts, souvenirs, spices, books and pottery at dirt cheap prices. Anjuna Flea Market held on Wednesday, Mapusa Friday Bazaar and Saturday Night Bazaar in Arpora are some of the oldest and most popular markets worth visiting.
Anjuna flea market, 10, St. Michael’s Vaddo, South Anjuna, Monteiro Vaddo, Anjuna, Goa, India, +91 98901 70260 – 9:00am – 7:00pm, (Wednesday; November-April)
Mapusa Bazaar, Mapusa Market Area, Panjim, Goa, India – 8:00am- 7:30pm (Friday)
Arpora Saturday Night Market, Aguada – Siolim Rd, Xim Waddo, Arpora, Goa, India, +91 99221 00009 – 6pm until late in the evening (Saturday; November to April)