These are times of shopping online. All that we have to do is sit at the comfort of our homes and make sure whatever we want is delivered to our doorstep. But shopping physically is still a thrill for many and shopping at flea markets is something that a lot of us look forward to. It is the vibe and the vibrancy that draws us to these places where shopping is not just picking up choices and billing but it is haggling and bargaining that adds a certain sense of achievement. Isn’t it? ‘Dene ka rate bolo’ is the tagline we live by in these markets. And not just that, we know secretly as shoppers that these exclusive (mostly handmade) things will not be available anywhere else. But it remains a fact that we don’t want to admit and give away.
Our country, India is home to one of the oldest and finest markets that are known for their cultural history. These Indian bazaars began with a basic concept of trade and bargain but currently flea markets have been much more welcoming, embracing contemporary and modern approaches.
These flea markets exist in every corner of the country charming people with its exclusivity. Each one carries its own authenticity drawing people from far and near. Join us as we march on to find and list out some of the best and must-visit unruly flea markets where you will end up buying exclusive stuff.
1. Surajkund International Crafts Mela, Faridabad
Surajkund, translated as ‘Lake of the Sun’, is an ancient reservoir built in the 10th century by King Suraj Pal of the Tomar dynasty. Started in the 80’s, Surajkund Mela shines in immense its vibrancy for being a gathering of global cultures. If you are from the Northern part of India or happen to be in the area, Surajkund mela in Faridabad cannot be missed for the flea market encapsulates the spirit of art, food, music and culture in a span of 6 days. From finding antiques to traditional handicrafts, Surajkund Mela is the largest International crafts flea market in the world.
Visitors get a glimpse of the true artisans of the country whose work of art carries deep significance. Not just nationally, but people around the world from Sri Lanka, Egypt, Thailand, Africa, Japan participate in the mela displaying their heritage. This year Surajkund International Crafts Mela entered its 34th year and Uzbekistan was the partner nation.
2. Soul Sante, Bangalore
If Soul Sante has become a household name in Bangalore, it is Asha Rao and Sanam Malhotra who deserve all the applause. This 15-year old flea market has been Bangalore’s beloved flea market for anyone who has a creative bent.
The founders’ admiration for fabric and art drove them to begin Soul Sante. From starting small to making it a prominent brand in the city, Soul Sante attracts 20,000 visitors 5 times a year. 2-days of this flea market is dedicated to pure fun and frolic with 300 stalls from diverse crafts adorning a huge ground, various delicacies displayed and music bands keeping the day alive.
3. Pushkar Mela, Rajasthan
If a kaleidoscope of cultures exist, it has to be in Rajasthan. One of the most vibrant cities in India organizes Pushkar Mela, a 5-day extravagant flea market known to people worldwide.
Hot air balloon rides, camel decorations, handicrafts bazaar, mustache competition, turban tying and other cultural events become the highlight of Pushkar mela. Held in the month of November every year, a trip to this flea market will give you a run for your money and leave you with an experience like no other.
4. Kadlekai Parishe, Bangalore
Kadlekai Parishe which is also called as Peanut festival is held in the month of November in Bangalore. Kadlekai translates to Peanuts in Kannada and this festival is celebrated to honour the first ground crop of the year. The festival organizes a flea market where hundreds of people visit the market in order to buy peanuts at wholesale prices. Besides, several stalls selling handicrafts, food, toys and much more are found in this flea market.
Years ago, villages adjacent to Basavanagudi in Bangalore had several groundnut cultivation farms and every year, groundnut was produced. It is believed that every year, groundnut crops used to get damaged by a raging bull that would attack the farms ready for harvest.
To protect their harvest, farmers prayed to Basava (Nandi) and offered their first crop to the Lord. An idol of Basava was found and Kempe Gowda built a temple around it in the 16th century, which is known as Basavana Gudi or Big Bull Temple.
Kadalekai Parishe is centered around this temple with the belief that Basava would consume a farmer’s offering of ground nuts and bless them.
5. Chandigarh National Craft Mela, Kalagram
Chandigarh National Craft Mela is another popular flea market that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Folk artists and cultural groups from all over the country come together to display their heritage in the most ecstatic manner.
Food, dance performances, jewellery, carpets, clothes and a whole lot of exciting activities take centre stage at this event.
Like the above mentioned flea markets, there are similar flea markets that form the highlight of events in India. If you have visited a flea market that deserves to be mentioned, we’d love to hear all about it.