How our greed for comfort has brought us from local markets to mall but if you give it a thought, these lifestyle centres have put an end to that unexplained excitement of running through one of those scattered markets and squeezing into its narrow lanes to buy one single item. Infact, there is so much that we miss out by not shopping in a local market that if I start to list it this write up will never end. Thankfully, it is not the end of the world and being in a country like India we still have access to these lovely vivacious markets that often get on the nerves if any festival or a wedding season is approaching. Not only the urban markets, but in a country like India, the rural bazaars have so much to offer. And if you thought local urban markets were fun then think how much more the authentic rural bazaars would be exciting you. Often reflecting creativity and rich culture these markets in the rural area can add some of the finest memories to your India tour. So, without adding more to the introduction, we’d take you to the list of 10 best rural bazaars in India.
The weekly market and cattle fair held with much pomp and show is what makes Rajur top the rural bazaar list in India. Rajur is a small village situated somewhere around 270kms from Mumbai. Every Monday a weekly market is held here for locals to buy all their grocery and other household items. The biggest market can be seen in the month of December in which cattle trade also takes place. The annual fair is what needs to be looked forward to as the ambiance then looks no less than that of a festival. Everybody is dressed at their best; folks come in to Rajur from all other neighbouring villages; cattle traders stay on the grounds for straight two days, hoping to get a fair deal for their cattle; they have their cattle (Ox) decorated in order to attract buyers and there are food stalls beckoning some delicious looking street food. And that’s not all, there is so much to see in this bazaar that you will not believe that you have been missing out on all this stuff; so whenever an opportunity arises, make sure you visit Rajur.
In the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, there are more than 100 villages, and every day, in one or the other villages, a haat or local market is held. These local markets help the tribal people of the district to trade, barter and buy household items and other necessary articles. There are a few villages that have larger and brighter markets than the others. Amongst these local haats, Jagdalpur is one of the important centres. Although a town, this place is known for its market that is extremely popular amongst tribals. In this market people from different tribes in Chhattisgarh are seen buying, selling and bartering along with other traders. It is a Sunday market and is known as Sanjay Market. Jagdalpur market is one of those few markets where the culture and lifestyle of the tribals is reflected best. Home-made alcohol, food, tribal jewelery articles and paan can be seen being sold in this market. Also, cock fight is something that you will see most people are interested in.
Chaitkona is situated in the Rayagada district of Odisha. The region has a large tribal population amongst which Dongaria Kondh is the most primitive tribe. The weekly market is held here on every Wednesday and said and unsaid it is amongst the most colourful market in the region. In the bazaar, Dongaria are seen selling their produce like turmeric, tamarind, orange, banana, pineapple and mahula. This is probably one of the finest rural bazaars in Odisha region and no doubt a lot of foreign tourists are seen doing photography and videography of the events here.
Ankadelli is the village of Koraput district of Odisha. This tribal village is famous for its weekly market held on each Thursday. Ankadelli is the home of Bonda tribe, thus one can see Ankadelli along with other tribes buying and selling their goods. The highlight of this rural bazaar in Odisha is the Bonda woman in their colorful jewellery selling their produced commodities. The market has everything that is of use in any tribal household, apart from it, colourful home-made jewellery is also the highlight of this bazaar.
Note: Photography is forbidden at Ankadelli at present. You need to have special permits to visit the market, which takes place on Thursdays
Kunduli is also situated in the Korapur district of Odisha. It is home to the Paraj, Rana and Maja tribes. Kunduli organizing a very interesting market where trading can be seen in a large scale. The tribals are seen selling bangles, drums, homemade alcohol, cattle, goats and tribal jewelry here. The market commences on each Friday here and is visited by several tribals from neighbouring villages also. Kunduli is also one of the largest tribal market areas in Odisha.
Tokapal market is 23km from Jagdalpur and it is a busy yet quite a vibrant market. Several villages come to the Tokapal market on foot, in buses and even in trucks. It is a large market, so almost everything from the large ceramic pots to tiny plastic toys that of the use of villagers can be seen on sale here. Stalls of fruit and vegetables in another; clothes, rice nuts, seeds and spices can also be spotted in the market. Ghadwa tribals are often seen selling ‘bell-metal’ craftwork, which is an ancient technique where clay is moulded and is filled with melted scrap metal and then covered in wax. Tribal women can be sighted here wearing a lot of jewellery made from beads, shells, feathers, bones and metal. The women from Bhatra tribes can be distinguished by conical, gold nose studs worn by them in both sides of the nose. Villagers are also seen selling leaf bowls filled with biting red ants that can be eaten live, together with their white eggs, or thay can be mixed with chillies to make chutney called chapura.
No, it is not a rural market but it surely does make sense to put this market on this list. First, the market offers all the local produce and secondly, the market is run by women only. Although, situated in the heart of Imphal city, Khwairamband Bazaar is one of a kind and is probably the most interesting market areas in North East India. There are probably 3000 women marketeers, at the Khwairamband Bazar who sell handloom products, vegetables, fruits, fishes, cosmetics, household utensils and jewelry. The handicraft highlight found in the Khwairamband Bazar is the plaited osiers that are a specialty of the region.
Hodka is a village with a difference in Gujarat. Usually associated with Rann Utsav, this village is the reflection of the art and culture of the Banni region of Kutch. The village gets the opportunity to showcase its art, craft, dance and music during the Rann Festival held between December and March each year. One has the opportunity to witness the skill of embroidery, Leather Craft, variety of crafts such as wood work, lacquer work, copper bells, rogaan work on clothes, block printing and weaving here in Hodka. Even the colourful Bhungas done up with mirror work and paint are the highlights of the annual market.
On every Saturday and Sunday, a local market is held at Sonajhuri(Saturday) and Amader (Saturday and Sunday) in Ballabhpur Danga of the Birbhum district in West Bengal. One has the opportunity to witness the Santhali art, craft and culture here. Terracotta works, Batik, leather work, carpentry, mat weaving, broom binding and making ornaments with bena grass, date leaf, palm leaf and various kinds of seeds are sold in these haats. Even the tribal dance in the open air around fire to the rhythmic beats of the madal is displayed here on the days of the market.
There are just too many things to explore in a country like India; we can’t just barely linger in a mall looking out for a pair of sandals on sale. We must come out of our comfort zones and then we’d realize that our country is not at all a bad place to be in. If you find any of these places interesting and thinking how to go about it, then allow us to play your host.
From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a travel writer whose love for mountains can be seen in her write ups. Talk about solo travelling, indulging in adventure activities, binging on good food, planning budget trips or the Aurora Borealis and you will get all her attention. It is the wanderlust that keeps her going and if at all she could get one wish granted she would love to live a life less ordinary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.