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ht city delhi most stylish Markets embody living traditions—they are windows to local culture and markers of a point or two in history, but they are also constantly evolving.

Old markets are often built around landmarks—think Chandni Chowk near Red Fort in Delhi—or come up around centres of religious significance, like the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai. They narrate stories—Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar brings up visions of all the gorgeous furniture that was sold and bought there in the flux of Partition. They gain reputations—for offering great street food, or the best pavement shopping experience, or for being the coolest night bazaar. The best ones sit simultaneously on the must-visit lists of tourists and service the local householder.

By default, markets are also forward-looking. They are the earliest adopters of new trends: People go to an Irla Market in Mumbai or a Karol Bagh in New Delhi to discover new things and seek out the best bargains.

We scoured the streets of Srinagar, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Imphal, Kohima, Darjeeling, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi, as well as Goa, for the most complete shopping experience—the markets with the greatest vibe, the best buys, the yummiest food and the quirkiest stores.

1. Wednesday Flea Market, Goa

When people refer to a Goan flea market, they hark back to this market—the original one started by hippies in the 1960s. Built with shanty scaffolding in Anjuna, this seasonal market still functions in much the same way today. There’s junk jewellery, bohemian clothes, spices, trance music, tobacco and odd bits and bobs.

2. Arpora Saturday Night Market, Goa

More a tourist destination than a market for locals, this is a hub for food, drink, dance and music. Built around a central stage, the night market comes alive on Saturdays during the season from December-May. It’s a great place to grab a drink, sample an assortment of food, catch live music performances—all in the bustling atmosphere of a flea market that throbs with life way into the early hours of Sunday.

3. Panjim Market, Goa

One of the best organized and maintained markets in Goa, it presents a cheerful interior; its walls are painted with iconic Mario Miranda-style caricatures. With distinct sections for meat and fish, household items, fruits, vegetables and spices, it is a great place to shop for things when you know exactly what you want. Frequented by locals, it is also a site for tourists to buy cashew nuts, port wine (outside the main market area) and other souvenirs.

4. Chowk Market, Lucknow

The vibe: The market begins at the majestic Rumi Darwaza, built in 1784. Almost as soon as you enter, the old-world charm of Umrao Jaan and Pakeezah surrounds you.

Shop: This is primarily a wholesale market. Small shops sell Chikankari on fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon and organza, as well as handbags, curtains and bedsheets. The Lucknow Chikan Emporium at Akbari Gate and Pragati Chikan Kendra are old favourites.

Eat/drink: Tunday Kababi, of course. The century-old shop makes its galauti kebabs with 160 spices. A meal of these kebabs with sheermal—saffron-flavoured, slightly sweet, traditional flat bread—costs Rs.135. Other not-to-be-missed places are Idriss ki Biryani aka Idrish Hotel, for biryani, and Mubeen’s, for nihari kulcha.

Curiosity shop: Chowk Market is famous for its thandai, with or without a hint of the “green leaves of happiness” (bhang). Pandit Raja Thandai can put you over the moon for Rs.35-50. You can still find old-style kites (made with two tukkals or paper kites; Rs.4-60), and intricate silverwork paan-daans and hand-fans here.

Originals: “Addas” in Chowk are the original hub of “Lucknavi Chikankari”. The fabric is laid out on a cot and a group of workers sits around it doing the hand-embroidery. Products which are sold at haute couture stores globally can be bought at these “addas” for less than one-fourth the price.

5. Law Garden market, Ahmedabad

The vibe: Kutchi and Gujarati culture come alive on this street packed with ethnic garments, costume jewellery, embroidered jholas (bags) and assorted handicrafts. Some shops open in the day but it is primarily an evening destination, a time when it’s a little cooler. Many shops are open as late as 10pm.

Shop: For hand-embroidered ghagras from Kutch, dainty backless cholis, Bandhani outfits and odhnis and Ajrakh prints. Ethnic potlis and jholas, embroidered and decorated with buttons, beads, sequins, and appliqué, can be found in abundance here, as can indigenous leather products like stylish thread-worked chappals (slippers). Ask for old pieces but don’t fall for the “antique” line—it is never so easy to find an authentic antique. Bargain hard.

Eat/drink: There is Gujarati street food everywhere: ice chuskis, gathiya-fafda and dabeli. But don’t pass over a visit to Swati Snacks at the end of the lane. Absolutely unmissable there: satpadi roti with gatta nu shak (masala roti with besan curry), handvo (a kind of stuffed potato cake) and panki chatni (rice pancakes served in banana leaf).

Originals: If you have been looking for the ultimate black mirrorwork ghagra with multihued embroidery, this is your stop. You will find some stunning pieces in a couple of otherwise nondescript stores. Wear the ghagra innovatively with formal separates and a pair of sleek sneakers for cocktail evenings and turn it into a piece of couture.

6. Ima Keithel, Imphal

Nothing quite prepares one for Ima Keithel, or Mother’s Market—the sprawling bazaar run exclusively by Manipuri women and located in the centre of the state capital. A host of small stalls, managed by young and elderly Meitei women wearing mekhela, phanek and innaphi in pastel colours, sell everything from farm produce, fish, meat, agricultural tools, utensils and mud pots to handloom, handicrafts, dress material and ready-to-eat food, even mosquito nets.

While Ima Keithel lost some of its earlier bazaar magic following a relocation (to massive, white-painted buildings nearby), it still dominates the shopping experience in Imphal. Which is just as well, since Ima Keithel has been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s socio-economic empowerment in Manipur.

Earlier generations of women at this market are said to have led the 1939 Nupi Lan, or Women’s War, against the British. In 2004, they spearheaded the nude protest demonstration against paramilitary forces following the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama Devi, whose body was found a day after she was picked up from her house.

7. Hatibagan Market, Kolkata

The vibe: The hawkers rule the footpaths. The actual shops, often hidden from view, stock cotton saris, dress material, jewellery and home furnishings. In between these are cinema halls like Mitra and Darpana, which screen Bengali films.

Shop: For great bargains and sari designs, head to Padma Stores, Pubali Stores and Radha Gobinda Bastralaya.

Eat/drink: Try Fish Kabiraji and Chicken Afghani at Naba Malancha or a Bengali meal at the Bhojohori Manna restaurant attached to the historic Star Theatre complex. Koshe Kosha and Gol Bari at the Shyambazar five-point crossing are other options.

Curiosity shop: A couple of shops at the northern end of Bidhan Sarani stock spectacles that are a throwback to the early 1900s.

Originals: Shifted out of Hatibagan, the Sunday morning market for pets is now held at Galiff Street near Shyambazar. There is no shortage of colour here.

8. New Market, Kolkata

The vibe: The market was inaugurated in 1874 as an exclusive shopping plaza for the city’s British and European residents. Combining an Eastern bazaar vibe with the Western shopping mall format, it has an eye-catching Gothic structure. It has survived major fires—the latest one was in May.

Shop: Bombay Silk Store and Dayaram & Co. are the shops where people head for Indian finery. Symphony stocks a good collection of CDs and DVDs, along with electronic appliances, while florist A Bose Pvt. Ltd maintains a tradition of flower design and presentation from the British era.

Eat/drink: Visit the century-old patisserie Nahoum & Sons. Pick from their almond plum cake, walnut cake, baklava, lemon tart, and puff pastry or pantheras—a direct descendant from the Anglo-Indian kitchen.

Curiosity shop: Chamba Lama is the go-to shop for curios, jewellery and thangka paintings.

Originals: Blue & Beyond, the terrace restobar attached to Hotel Lindsay, bang opposite New Market, offers a great view of the shopping complex as well as the city—the vista extends to Howrah Bridge in the west and Vidyasagar Setu, beyond Kolkata Maidan, in the south.

9. College Street, Kolkata

The vibe: Hundreds of new and second-hand book stalls line the pavement. The nearly 100-year-old market might well be home to the largest concentration of publishers in the country. Universities and colleges flank the street.

Shop: Walk into the historic Albert Hall building plastered with posters propagating radical communism, alternative theatre and poetry-reading sessions. The building houses the 1886-established book store Dasgupta & Co.—a large shop that has some rare titles, the Chuckerverty and Chatterjee shop, set up in 1910, and the newer National Book Store.

Eat/drink: Have a cup of Infusion (black coffee, Rs.12) and chicken cutlet at the Indian Coffee House, located in the Albert Hall building. The service might be slow, but then customers aren’t in a rush either. The Coffee House is the inner sanctum for addas (free-wheeling, endless discussions): Spend hours here with a two-figure bill to pay at the end.

Curiosity shop: Across College Street is the 97-year-old, sherbet-only institution, Paramount. As you sip one of 15-odd sherbets listed, browse through the list of names of Paramount patrons framed on the wall: Subhas Chandra Bose, Arundhati Roy, Satyajit Ray and Suchitra Sen, among others.

Originals: Sift through Indian and international magazines at pavement stalls on the road running between the University of Calcutta and the Medical College and Hospital.

10. Maniktala Fish Market, Kolkata

The vibe: This market at the Maniktala crossing exemplifies the Bengali love for fish. Everything else available here is overshadowed by the sight, sound and smell of fish-mongering. The catch can go up to 30-40 different varieties, the size of fish varying from the tiny morola to the 5kg katla. Situated in north Kolkata, the market is the prime supplier of fish during the wedding season and drives the price of fish in the city.

Shop: There is little to choose from among the shops here. While some stalls have their loyalists, the buyer traffic varies according to the quality and size of the day’s catch with individual fish-sellers.

Eat/drink: Dig into hot kachoris and radhaballabhi or sample the fusion roll shingara and kesaria imarati at Gupta’s Sweets and Snacks. Top off the visit with choice Bengali sweets at Ganguram & Sons.

Curiosity shop: An unnamed shop in the Maniktala Market stocks mountains of ice, which is sold to fish merchants to help keep the catch fresh. In the humid summer season, gritty buyers can be found cooling off here.

Originals: The clock tower in the Maniktala Market area is in a state of neglect but manages to keep time. It once bore a sponsor’s logo; today the paint has peeled off. It’s vintage enough to make it to the Kolkata municipal corporation’s list of heritage structures as a landmark. A short walk away is the ancestral home of social reformer Swami Vivekananda.

11. Parry’s, Chennai

The vibe: The best deals in town—on anything—are to be found here. Parry’s, the area around Chennai Fort railway station, is a 20-minute train ride from the southern end of the city. Godown Street (for clothes), Anderson Street (for wedding cards and stationery) and Badrian Street (for flowers, fruits and puja material) are some of the lanes that make up this “shopping epicentre”.

Shop: The Bombay Jewel Case Manufacturing Co. will customize a jewellery box for you on request.

Eat/drink: Huseni Sweet Mart on Sembudoss Street offers sweets such as milk-based fig and walnut pedas made by the Bohra Muslim community.

Curiosity shop: A Dhandapani & Co. on Devaraja Mudali Street sells wigs made of hair sourced from temples, where people get their heads shaved, for the film industry, theatre groups, beauticians and cancer patients.

Originals: Established nearly 80 years ago, Gem and Co. stocks fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inks and refills. The pens are displayed on rosewood shelves. The store has its own brand of pens called Gama (Rs.40-450).

12. Pondy Bazaar, Chennai

The vibe: Pondy Bazaar in T Nagar crackles with the energy of shoppers trying to extract the best bargains from pavement shops selling household goods. Ranganathan Street, a major commercial street just a 5-minute ride away, is said to be one of the most crowded streets in the country.

Shop: Topaz Bangles stocks beautiful stone-studded bangles. Blouse pieces and sari falls in every conceivable colour may be found at Kairasi Silk.

Eat/drink: Try kuzhi paniyaram, a steamed dish made with rice and pulses; adai, a pancake made of lentils and rice; or vegetable omelette dosa, made of besan (chickpea flour), at Balaji Fast Foods, which is also known as Kannadasan Mess and is run by Tamil poet and lyricist “Kaviarasu” Kannadasan’s family.

Curiosity shop: Signs advertising “1-hour tailors” are common here, as are representatives of stores who stand outside distributing visiting cards and beckoning potential customers.

New economy: Rathna Stores is stacked with steel vessels. If you want a steel utensil for your kitchen—no matter how obscure—this is the place to go.

13. Mylapore, Chennai

The vibe: The area is, literally and figuratively, in the shadow of the stately Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple and the temple tank. Expect to find sandalwood statuettes, enormous idols, garlands and trinkets of all sorts here.

Shop: Sukra Jewellery is known for its stunning collection of silver temple jewellery. At NAC Silvermine, look out for the tall lamps with delicate figurines of peacocks and elephants at the base.

Eat/drink: Try the pongal, keerai vadai (vadas with bits of spinach) and filter coffee at the Mylai Sri Karpagambal Mess.

Curiosity shop: Shanthi Dance Needs makes costumes for Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Odissi dancers. The shop sells all the accessories a dancer may need, including “practice saris”, ghungroos, anklets and costume jewellery for performances.

Originals: Radha Silk Emporium, or Rasi Silks, started in 1900. It has its own brand of saris, which are produced on its looms in Kumbakonam. Prices start from Rs.6,000.

14. Chivda Galli at Lalbaug, Mumbai

A little lane off Ambedkar Road reinforces a universally accepted truth: Everything tastes better deep-fried. Dinshaw Petit Road, also known as Chivda Galli, offers a massive variety of mixtures and you can taste before you buy. Our favourites are the ones with cornflakes, potato sticks, and poha. Farther down are the spice-grinding shops with their mechanized metal cylinders crushing chillies, cumin, turmeric and more. A slew of shops on the corner of Ambedkar Road have the freshest stocks of these masalas.

15. Sewri market, Mumbai

This is the best time of year to eat seafood bought at Sewri Market. With the monsoon in full swing, and fresh fish hard to come by, it’s time to experiment with the dried kind. There are baskets of bangda, bombil, mandeli, halwa (black pomfret), shrimp, prawns—salted, sun-dried and bursting with umami. Give yourself 15 minutes to get used to the smell; it’s worth the wait. For first-timers, there are plenty of Koli, Goan, Mangalorean and Keralite recipes online.

16. Chor Bazaar, Mumbai

Every tourist guide in the world lists Chor Bazaar as a go-to Mumbai destination. It was kitsch utopia long before kitsch became a weapon of the hipster and the artsy. Located in Bhendi Bazaar, Chor Bazaar’s alleys still ooze the comfortable charm of the antiquated. And the signature shops continue to stock surprises: Taherally’s for antiques such as railway lights and English silver, Discovery for vintage wood furniture, FK Singaporewala for glass bottles and surgical instruments, and A-One Poster for Hindi film posters dating back to when heroines had impeccably styled front curls.

17. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai (Crawford Market), Mumbai

The vibe: Barcelona has La Boqueria, London’s got the Borough Market, Tokyo boasts of the Tsukiji fish market and Mumbai has Crawford Market. The city’s original supermarket has long aisles laden with intriguing items from around the world that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the city, making shopping for household necessities oddly appealing.

Shop: The immense space stocks imported and locally produced gourmet goodies, cleaning and party supplies and odd bits and bobs. It also houses vendors of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits (definitely go for the mangoes and strawberries, when they are in season; also try Trikaya Agriculture’s exotic produce); halal slaughterhouses; and, ironically enough, pet shops.

Eat/drink: Where there’s a food market, remember, there are free food samples. From dried fruits to namkeen of all sorts, from dragon fruit and rambutan to Brie and ricotta, ask nicely and eat to your heart’s content.

Curiosity shop: Arife La Moulde is the stuff of cupcake dreams with marshmallow clouds and rainbow-hued jelly moulds. The ultimate baking equipment store stocks cookie-cutters, cake stands, do-it-yourself sugar craft kits, rolling pins, whisks, sieves, mixing bowls, ramekins and enough sprinkles to sprinkle bomb a lifetime worth of your baked creations.

Originals: While the market itself has undergone several facelifts and cosmetic changes over the years, most shops have been around for donkey’s years. Some of our favourite old-timers include the Royal Dry Fruit for Irani mamra almonds, Brazil nuts, Chilean hazelnuts and dates from across West Asia; Dhoble & Co. for fresh apples, pears and other seasonal fruits; and India Cane House for handmade baskets and broomsticks.

18. King’s circle Market, Mumbai

The vibe: King’s Circle Market, named after a circular park, now called Maheshwari Udyan, is famous for the string of Udipi eateries—Ram Ashraya, Cafe Madras, Anand Bhavan, Mani’s Lunch Home, Amba Bhavan Coffee Club and Udipi Shri Krishna, among others—but it also has offerings for its more pernickety customers, including an Iyengar bakery and an old Irani café called Koolar and Co.

Shop: Chheda Stores sells the delicious Amba haldi pickle sourced from Pune—you would be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere in the city. For the famous Coimbatore butter, head to P Ramalingam, a store established in 1954.

Eat/drink: Everyone has a favourite restaurant in King’s Circle. Ours is Ram Ashraya, located as you turn the corner from Matunga station. Their rasam is pungent, their sambar not sweet, and their Mysore sada dosa melts in the mouth.

Curiosity shop: Chheda Stores has everything from ready-to-eat Mysore dosas and butter dosas in a box to pouches of Shree Jal, a coconut-flavoured powder which promises the “bestest” taste with zero preservatives and colour, only for Rs.10. Just dissolve in water and drink.

Originals: The Book House, located on Shankar Matham Road, one of the radials of the circle, has a hard-cover copy of Playboy Stories, a collection of short fiction by greats like Nadine Gordimer, Gabriel García Márquez and John Updike, and all the John Le Carré books you could ever want.

New economy: The part-residential, part-commercial locality has changed from the times when Matunga was called Tamil Colony. There are multiple communities that the market caters to, and you can find everything from Kutchi caterers to Jain bakeries now. Hawkers sell everything from banana paste (“for adults with digestion issues”) and extra virgin coconut oil to different types of pickles, pastes and morukkus, a south Indian snack.

19. Heera Panna, Mumbai

The vibe: Heera Panna, on Peddar Road, has changed dramatically in recent years and is now an indoor, air-conditioned market full of electronics and clothes shops.

Shop: There are electronics shops selling mobile phones, headphones, music systems and mobile-phone accessories. The rates are competitive but end up more expensive with the 2% fee levied on all credit or debit card purchases. Knock-offs of branded men’s shoes and clothes are available on the cheap.

Curiosity shop: The “export-surplus” clothes store Jack’s has pieces from brands such as Zara, Abercrombie & Fitch and Versace—a shirt here could cost anywhere between Rs.750-2,000.

Originals: This was probably Mumbai’s first grey market, with electronics reaching stores through unauthorized but not necessarily illegal distribution channels. There is a strong union which, among other things, makes it very hard to take pictures in the shopping centre.

New economy: Heera Panna now has a few stores of well-known brands. There is one outlet of ColorPlus, the Raymond group’s casual-wear line, and an official Samsung store, where phones cost more than at the unofficial retailers surrounding it.

20. Kalbadevi, Mumbai

The vibe: Originally outside the walls of the Fort and referred to as “native town” by the British, Kalbadevi offers adventures in time travel. There are traces of Corinthian-, vernacular-, Victorian- and haveli-style architecture; more temples than you may wish to visit in one go; and enough shops and food stalls to constitute a real-life scavenger hunt.

Shop: Stock up on masala chai and instant coffee at Hasmukh & Co. at Bhuleshwar, home-made pickle mixes and fresh theplas by the Matru Samaj Udyog Gruha at Hira Baug, and Bengali sweets at Desai Bhaishankar Gaurishankar. Buy utensils of all shapes and sizes at Panjrapole Road, and shop for doll-sized clothing for idols and temple equipment at Madhav Baug. Tiptop Point at CP Tank is a great place for brides-to-be to stock up on bangles, bindis and imitation jewellery.

Eat/drink: For a grab-and-go meal, visit the Khau Galli that comes up at the corner of Kalbadevi Road and Dadyseth Agiary lane every evening for dabeli, khichiya and that so-bad-it’s-so-good Chinese dosa.

Curiosity shop: The Indian Art Studio is one of the oldest photo studios in the city. Located on the corner of Princess Street and Kalbadevi Road, its walls are lined with weird and wonderful portraits of old Mumbai families and maharajas. You too can play dress-up and plonk yourself on regal furniture for instant photographs or hand-painted portraits.

Originals: The Friends Union Joshi Club at Narottam Wadi offers a home-style Gujarati thali.

21. Irla Market, Mumbai

The vibe: There are so many banners bearing the name Samsung on Natyakar RG Gadkari Marg in the Mumbai suburb of Irla that you may think you’re at the South Korean company’s annual conference. Irla Market, famous for selling electronics, especially mobile phones, at some of the lowest prices in the country, is laid out along the length of this 300-400m street.

Shop: At Alfa 2, the street’s most famous store, you will find some phones at rates lower than Flipkart’s or Amazon’s, but you have to pay 2% extra if you want to pay by credit or debit card, a deterrent. While the electronics business may be suffering a bit as e-commerce gains traction, Irla Market’s costume jewellery, cosmetics, clothes and fabric stores still draw plenty of shoppers.

Eat/drink: Trendy Taste sells sweets, all sorts of farsan (Maharashtrian and Gujarati snacks) and other snacks, some with a modern twist, such as Chinese samosa and peri peri peanuts.

Curiosity shop: The market is most famous for its Alfa stores, a chain of five shops that sell everything from electronics to imported packaged foods and glassware. The most interesting of the shops is Alfa 3, for the sheer variety of products you find there—from microwaves and ovens to clocks, vases and glass bottles. Walk up a metal staircase and you will find one of the largest collections of rainwear in Mumbai—gumboots of all styles, raincoats and umbrellas.

Originals: Mobile phone covers are available in many stores across India, and online, but you will struggle to find as many designs and prints as you do here. A brazen lack of respect for copyright laws produces covers with everything from your favourite football team’s logo to pictures of singer Madonna.

New economy: Samsung is a favourite here, for it is one of the few electronics brands still distributing products through retailers. You can feel the resentment towards e-commerce here; electronics has been one of the sectors in which online retailers are seriously threatening physical stores.

22. Colaba Causeway, Mumbai

The vibe: With a mix of high-street brands and street stalls, home-grown pubs and international fast-food chains, and a handful of must-see sightseeing spots thrown in for good measure, it truly has something for everyone.

Shop: Our favourites include Anupam Chappals for shoe-closet staple kolhapuris; Bombay Electric, Design Temple and Parvati Villa for indie designer clothes; and the Museum Shop (inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) for original city merchandise.

Eat/drink: Café Churchill has some sinful, home-style desserts, a too-cheesy Baked Corn and Spinach with garlic bread and the city’s best Fish-O-Fillet. There’s also Ling’s Pavilion for authentic Chinese, the meat-only Imbiss, shawarma haven Piccadilly, New Martin Restaurant for Goan staples, Kailash Parbat for vegetarian fare, including Sindhi specialities dal pakwan and koki, dessert shop Theobroma and, our absolute favourite, the sea-facing, beer-and-wine rooftop-bar Bay View at Hotel Harbour View.

Curiosity shop: Bungalow 8, tucked away in a leafy lane off Colaba Causeway, is a wunderkammer packed with vintage toys (including scary Victorian dolls), crockery, collectibles and obscure historical artefacts. It also houses a lovely selection of baby clothes, women’s apparel, jewellery and home décor.

Originals: Think of Phillips Antiques (established in 1860) as more of a museum than a shop to avoid heartbreak. It’s a curious selection of old Bombay goods includes objets d’art like brass toys, lamps, teapots and maps, as well as larger furniture and sculptures in wood, stone and marble.

23. Hill Road, Mumbai

The vibe: A bit like Colaba Causeway, Hill Road in Bandra is designed for shopping on the streets. The stalls stock a bit of everything: export-surplus casuals, seasonal shoes (wellington boots in the rains, flip-flops in the summer and ballerinas through the year), hair accessories, junk jewellery, fabric, lace—the stuff of DIY dreams.

Shop: Stop by at Elco Market for mix-and-match fabrics. La Judi, also known as the home of shoe addicts anonymous, is a hidden gem. Hill Road is also home to some of the largest outlets of chains like Godrej Nature’s Basket and Marks & Spencer in Mumbai.

Eat/drink: Like the rest of the neighbourhood, Hill Road boasts of some of the best restaurants as well as branded chains (Moshe’s, Mamagoto, Ray’s Café and Pizzeria and The Birdsong organic café are just a few in a long list). Elco Pani Puri Centre is the ultimate chaat pit stop on your shopping trip. Stop at J Hearsch & Co. bakery for a quick mayonnaise-soaked chicken roll, Wanton House for old-school Chinese-Indian and cult dive bar Yacht.

Curiosity shop: Le Bijou on the arterial road stocks stockings, risqué lingerie and naughty nightwear along with socks and panties in every imaginable colour, chicken fillets and other bra and butt inserts, not-so-invisible straps, bra back extenders, nipple concealers and travel bags.

Originals: Something Special and Cheap Jack (right above it) are essential to the Mumbai childhood experience. Parents and children spend weekends sourcing raw materials for school projects and party supplies for birthdays at these quirky, decades-old shops.

24. Mahatma Gandhi Market, Mumbai

The vibe: If you’ve ever dreamt of dressing up like a wedding guest in a Karan Johar movie, look no further than Sion’s famous fabric market—Mahatma Gandhi Market. It is all a bit too crowded, too loud and too garish, but it’s fully entertaining even if you’re just window-shopping.

Shop: Most shops at the market offer more or less the same ready-to-wear Punjabi and Pakistani suit sets, mix-and-match fabrics, bridal lehngas and machine-embroidered saris, so be prepared to haggle and pay cash. Brides-to-be will also find elaborate chuda sets, complete with the chandelier-like kalire, at the many accessory shops here.

Eat/drink: Sion Koliwada is just a minute’s walk from Gandhi Market—go there for authentic Punjabi tandoor fare. Our favourites include Hardeep Punjab for tandoori poultry dishes and the neighbourhood’s eponymous koliwada fish, and Manjeet for chhole puri. End on a sweet note at Jhama Sweets with a plate of piping-hot gulab jamuns.

Curiosity shop: Janata Stores is a paradise of namkeen and farsan. Shop for innovations in deep-fried snacks like dosa khakhras, sago puris, miniature pani puris and freshly ground spices. Our grandmothers and mothers swear by their selection of broomsticks, washcloths, brushes and other in-house cleaning supplies.

Originals: A good place to start navigating this fabric labyrinth is Bhagwan Cut-Piece, for everything from casual kurtis to blinged out wedding wear, complete with matching imitation jewellery and bejewelled sandals and jutis.

25. Fort, Mumbai

The vibe: The city’s original commercial complex is a shoppers’ paradise for the Mumbai man. The shops and stalls here deal in men’s clothing, footwear and accessories, analogue toolkits, the latest gadgets, gizmos, even naughty electronic toys and videos.

Shop: Stationery lovers must visit Chimanlals Pvt. Ltd for handmade paper, Apsara Pen Mart and Himalaya Fine Art stationery mart for office and art supplies and Tappu Ki Dukaan for notebooks and desktop gear. There are many camera shops here; if you’re polite, shopowners willingly show off their collection of vintage photo-makers.

Eat/drink: Restaurants serving some of the best Malayali food in the city can be found here. Go to Hotel Deluxe for lunch or visit Ankur—The Coastal Bistro for an after-office wind-down.

Curiosity shop: Contemporary Arts & Crafts’ made-in-India products (cheaper than the lovely Good Earth) include old-fashioned dolls, home linen, framed pop art and crockery.

Originals: One of the city’s oldest departmental stores, Akbarallys went through a massive overhaul and launched itself as a men’s-only multi-brand megastore, complete with a retro-themed barbershop for massages, slow shaves and “mani-pedis”.

26. Linking Road, Mumbai

The vibe: Mumbai’s original high street has retained a bit of soul with home-grown labels, department stores, export-surplus shops and made-in-India fabric shops standing tall next to international brands.

Shop: Vandana, Glanz and Saroj have the city’s best selection of fabric. Some of the biggest names in Indian fashion design have made Linking Road (and the neighbouring bylanes) their home too. Aza, Atosa and Ensemble top our list of multi-designer boutiques in the city.

Eat/drink: Linking Road has more restaurants and bars than anywhere else in the city but to save time on your shopping spree, we recommend eating on the streets. Get koliwada fish from Jai Jawan, fusion south Indian at Manju Dosa, and dry fruit halwa from Tharu’s Mukhi Bhandar.

Curiosity shop: Kapoor Lights sticks out on a stretch otherwise known for clothing, shoes and personal accessories.

Originals: Anarkali Footwear is one of the oldest shoe shops on Linking Road for kolhapuri sandals, jutis and genuine leather sandals for women.

27. Sheikh Memon Street, Mumbai

The vibe: There are a few things to keep in mind before you visit the city’s wholesale haven: Carry cash, map your trip, keep your smartphones in the pocket and eyes on the road.

Shop: The shopping bylanes off Sheikh Memon Street are divided by category: There’s a paper gali, a street dedicated to party supplies, another for recycled glass jars, and so on.

Eat/drink: It’s best to stick to roadside stalls for sugar-cane juice, vada pav and grilled vegetable and cheese sandwiches outside Beauty Centre.

Curiosity shop: Fun N Scare is one of our favourite shops for Halloween and theme parties.

Originals: Calcutta Caps, which has been around since the early 1940s, stocks a range of hats for Rs.30-350. Also on display, but not for sale, is the owner’s personal collection of rare and valuable headgear, including a magician’s hat, a kepi hat and sola topis, kept alive in our memories by Shikari Shambu in Tinkle comics.

28. Connaught Place, Delhi

The vibe: In a word, eclectic.

Shop: Kamala has some lovely traditional toys, including kavad boxes (open the doors one by one to unfold a story from the Mahabharat), starting at Rs. 450.

Eat/drink: Head to Nirula’s for the hot chocolate fudge—the original sundae for anyone who grew up in the Capital in the 1980s-1990s.

Curiosity shop: Ask about Chirmi beads at Nomadic Haat, in the subway near Hanuman Mandir.

Originals: The famous Rikhi Ram shop, which sells music instruments, was set up in 1948, when the founding family moved here from Lahore after Partition.

New economy: Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan in Regal Building got a makeover last year. The service is a bit lacklustre, but you can easily spend an hour browsing through the beauty-products range in the basement.

29. Paharganj, Delhi

The vibe: Located next to the New Delhi Railway Station, it is chaotic and noisy, bustling with foreigners and locals alike. Budget travellers looking for inexpensive accommodation have many options here. The Main Bazaar offers everything from books, music, bags, jewellery and shoes to incense and Indian and Tibetan handicrafts.

Shop: A bargainer’s paradise, you can find everything from wooden idols, vintage clocks, telephones, gramophones and decorative items to T-shirts and pyjamas. A number of shops sell handmade jewellery, including bead necklaces, bracelets, bangles and anklets. There are quite a few options for kitsch lovers—look out for bags, bedspreads, cushion covers and wall hangings.

Eat/drink: From Israeli falafel to Russian salad and Korean dishes, Paharganj is a great place to try international cuisines at reasonable prices. Sit at the Organic German Bakeshop and watch life go by, or try Israeli, Chinese and Italian dishes at the rooftop Sam’s Café.

Curiosity shop: Several shops deal in wholesale and export items. Each shop in the Main Bazaar is a mix of colours.

30. Chandni Chowk, Delhi

The vibe: Packed with old-world charm and some fabulous bargains, Chandni Chowk has entire lanes dedicated to selling just one-two things—a feature it shares with wholesale markets like Sadar Bazaar in the Capital. Chandni Chowk has many heritage buildings. Stop for a selfie outside the 19th century State Bank of India building or near Chunnamal ki Haveli.

Shop: Khari Baoli is a must-see, with its shops selling dry fruits and spices, and essential oils in beautiful glass bottles. The dry fruit here is probably the cheapest you’ll find in the city: Almonds are Rs.800 per kg. We found tasteful lace in Kinari Bazaar starting at Rs.60 for 9m (the minimum you can buy at most shops in this wholesale market). For sari shopping, we recommend Ram Chandra Krishan Chandra down Gali Paranthe Wali. They have an outlet in Karol Bagh too, but this one’s way cheaper. They’ve got the Banarasis and Chanderis and Kotas and what have you, of course, but also the more contemporary linen saris (starting at Rs.4,000).

Eat/drink: In Gali Paranthe Wali, pick any one of the four-five eateries. The seating is non-fussy benches—space is at a premium, and you’re likely to share a table with strangers. We suggest veering a little away from the conventional potato and radish stuffing, though these are delicious too. We had the okra and rabri (condensed milk) ones (Rs.50-65 each) and fell in love with the crossover between the homestyle paratha and fried kachori snacks. There’s a minimum order size of two parathas, which are served with two kinds potato dishes, a pumpkin dish and a sweet chutney.

Curiosity shop: Walk into KBC & Co. (shop No.2089, Kinari Bazaar) to see sequins stacked in public library-style racks.

Originals: Some of the shops, like Gulab Singh Johrimal, which sells ittar perfumes and essential oils in Dariba Kalan, are around 200 years old.

31. Defence Colony, near Moolchand Flyover, Delhi

The vibe: A luxury and fashion market for designer couture, fine jewellery, global luxury brands, furnishings and décor.

Shop: MoonRiver store, which combines décor, books, art, jewellery, fashion, a specialized Abraham & Thakore (A&T) store and a café, is a worthy stop. Register here for information on Open Days with sales and special discounts. Right next door is Kitsch shop, which also houses jewellery—including stunning pieces by Eina Ahluwalia—and assorted fashion brands like Chloé, Alexander McQueen, Diane Von Fürstenberg (DVF) and Dolce & Gabbana. Further down the road are the captivatingly curated stores of JJ Valaya, Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna. Every store is an excuse to shop.

Eat/drink: The MoonRiver café is a serene place for a cup of coffee. Have a bite at Kitsch, which has an outlet of Ritu Dalmia’s Italian restaurant Diva, if you are hungry enough.

Curiosity shop: Ekaya, the Banarasi sari store which also has a branch in Ahmedabad, is high on the must-see list. Definitely pause to pick up handwoven fabrics, and appreciate their stunning use of zari and old kadhua techniques.

Originals: If you had to pick two outstanding pieces in this market, go for a printed draped skirt at the Tarun Tahiliani store (price, around Rs.12,900) and a signature black, white and red Ikat woven sari by A&T. The draped skirt is a fabulous travel companion anywhere in the world: sexy and casual when worn with a sleeveless black vest and elegantly attuned to evening-wear if styled with a short cropped silk jacket in an off-kilter block colour.

The A&T handloom sari (Rs.8,000-10,000) is arrestingly graphic and modern—quieten down its drama with a white cotton short-sleeved blouse or play it up by pairing it with a strappy black lycra top.

New economy: The Nirav Modi jewellery store is, expectedly, a beautiful fit in this market but given the clientele, beauty salons and spas, including Geetanjali and Affinity, have opened shop here. Smart move.

32. Hauz Khas Village (HKV), Delhi

The vibe: Most people assume that this SoHo of Delhi is about eateries and watering holes. But take a stroll through HKV and you will not only find old staples like LetterNote, Nappa Dori, Maati and some trousseau shopping outlets, but also newer concept spaces.

Shop: Six-month-old Translate, which sells Ikat, is not to be missed. Everything here is handcrafted—from silk and cotton saris and stoles to cushion covers, bags and bedspreads. Silk saris start at Rs.15,000, and cotton ones at Rs.8,000.

Eat/drink: For free mango chai and some time to rest your bones and read a bit of Kafka, climb up one floor to Scootart, which also stocks a few sculptures as well as Nehru jackets, most of which are designed in-house. Their Madhubani waistcoat collection is worth a look.

Curiosity shop: For bow ties and pocket squares (starting from Rs.1,199), head to Lacquer Embassy. Housed where the Elma’s tea room used to be earlier, this nine-month-old menswear designer store has quirky tiepins, shirts with graphic designs and leather collars, and the option of ordering bespoke shoes, which are delivered within 6-10 days.

Originals: The five-month-old Four Horsemen offers bespoke goodies. It has wallets (starting at Rs.2,099), belts, sling bags, Cable Tacos (Rs.249) to hold headphones, etc. We also loved the 10-month-old trinket shop Lama, which is a “treasure trove of everything Himalayan”.

33. Meher chand Market, Delhi

This is the place to go for contemporary baubles: Try Crazy Daisy, the CMYK book store, or Play Clan for some really fun kitsch, and Nappa Dori if you’re looking for classy leather bags. Grab a bite at Diva Spiced, the latest outlet by celebrated chef Ritu Dalmia—the pork belly is to die for.

34. Santushti Shopping Complex, Delhi

Located in Chanakyapuri, this is easily one of the swankiest markets in town. There are shops selling everything from high-end teas (San-Cha Aap Ki Pasand) to tasteful clay pots (Wonki Ware) and ready-to-wear (Anokhi, among several others). Spick and span, the market even has peacocks in the gardens. Grab a light bite and a coffee at Basil & Thyme.

35. Pandara Road, Delhi

This is food central. Try Gulati for north Indian, and Ichiban for pan-Asian. Be warned: If you want to experiment with food, this is not the place to go to. For that, you would be better served by, say, the M-block market in Greater Kailash-II (our pick: Artusi) or Hauz Khas Village. This “market” is for a comfortable sit-down with the family, with no surprises on the plate. Expect a wait, even on weekdays.

36. Monastery Market, Delhi

Located near Majnu Ka Tila, close to the University of Delhi’s north campus, the market is known for its Tibetan shawls, statuettes, incense and thangka paintings. Go there, though, for the thukpa—the Tibetan noodles-and-meat meal in a bowl has comfort food written all over it.

37. Karol Bagh, Delhi

The vibe: Walk down Ajmal Khan Road for a dipstick of what the Punjabi heart of New Delhi wants, for here is an abundance of shops selling shoes, purses, clothes, jewellery, gadgets and
yummy food.

Shop: Take your pick of ram laddoos and ready-to-eat/make snacks at the iconic Roopak Stores. Raunaq, which has great bargains on Indian menswear, only opens at 1pm and is usually crowded till it closes around 8pm.

Eat/drink: For arguably the best gol gappas in town, stop at the stall outside Roopak Stores. Eat chhole-bhature at Punjab Sweet Corner; then try the mango kulfi-faluda dessert at Roshan Di Kulfi. Standard Burfee has some fabulous desserts too. Try the classic pista barfi. For a nostalgia-hit, stop by the banta stand (Rs.20 a glass) near Ghaffar Market.

Curiosity shop: We have to give points to Shop No.126 in Ghaffar Market for writing one compelling sign: “Jasoosi Camera”. We had to check out the pen-camera (Rs.500) after reading that. The pen writes too, in case you were wondering.

Originals: The original Ushnak’s (of Ushnak Mal Mool Chand in Karol Bagh and South Extension market) is a tiny cove on Hardhian Singh Road. The sari shop has nothing on display: The vintage saris are too expensive to risk damage by exposure to moisture and dirt.

38. INA Market, Delhi

The vibe: This is a place that will entice you to stock your refrigerator with exotic fruits, vegetables and other eatables that you don’t know how to cook yet.

Shop: “Fresh” defines the goods here. The Ahuja Vegetable Store and Ashok General Store near the fish and meat stalls are go-to places for ingredients for any international cuisine you choose to experiment with—oh yes, Indian too. The Durga Masala Store, which claims to have an 80% Kashmiri clientele, will pull you in with its heady colours and smells. So will the Thankam South Indian Shop, for the hard-to-find-in-Delhi kokum.

Eat/drink: The Malayali dhabas at INA are authentic and cheap. But if you don’t have the stomach for the hole-in-the-wall interiors, we recommend that you hop across the road to the Nagaland food stall at Dilli Haat. Try the Naga thali (pork or chicken with bamboo shoot, rice, dal, steamed vegetables, a seasonal vegetable dish, and a spicy chutney with a delicious fermented flavour) with fruit beer, under the shade of neem trees.

Curiosity shop: If you stumble into the textile section of the market, here’s an idea for the next costume party you get invited to: the Saudi nurse uniform that seems to be in much demand here.

Originals: While at the underground INA Metro station, walk slowly to take in the Union textile ministry’s exquisite display of textiles, paintings and murals by master craftsmen from different parts of the country.

39. Shahpur Jat, Delhi

This is a place at the crossroads: mostly urban, partly rural; poor in parts, swank in others. There is cheap accommodation for migrant labourers, and airy studio homes for artists. Hole-in-the-wall tailoring and dyeing sweatshops and blindingly bright designer stores peddling wedding trousseau. The streets are like a tangle of thin noodles. There is arresting street art on the walls—a giant cat by the artist Anpu plays with a ball of wool on one. This is no Hauz Khas Village yet—it’s not ruled by big brands, booze, throngs of people and interminable traffic jams—but it will get there. Shops still fight for survival here; there is a new one opening every week, and an old one closing down.

For the main action, head to Dada Jungi House—it’s not really a house but a clutch of lanes that make up Shahpur Jat’s high street. In and around Shahpur Jat, discover the remains of the first Muslim city of Delhi, Siri, founded in 1303 by Ala-ud-din Khilji.

40. Mao Bazar, Kohima

In an otherwise commonplace hill station, the bazaars stand out, especially for the way they underline local culinary traditions. Be warned, though, Mao Bazar is a place to avoid if you don’t want to experiment with silkworms, caterpillars, snakes, birds, insects and dog meat. The live pink caterpillars, considered a delicacy, can be quite expensive.

41. Darjeeling Mall, Darjeeling

The vibe: At 6,700ft, the mall is perched right at the top of the sprawling hill station in West Bengal; it’s the place where residents congregate. You can spend hours sitting on one of the many wooden benches fringing the open-air mall circle, watching shoppers, tourists, and young boys playing football. In the distance, you can see the world’s third highest mountain, the Kanchenjunga.

Shop: The area is heavenly for shoppers. The road leading to it is lined with shops selling curios, artworks, Nepalese and Tibetan handicrafts, tea, woollen clothes, and trekking and outdoor gear. At one end of the mall, the Oxford Book & Stationery Co. has a fabulous collection of books on local culture and mountaineering history.

Eat/drink: Begin your day with breakfast at Keventer’s—order the substantial all-meat platter (bacon, ham, salami, sausage, eggs and toast). It has seating on the terrace, offering a partial view of the Kanchenjunga. Just a step away is Glenary’s—a wood-panelled, charming all-day option for bakery items, mocktails, cocktails and dining. Joey’s Pub offers an interesting pub experience.

Curiosity shop: The road on the right, leading towards Darjeeling Zoo, is crowded with stalls where Tibetan refugees sell woollen garments. This is a must-stop for great bargains. Hot Stimulating Café down the road is a good stop for tea and small bites accompanied by vintage rock ‘n’ roll and reggae music.

Originals: The nearly 90-year-old Das Studio is a repository of photographs from the black and white era; a throwback to the time when Darjeeling was a quaint, tree-lined small town with sloping-roof houses.

42. Polo view, Srinagar

The vibe: This street smells of fabric and old wood. Strolling through Polo View, you will find stores selling pashmina and Jamawar shawls, crewel curtains and bedspreads, walnut-wood artefacts, papier-mâché items, spices and saffron.

Shop: Nik Nax blends traditional with modern. The store is expensive but known for its quality. From shawls and embroidered gowns, to kaftans silk suits and woollen jackets, it offers some great buys.

Eat/drink: Amin-Bin-Khalik is one of the best places to buy saffron, kehwa, almonds and vaer (a blend of spices added to meat and vegetable dishes for flavour). Try the pineapple pastry and walnut fudge at the Jee Enn Bakery, and the wazwan and kanti at Ahdoo’s Restaurant and Hotel, a short walk from Polo View.

Curiosity shop: Saklain’s Coterie store sells essential oils extracted from lavender, almonds and rosemary. It has a range of soaps, like almond honey and royal saffron.

43. MalleswaramMarket, Bengaluru

The quaint, sprawling 50-year-old market on Sampige Road is slowly making way for a modern shopping complex. Its undulating topography has been levelled with stone slabs. A fast-disappearing remnant of old Bengaluru, the market has hole-in-the-wall shops selling everything from farm-fresh produce, medicinal greens and herbs to puja paraphernalia, and all that may be required for everything from weddings to funerals.

44. Jayanagar 4th block Complex, Bengaluru

The vibe: A 1970s’ predecessor to today’s malls, the Jayanagar 4th Block Complex is the hub of shopping in south Bengaluru. But there’s something for every kind of non-shopper as well: Romance a date at Cool Joint, book railway tickets, seek divine intervention—two of Bengaluru’s most famous Jain and Ganesha temples are in the neighbourhood—or simply shoot the wind.

Shop: Locals swear by the freshness of the fruits, meat, fish and, especially, the greens. And if you’re looking for affordable, non-branded clothes, the street vendors here offer every kind of garment in every colour imaginable.

Eat/drink: Grilled vegetable sandwiches and ice creams at Cool Joint, veg puffs, egg puffs, aloo buns, rusks, plain cake and sweet/khara biscuits at the Iyengar Bakery, pedas at the Dharwad Mishra Peda store, Bangarpet pani puri—the pani is almost colourless, not tamarind-brown or chutney-green—at Pavithra Hotel.

Curiosity shop: Without question, the tailors who rustle up sari blouses within the hour, “inspired” by ideas from the latest fashion magazine. Femina is the oldest and most famous tailoring outfit here. Also available: a variety of semi-stitched blouses.

Originals: How many markets can claim to have a movie named after them? Jayanagar 4th Block, a 2013 short, focuses on the relationship between an aspiring actor, a young flower-seller and a senior citizen permanently stationed on an old stone bench. Its director, D. Sathya Prakash, 30, thought the unique old-world-charm-meets-today’s-fast-paced-life vibe would be the perfect setting for his story.

45. Gandhi Bazaar, Bengaluru

The vibe: Gandhi Bazaar is the soul of old Bengaluru in Basavanagudi. The smells and sights transport you to a time before the city became an information technology hub. The market, situated along the Gandhi Bazaar Main Road, is famous for fruits, vegetables and flowers. DVG Road, which cuts through the market, is the retail hub. Reliance Trends and Foodworld are among the few representatives of organized retail in what remains an old-style market.

Shop: Baskets upon baskets of fragrant mallige (jasmine) are piled on the pavements. The sensory overload continues with the Mahila Kangan Store, which has a dazzling array of bangles and bindis, the numerous gandhige stores selling puja articles, Sri Aruna Coffee Works’ filter coffee powder, and the delicious home-style pickles at Sri Manjunatha Stores. Many of the stalls and shops shut in the afternoons.

Eat/drink: Among the must-haves are the famed masala dosas at Vidyarthi Bhavan (VB), the crisp mini vadas at Udipi Krishna Bhawan, and the chaats and samosas at Sri Venkateshwara Sweet-Meat Store. The area also boasts of a famous military mess: New Prashanth Hotel. And some of the best bajjis and bondas in the city are on offer at the small roadside stores every evening near the crossing of the second circle.

Curiosity shop: Srinivasa Condiment Stores on HB Samaja Road (just off DVG Road), set up in 1948 by Subamma, a woman who was widowed young. It sells over 50 items—chakkali, benne murukku, kodubale, tokku and congress kadlekai—many of which are made fresh every day. Prices start at Rs.2 (yes, you read that right).

Originals: It is hard to look beyond VB for the flavour of ghee-laden, thick dosas. Be warned: The peak-hour (early morning and late evening) queues are serpentine.

46. Russell Market, Bengaluru

The vibe: Russell Market is a market within a market, a colonial structure within the vast commercial sprawl of Shivajinagar. This was the original destination market for “white” Bengaluru, where the memsahibs went shopping for domestic provisions and fresh flowers. As with all old parts of the city, this one too breathes a live-and-let-live culture.

Shop: Locals swear by Nizam’s knowledge of cuts of beef (ask for him down the passage on the left in the meats section).

Eat/drink: Shivajinagar is thick with budget eateries that serve Bengaluru’s take on Muslim food. For breakfast, the paya at Taj Hotel is recommended.

Curiosity shop: Undoubtedly, Adams, the two-floor kitchenware store in what is technically Richard’s Square. This is where kitchen professionals shop, we are told confidentially, and the heavy-duty steel pots and pans stowed on their upper floor bear out the claim.

New economy: Since the market suffered a major fire in 2012, it has been wearing a rather neglected look. There has long been talk of it being torn down and rebuilt but it’s still just that—talk.

47. Cox Town Market, Bengaluru

The vibe: Legend describes it as the best source of fish in the city, but as noteworthy are Lakshmi General Stores, Thomsons bakery, St Peter’s Church, and the rain trees on either side of the road that arch over to keep the sun out.

Shop: The fresh produce, especially the seafood, attracts people from well beyond the neighbourhood. There are two fish stalls cheek by jowl, but Rabbani Fish Centre probably has more loyalists.

Eat/drink: The stand-and-eat darshini restaurants offer decent vada s, idlis and dosas.

Curiosity shop: On 1 January every year, the market is closed to traffic and converted into a huge fairground. Fairy lights and buntings string the streets, and the sidewalks are taken over by vendors selling everything from plastic utensils in lurid colours to nail enamel, kitschy trinkets and chappals.

Originals: Are the goods the best? Sure, especially the fresh produce. Are they unique? Even loyalists wouldn’t buy that.

New economy: The old British structure of the market was demolished in 1999 to make way for a “modern” one but, 16 years on, the shops still operate out of “temporary” shacks.

48. Chickpet, Bengaluru

Almost 400 years old, covering the narrow Chickpet Main Road, Avenue Road and BVK Iyengar Road area in the heart of the city, this wholesale market specializes in saris—especially Kanjeevaram silks—dress material and gold jewellery. Some of the most popular shops are Sudarshan Silks, Kuberan Silks, Mysore Silk Emporium and Sudarshan Jewellery. If affordability and a wide range are what you’re looking for, look no further.

49. Krishna Rajendra Market/City Market, Bengaluru

Located in the busy Kalasipalyam area, it is among the biggest wholesale markets in the city; fruits, vegetables and flowers make their way here from Anekal, Hoskote, Kanakapura, etc. The flower market at the centre is one of the largest you’ll see. From bargain hunters to bulk buyers, City Market has something for everyone.

50. Commercial Street, Bengaluru

Over the past couple of years, high-street retailers have tried, but not quite managed, to gentrify this market whose lanes were once segregated by trade. Clothes and personal accessories dominate it, but look hard enough and you’ll find everything from bathroom hardware to (pirated) software here.

Ashwaq Masoodi, Prerna Makhija, Shamik Bag, Karthika Gopalakrishnan, Elizabeth Kuruvilla, Sumana Mukherjee, Shefalee Vasudev, Seema Chowdhry, Dustin Silgardo, Dhamini Ratnam, Rudraneil Sengupta, Pooja Chaturvedi, Revati Upadhya, Shambhavi Chauhan, Akhila Ranganna, Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi and Sanjukta Sharma contributed to this story.

First Published: Sat, Aug 01 2015. 12 53 AM IST


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