Flea markets don’t need a mention but there could still be some nooks tucked away, perhaps in your own city, which you may not be aware of. This post hopes to throw light on those. Before you plan a break, you may want to know what a place could be famous for. More importantly, when you’re scouring for novel gifts , the following information could come handy.
While most of these are just a click away & will be delivered at your doorstep, setting your sight on pretty things, feeling the texture & haggling is an experience by itself..
No matter where you trot, you’d always want to bring home a bit of where you’d been!
Colaba Causeway, Mumbai
Yes, I wanted to start with our very own Colaba, Mumbai! Strangely, some locals are delightedly surprised to know that there’s much more to Colaba than the Taj or Regal!
Rows of shops lie masked under a canopy of sheets from the lane where Regal Theater stands.
What’s in Store-Baubles and trinkets twinkling in sunlight. Semi-Precious stones like Lapiz Lazuli, Garnet, Jade, Amathyst, Onyx, crystals etc are strung together to make pretty necklaces. Every shop is an Aladdin’s cave & you’ll never tire of halting at every shop!
From trinkets in stones, shaped in all imaginable shapes, bling jewelry, which young girls would die for,
to bling jewelry
to colorful shoulder bags,
to clutch purses done in pretty sequins and cotton shoulder-bags in myriad colors,
to colorful stoles
to even paintings, Colaba has it all!!
Your bag is sure to burst at the seams; your purse will be light too!
From necklaces that are strung in Lapiz Lazuli, Garnet, Jade and shells which they claim are washed ashore, these stalls sell paintings and marble wares too. Precious stones scintillating in sunlight, cast a spell, that’s simply hard to resist.
Oshiwara Antique Shops
These nondescript shops unfortunately have perhaps been overshadowed by the famed Chor Bazar. However, walking through the row of shops, will I betcha give you that adrenaline rush!
If you are an art or an antique aficionado, this is the place for you.
From blue pottery to ceramic sets, wooden treens, lampshades, Ravi Verma paintings, figurines to antique furniture, you get it all here..
If you, like me, love antique stuff, then you could scout for these in these shops, but mind you, reserve the whole day for shopping!
Gramin Arts with its traditional wooden figurines & curios, is a hub for South Indian artefacts.
From traditional wooden plaques done in typical colors, to metal temple doors to match boxes of yore, Gramin will surely keep you piqued.
However, Gramin is also a tad expensive than most others.
Saba Curios on the main road is for elegant antique chandeliers & lamps.
Kasheli Market, Mumbai
This market, predominantly a furniture mart, spread over a large expanse lies secluded from prying eyes, in the fringes of Mumbai, Thane to be specific.
While most deal with contemporary furniture, there are two shops dealing with antique furniture. One of these is exactly near the entrance & to the right & the other, a bit farther away & is Antique Loft.
At one corner is Sai Art Gallery, with its modern artefacts. The shop also has a good collection of wall paper designs.
Meena Bazar, New Delhi
What’s in Store-Miniature figurines representing Indian costumes, along with miniature dining table set made in brass. The Taj Mahal is a permanent fixture as are Meenakari trinkets and bangles & Kalamkari fabric. At the far end usually is an attar shop selling exotic fragrances in tiny bottles.
Shoulder bags and reticules in vibrant hues, embroidered with tassels and sequins left dangling on strings will never fail to titivate passersby. Cushions and clutches with mirror-work and sequins, urns & lanterns, Jootis, paintings and all things pretty are on display.
Vandippalayam, Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
On the outskirts of the coastal city of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, lies a sleepy hamlet, nondescript until you walk into the by-lanes lined with colorful clay idols! Thatched huts ―a quintessence of this village, lie strewn across its length and breadth.
While most tourists would give Vandipallayam a definite miss, a typical Tamilian household, which celebrates Navrathri Golu would not & should not!
What’s in Store-Visit every little cottage here and place an order for each set. From traditional Ram, Lakshman etc to Dashavatar to cricket set, everything is carefully fashioned and chiseled to perfection.
While Tanjore paintings are no more the purview of Tanjavur, while in Chennai, you might as well scout for these precious paintings, inlaid with gold foils and semi-precious stones. The main themes are Gods and demigods, but with a richness that’s sure to make it aesthetic.
Where-Central Cottage Emporium at Nandanam in Chennai has a stock of original Tanjore paintings, apart from R. Govindarajan in Tanjavur itself.
What’s in Store-Bejeweled bangles, gilt necklaces, trinkets studded with semi-precious gems in various colors, baubles and bibelots, and Hyderabad pearls strung together, can be a titillating visual treat & I daresay that no woman can leave without making some purchase here.
Sparkling stones in myriad hues, earrings patterned in Mughal designs, ornaments carved out like pomegranates, mangoes, peacocks and roses would soon find their way into your bag
Kondapalli, Andra Pradesh
About 15 kilometers from Vijaywada, is the village of Kondapalli.
What’s in Store-Colorful Wooden toys and wooden dolls, papier mache dolls, wooden masks and totems depicting Gods and patrons. Vibrantly colored, these toys are light to carry and can enliven any boring space. South Indian homes that celebrate Navratri Gollu should not miss this.
About 2 hours from Mysore en route to Bangalore, is Chennapatnam, a sleepy village, which you may casually pass by. However, if you pause to visit its numerous shops, you’d discover something more.
Like Kondapalli, Chennapatnam in Karnataka too is renowned for its wooden toys or bommas (dolls).
What’s in Store-Gorgeous Kolkatta cotton handwoven sarees.
You’d rather spend 2 full days shopping for Kolkatta sarees, Tanchoi sarees and hand crafted jewelry. Lac bangles, shell bangles, the visage of the Mother Goddess Kaali, jute reticules, pochettes, cane letter-boxes et al will am sure leave you running from pillar to post shopping for more!
Sikkimese Kho (Traditional Costume of Sikkimese Women)
Tibetan handicrafts, Tibetan bells, dragons and amulets, et al are sure to leave you spell-bound. Tashi View Point and other places have to wait!
Do buy some! It’s a remarkable experience to listen to these songs usually set in mountainous music. There’re 2 Music Shops in MG. Market itself.
Eucalyptus oil, sandalwood paste, stone jewelry
scarves and stoles, and even Kashmiri Kurtis!
Antique bronze curios like antiquated Telephone sets perhaps fashioned by Graham Bell himself!
What’s in Store-With twinkling trinkets and gorgeous jewelry creatively and fashionably done, this place is not easy to resist.
- Housing a vast array of bijouterie and eye-catching stuff, this sure is a one-stop place for vanity needs. Imitation Jewelry done in contemporary styles, hair-clips studded with glittering gems, clutches, bangles and anklets ―all encased in revolving glass shelves, are sure to mesmerize all and sundry.
Glimmering chains & bracelets hang from ceilings, reflect these eye-catching wonders. Mirrors on walls reflecting sparkling spectacles encased in cases cast an enchanting spell & and what do we have here? Are we in Aladdin’s cave?
Thanks to NRIs in Gulf (Gelf), some exhibits are Arabic in design and some contemporary, to suit changing times! Some are distinctively South Indian in style, while some are western too. However, each piece is stunningly unique!
V.M. Subramania Iyer & Sons, Trichur, Kerala
Shri Chitra Art Gallery, Trivandrum
What’s in Store-Housed within is a treasure trove of murals and paintings done by the great Raja Ravi Varma! Known as the ‘Painter among Princes’ and ‘Prince among Painters’, this talented artist was born into an aristocratic family. One look at his paintings and you’d wonder if it was God who personally held the artist’s hands while the strokes emerged on canvas!
Women being his main muse, you can take your pick of graceful nymphs, dignified wives, stately queens, shy belles, et al.
Shankautala pretending to pick a thorn while stealing a glance at her paramour.
Yashoda with infant Krishna
Reproduced copies of the original are available.
Johari Bazar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
When you’re done with palatial palaces, visit this place to add a dash of panache to your persona with all that you can collect at Jaipur’s Johari Bazar. To me, Jaipur is one beautiful & prosperous city!
Even today Jaipur caters to a woman’s every whim, transforming her to a Rani of yore!
Shops leading to Eklingji Temple have an assortment of wares. Even the shops dotting the precincts of Kumbhalgarh Fort boast of quaint curios.
Pichwada Paintings adorn those near Nathdwara Temple.
Chaitri Roses are christened thus as these bloom in March-April or Chiatra (Hindu Month).
Chaitri roses cultivated here are used in perfumes, in Gulghand, juices & potions that have medicinal value.
A miniature of this marmoreal beauty does deserve a place of pride in your home.
T. Nagar (Thyagaraja Nagar, Chennai), Tamil Nadu
If there’s any street that’s happening and throbbing with a happy & thrilled crowd, then it’s undoubtedly T-Nagar or Tyagaraja Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu!
- Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Scattered like shells on the shores of Kanyakumari are a hundred shops selling the quaintest of curios made of sea-shells and wood.
The shoreline is bedizened with shops selling geegaws like mirrors, necklaces, bracelets, conch necklaces, flower pots, tchotchkes & gimcracks ―all made of sea shells. You’d in a few minutes become a seasoned mudlark, scouring for fascinating things!
Do not miss some of the most beautiful, silken sarees (not silk) sold at throwaway prices here! You’d end up buying an additional bag to accommodate sarees!
Cauvery, Bangalore, Karnataka
With a chain of shops dotting not only the whole of Karnataka, from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, but also India’s metropolitan cities, Cauvery is an art-lover’s haven.
Located in Jayanagar, Bangalore, the store with 3 storeys, houses artefacts & handicrafts in brass, stone, marble, wood work, paintings, pooja items, bells, giant busts of the Buddha et al.
Reserve about 2 hours & you will be sated. It’s exquisite & you will love the place.
Anjuna Flea Market, Goa
While every Goan beach has its own flea market, the one at Anjuna offers the whole of India in a platter! Given the influx of foreigners, clever artisans have consolidated their place here!
The beauty and the salubrious climes of the hills have made artists, writers & poets out of ordinary men. Or perhaps it is here where most artists and poets have chosen to put down roots.
Andretta, around 11 km from Palampur in Himachal Pradesh houses a collection of Sobha Singh’s works. His muse being hilly belles, the beauty of a Gaddi woman has been well captured by this artist ―the most famous being the portrait of ‘Sohni Mahiwal’.
En route to Dharamshala from Palampur, is the home of artist OP Tak. The locals will guide you there. Strewn within, are pretty Pahadi paintings of patricians, beasts and birds. The intricacy of tiny leaves and flowers on canvas only betokens his artistic deftness. His paintings have also graced the halls of many a five star hotel.
During our trip some years ago, we were lucky to meet up with the artist, who showed us his several masterpieces.
Manali Mall Road, Himachal Pradesh
Kotwali Bazar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh
What’s in Store-8 lucky charms, vibrant carpets, Thangkas, prayer wheels, Tara busts etc. Kangra Art Gallery displaying Kangra Paintings is a must visit.
Numerous shops designing batik work on fabric, dot KL and you must visit one to see the process of getting the batik designed.
This girl here, willingly obliged to pose for a snap, as I captured her skills.
Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
You must allot one whole day. This one is verily the shopaholic’s haven. This is the place where you can haggle & the place that has the showpieces, the ‘antiques’, paintings & everything you can take home for your near & dear ones.
I cannot proceed without mentioning the honesty of some of its shopkeepers. The shop at the farther end & close to Marriamman Temple had a display of lovely floral tops, which I’ve always loved. What I found attractive didn’t fit me & those that fitted me, were not to my liking. I must’ve spent more than 30 minutes & was about to zero in on one, when the lady at the counter told me to go for it only I were fully satisfied.
“I unthersthand ith may not fith you & if you alther ith, the beauthy of the dthress goes. You can thake your thime & choose; no hurry. You could thry in other shops also, mam.” (Note: Some Southeast Asians prefer dropping the T sound in favor of ‘th’😉
Unlike other snappy shopkeepers who dislike reluctant customers who merely hover around without heading for the counter, this lady was very thoughtful & hence this mention. May her tribe increase!
Do go through my post on Singapore also.
Mustafa Market, Singapore
Despite the several malls in Singapore, Mustafa has been the favorite especially among Indians and a shopping spree here will not disappoint you.
What’s in Store –Different levels within house an array of wares ranging from everyday needs, designer clothes, sarees, gold jewelry, perfumes, cutlery, souvenirs and the famous Tiger Balm!!
Bali’s wood work vies for attention with its silverware & art display. Its batik work can be found in masks & sarongs. The most famous objet d’ art being Rama & Sita, you’d most certainly buy one set.
Mas near Ubud, has shops displaying its marvellous furniture & colossi. But Ubud Market is where you get tiny treens.
This granny’s wares are sure to arrest your attention-in fact you’d surely fill your palms with as much as you can pick!
Upon my driver’s suggestion, I bought a few keepsakes from an old lady who sold souvenirs by the Paro riverside, at giveaway prices. Cotton bags & purses in Bhutanese designs, table clocks with the 8 lucky symbols or the Punakha Dzong are some of the things she sold.
Many opine that it’s in Paro where one finds goods at a cheaper price. However, if starting your journey in Phuntsholing, do walk around the market place. That way you can compare the price & if returning to Phuntsholing, you can still make those purchases you couldn’t in other places. Also, this allows you to travel light to other destinations, as Phuntsholing is the border district.
Tshela Handicrafts, Phuntsholing (above), has a very exotic & exhaustive collection of souvenirs & knickknacks.
It’s not uncommon to find rooftops in bright red. The locals especially farmers dry these on their rooftops. Bhutanese red chilies are known for their distinct flavor & my friends, who picked them in kilos, vouched for their distinctive spiciness in pickles, which they later made.
Those white cubes, which the women pluck off the strings that dangle from shop roofs, are nothing but yak cheese! These make for tasty tidbits that you could munch on the way or take home with. Dried apple peels are packed in grams & these also make for delicious mincemeat.
Akin to the gho & kira patterns of Bhutan, are cotton materials being sold at Jaigaon market just outside Phuntsholing. With a little bit of creativity, you could transform these into a fashionable ensemble.
Taking home a slice of where one has been is an integral part of traveling. And flea-markets form a very important part of an itinerary, where you’d get the most authentic designs and motifs of the place.