The Markets of India

Exquisite Fabrics at a Market in India

Visiting the markets is one of my favourite things to do when travelling. Not that I’m an avid shopper who spends her weekends at the mall, but set me loose in a market and every first edition book and antique camera cries out to me. India only intensified my market hunting instincts. The bright colours, woven arabasques, beads and ornamental mirrors, the smell of incense. Rupees were flying out of my hand, and by the end of my trip I was having to choose between a night out at Tito’s bar or yet another pair of harem pants. How is a girl to choose? …Well, Tito’s won out because I already looked like a character from Aladdin. So let me guide you through some of the places where I enjoyed shopping:

MG Road, Pune, India

MG Road, Pune

MG Road is a shopper’s paradise! Never have I seen so many billboards and stores tightly packed together in one area. Not only is this the commercial hub of the city, but it is also where I encountered my first cow walking down the sidewalk straight towards me! Now that earns a special spot.

High end shops like The Bombay Store had the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary Indian decor; but their style came at a price, so I walked away with chai loose leaf instead. I also drooled over bangles, kurtas and nose chains down little alleys before purchasing a navy and gold silk shirt.

Bangles Galore at a jewelry shop in India

In Pune I learned that, sadly, my feet are too big by Indian standards. Sigh. I came across a stall displaying the most beautiful pointed slippers, but even after attempting to squeeze my toes in – all in the name of beauty – my heel still hung off the back.Β It was the perfect picture of grace and elegance…

I spent another day trying to find shoes for a wedding in a different part of town without much success. The shopkeeper brought me the largest size he had and then laughed at me. (I assure you I have normal feet!) I ended up wearing my black dress with brown sandals and wrapped a brown belt around my waist hoping that would make it better. I like to think it sort of did…

Crawford Market, Mumbai

Crawford Market, Mumbai

Getting to Crawford Market was not as straight forward as I anticipated. I jumped into the first cab that pulled over and told the driver my destination, but he ended up taking me on a little detour to his friend’s store instead. Luxurious sarees were not what I was after. But because I always carry a map, after wandering a few streets over I found myself in the heart of it all.

Vendors were selling an eclectic mix of socks and underwear, electronics, more kurtas, jewellry, roasted nuts, plastic containers, and whatever random objects you can envision. I can’t say I found anything useful, but the energy and the architecture of this place is something you should experience for yourself.

Markets in Goa

Street Vendors, Goa

I couldn’t pick just one market in Goa because there are simply far too many to choose from. Shopping in Goa was like Schwarz at Christmas time, where every object is more exciting than the first. The famous harem pants, elephant tapestries with gold thread, hand stitched bags with little mirrors to catch the light, wooden earrings and rainbow beads, floor cushions, pashminas and little sculptures of deities. Out of all the three cities I visited, Goa was my favourite place to shop, and I wouldn’t hesitate going back.

What are some of your favourite markets?

31 Comments

  • Heather says:

    I also enjoy markets and love the colors in these photos! Will be one of my favorite things to do when I visit πŸ™‚

    I really liked La Boqueria in Barcelona; Adelaide Central Market in Adelaide, Australia; and several markets in Sydney!

    Bummer about the shoes and slippers!

    • thatbackpacker says:

      You know, I completely missed the market in Barcelona! I was so fixated on Gaudi, tapas and the beach that it sort of slipped under my radar!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh, the problems with having western girl feet when shopping in Asia! I had a shopkeeper in Japan actually chase me out of her store yelling “no shoes in your size! too big! too big!” before I even had time to ask.

    • thatbackpacker says:

      Haha, I can’t believe he chased you out! They’d have so much business if their sizes were just a little bit larger!!

  • Emily S. says:

    I want to go to India JUST to visit the markets…. everything looks so vibrant, colorful, and lively!

  • Sosha says:

    OMG! You didn’t go to Colaba Causeway in Mumbai?? It’s ten minutes away from Crawford Street. It’s the best in Bombay (Mumbai).

    • thatbackpacker says:

      NOOOO! I think I missed it, and now I’m googling images of it and it looks ah-mazing!!! I did go to Fashion Street but there wasn’t a lot there. This simply gives me another reason to go back πŸ˜€

      • Sosha says:

        Awww… Fashion Street is boring. Causeway is chiefly gorgeous jewellery, knickknacks, shoes and a bit of clothes. It’s my absolute favourite!

        Where are you now? Still in India?

  • kknott says:

    Markets are definitely one of my favorite things…they are such interesting places! I love El Rastro in Madrid, and the markets I visited in Morocco were also pretty amazing. Clearly, I need to make a trip to India though…

  • Zhu says:

    I love markets!

    My favourite ones are in China I think: Mongkok in HK, Qianmen or Fuchengmen in Beijing (and NOT the Silk Market!). I like markets in Latin America too, I have a great memory of Chichicastenango in Guatemala with all the colourful blankets.

  • Greg Goodman (@GregGoodman) says:

    Great photos and story overall, but my absolute favorite is the insane wall of billboards on MG road in Pune. And I always find it funny how every Indian city has an MG road. Good ole Mahatma!

  • Sam says:

    I’m not much of a shopper but I do enjoy the activity of a market, especially one selling all kinds of weird and wonderful things.

  • Fidel says:

    I gotta compliment you on your scarf. Very chic miss! Looking good!

    I haven’t been to India, but there are sizable populations of Indian people in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I love going to their neighborhoods and walking in and around the silk markets. The dresses especially are vibrant and exquisite.

    Have you purchased a dress? I think you should buy a chain nose ring πŸ™‚

    My favorite market would be any of the dedicated shopping streets in Hong Kong.

  • thetravelchica says:

    So much color!

  • Nomadic Samuel says:

    When I was in India I never did make it to Mumbai. I’d love to experience the markets there.

  • @Psyridah says:

    Markets like Chudi bazar, Shilpa ramam, Sultan bazar of Hyderabad, Palika bazar n Monastry, Pahar gunj market of Delhi, India have to be checked out also…

  • tawnymclark says:

    Great pictures! India is number one on my list right now. We’re hoping to make it there sometime in the next few months. I’m also a huge fan of markets. Can’t wait to see it all in person! πŸ™‚

    • thatbackpacker says:

      It really is an amazing country! I spent 2 weeks there and barely made a dent on the place. There is so much to explore! You will definitely enjoy the markets πŸ˜€

  • trvl8dintern says:

    I love your pictures! India is my top travel destination on my wish list.. but i’m kinda on a tight budget. How expensive is moving around the country by train? I can’t wait to goooo πŸ™‚

    • thatbackpacker says:

      I only travelled by train locally, so I’m not sure how much it would be to move around India by train. I imagine it can’t be very much. I flew from Goa to Mumbai with Kingfisher and that came to $60 USD. Hope you can make it there soon! πŸ˜€

  • Arti says:

    Some great pics! MG road in Pune and Crawford market in Mumbai are great!!
    Have you been to Jaipur, Bapu Bazaar?
    Namaste from India:)

  • Stephen says:

    I agree. Markets are a great place to visit, even if you don’t plan on buying anything.

  • Gaby says:

    Such wonderful pictures! These are some beautiful markets.

  • Lucy | gapyeardotcom says:

    Some great pictures. It is so easy to fall in love with the markets in India, the colours, smells and noises are amazing.

    I agree with Arti, Jaipur is a must see – it is now 2013, have you been yet? πŸ™‚

  • Ridhima Arora says:

    On your next visit to India do visit Delhi and try to explore the markets. You will have a great experience.

  • Pooja says:

    Thanks for sharing I adore your pictures! India is top travel destination on my list. Plz add more market places

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