By Ashni Dhaor:
In an age of online shopping and supermarkets, the culture of traditional markets in India strives to survive. India, being a land of different cultures and ethnicity, can always impress you with its rich heritage through the wide array of traditional markets it hosts. These traditional markets reflect the culture of the place where it is located. These are not simple street markets, but ones which specialize as the traditional market of that place.
Here are some of the famous traditional markets in India:
1. Johari Bazaar, Jaipur:
As the name suggests, this ancient market in the pink city of Jaipur is comprised of hundreds of ancestral shops specializing in Rajasthani jewelry. You will not only find traditional jewelries like Kundan, Meenakari , Thewa and Polki here, but intricate works of precious and semi- precious stones as well. The list doesn’t end at jewelries as the market also has textile shops. From bandhej and leheria sarees, suits to block printed bed sheets and jaipuri rajais, you will get it all here. The origin of Johari Bazaar can be dated back to 1727 when the city of Jaipur came into being. The bazaar was proclaimed as the main shopping market of the town and has since retained its primacy.
2. Dilli Haat, New Delhi:
Located in south Delhi right opposite the INA market, Dilli Haat is a handicraft market which offers traditional handicrafts from not only Delhi, but all over India. The place also has food joints from various states of India which have lip smacking dishes to offer. Delhi has another such market which is situated in Pitampura, Delhi. The handicrafts’ hub has sellers and artisans coming from all parts of India to sell their products which are a reflection of the tradition and culture of the place they come from. Dilli haat was established in 1994 by the Government of India to encourage tourism in the area and promote our country’s varied heritage.
3. Ima market, Imphal:
Ima kentheil, as it is locally known, is the only market in the world wherein you’ll find over 3500 women shopkeepers running their business and signifying the economic participation of Manipuri women. Also known as Mother’s Market (in Manipuri, Ima means mother and kentheil means market), it is a huge marketplace where you can find almost everything. In one section of the market you can get their authentic food items like dried fish to local herbs to clothes and woolens, and traditional costumes, while the other section of the market offers handloom products of the state. There is no clear record of the origin of the market, though researchers have found that the Gazetteer of Manipur in 1786 indicated that all the marketing of the area was conducted by women in open air and markets were mostly held in morning time.
4. Lakkar Bazaar, Shimla:
For ages, wood has been used in Himachal Pradesh for construction of temples, homes, idols etc. Lakkar bazaar situated near the ridge in Shimla captures the very essence of the abundance of different types of wood found in the state. The marketplace offers all kinds of locally made wooden products like toys, souvenirs, utility items and wooden jewelry. Don’t get mislead by the name, since the variety of items offered by the bazaar does not limit to wooden items only. The market has a majority of shops which sell woolens and handicrafts. The kullu shawls available here are especially famous. The market was established when a group of Sikh carpenters came and settled here from Hoshiarpur and set up their own shops and wooden businesses.
5. Floating vegetable market, Srinagar:
The only one of its kind in India, the floating vegetable market at Srinagar’s Dal Lake is a major tourist attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. The serene lake, also home to numerous lotus plants, lightens up when the vegetable vendors set out for business from 5 AM to 7 AM on their traditional kashmiri boats, called shikaras. The vendors themselves are the farmers who grow the vegetables and fruits in their farms and then bring them to the floating market to sell. The market now also has a plethora of shikaras selling saffron, wood carvings and various items of tourist interests.
6. New market, Kolkata:
Unlike its name, this marketplace was established in 1874, under the British Raj. Situated on the Lindsey Street in Kolkata, the place is a reminiscence of the British architecture in the city. The place is a shopper’s heaven since there is a wide variety of shops selling everything under one roof. The market is divided into various sections where in one section you may see delicious fruit cake shops while on the other hand, a majority of shops sell sarees, many of them being the traditional ones. The market also sells household items like marble flooring, crockery and crystals. New market’s florist shops are famous as well.
7. Kannauj Market, Uttar Pradesh:
Also known as the perfume capital of India, Kannauj Market is situated in the Kannauj district of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the river Ganga. In this age of technology, the perfume industry at Kannauj has retained its culture. It uses the traditional method of manufacturing ‘attar’, as it is locally called. The process is traditionally known as ‘Degs & Bhapka system’, which is a hydro distillation process. The system has been going on since the Mughal period and people have been involved in the business ancestrally. Historically, the attars were used as perfume by the kings and queens but now its use is mainly for tobacco and gutka industry. Though there still remains a class of people, particularly muslims, who like to use attars as perfumes.
8. Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad:
Laad bazaar, also known as Choodi bazaar is a heaven for jewelry shoppers, particularly bangles. Laad, meaning lacquer, is used to make bangles on which artificial diamonds are studded. The whole market is bustling with more than 100 shops selling all kinds of bangles. The place is a traditional hub of culture in Hyderabad where you can find khara dupattas as well as the famous naturally scented attars. Situated on one of the four lanes branching out from Chaar Minaar, the market is ancient, considering that it has been in operation since the Nizams in 1724.
India is a beautiful country entwined between the traditions of the past and the advancements of technology. These traditional markets are souvenirs of the economic boom in which India was functioning centuries ago because of the skilled craftsmanship in our country. Though no part of the country has been untouched from the modern inventions taking place in the world, these traditional markets have successfully proven that it is possible to move forward without losing your origins.