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. 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. 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.
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.
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. Arpora Saturday Night Market, Goa More a tourist destination than a market for locals, this is a hub for food, drink, dance and music.
India’s middle classes were capturing their polyester memories on Agfa Click IIIs that cost 46.50 rupees (taxes extra), aspiring to the lifestyles of “The Jet Set Air Hostesses” described in The Illustrated Weekly of India (price: 85 paise), and being encouraged by newspaper ads to “Go gay with Gaylord fine filter cigarettes”.
As the City of Gold bubbled through its jazz age, Lorna and Chris enthralled Bombay with their shows at Venice each night.