One of the most enriching moments of every trip to India is the contact with local people and there is hardly a better experience in India than that offered by the colorful, chaotic, hectic markets and bazaars. For this reason, anyone who has decided to take a tour of the country, must include a visit to the local markets in their itinerary.
So here is a list of the most interesting ones, area by area.
Mumbai is a multifaceted city, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, full of markets and bazaars, the best place to get a genuine insight on local culture. For example, there is Crawford Market, one of the main and largest fruit and vegetable markets in the city. A little lane, Mirchi Galli, is devoted to the sale of spices, the essential ingredient of Indian gastronomy.
Mangadalas Market is a maze of lanes, where pieces of cloth are generally sold, while in Zaveri Bazaar you can purchase golden and silver jewellery. For those wishing to see a typical flower market, the place to go is Phool Galli, the biggest in the city.
In the city of Chennai there is popular Pondy Bazaar, where, in the late afternoon, sidewalks fill with stalls selling objects for domestic use, mainly in steel, silver or golden ornaments. You can also buy traditional Indian shoes, food and electonic items. It is really surprising to see hawkers, sellers of items for the house, fruits and flowers.
Do not miss the silk shops the city is famous for, where you can buy Kanjivaram saris, decorated with gems: it is among the stalls that you really breathe in the soul of Chennai.
Those preparing for a trip to India are usually interested in seeing a spice market: India was in fact important for the spice route in the past. At Delhi spice market anyway you can also find handicrafts made in ivory, silk, gold, gems and metals in great quantity.
You will also be charmed by the colorful spices stacked in proper sacks: pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli... let yourself be enchanted by the colors and perfumes of this place.
And finally let's come to the flower market: there are many all over India, but the most important is in Kolkata. On the banks of the Hooghly, near the bridge, you will find this magical and picturesque market, to be visited in the early morning preferably. Here you will meet men of every age holding baskets and bags containing colorful flowers, while, at the first rays of lights, bargaining starts. What are these flowers used for? The Indians buy them for decorations at festivities and religious ceremonies, or for domestic everyday rituals.
Furthermore, Kolkata market supplies almost all marigolds for wedding ceremonies in India.