Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Guide to market shopping in Delhi

I was recently asked to show a friend of a friend around the best markets in Delhi, which I would have done with bells on if I was going to be in the country at the time. There is nothing I love more than sharing the fun of Delhi markets with visiting friends. Seeing as I was unable to be their guide I compiled a list of markets that mostly appeal to foreigners and the best way to get around to visiting them on limited time; then I realised it would make a pretty good blog… so here it is.

Sarojini Nagar Market- Opens 11am ish. Closed Mondays
This market is all about export surplus and sample clothing even though it sells just about everything else. You can pick up lots of great brands here including ASOS, Fleur Wood, O'Neil, Billabong, Tigerlily, Zara etc. The trick is to have a good look at the pieces as there are sometimes flaws… many are easily repairable. In terms of prices you have to negotiate. Just about everything sells between 100-150Rs very occasionally you might have to pay more for say a good quality fully lined dress with lots of detail.
The key is not to act too interested. Pretend you are a little unsure and if there are flaws point them out. If you walk away they will just about always call you back and give it to you at your price.
Other good things here are the 50Rs scarf racks.
Shoes are mostly fixed price which means you might get a small discount of if you are lucky.
There are also a lot of sports stores at Sarojini. The door frame chin up bars are popular with boys.

Finding your way around Sarojini

Ask your auto driver should drop you off at the end near the fruit and veg sellers (Subzi Market). In this area bordering the market there is also a few shops that sell great cushion covers, table cloths and bed covers. On the middle of this strip there is an archway that leads into the main market. This is where the fun begins. You will see the walls covered with clothes. From here the market is an '][' shape. The best places to shop are the areas that look like caves covered with clothing. Not so much the ones that look more shop-like.
There are a few restaurants in the market that are cheap and cheerful.

Next stop Yashwant Place. Around 30Rs by auto from Sarojini
This market is all about leather, jewellery and fur (if you are into that).  I have a couple of favorite shops on the upper level that sell great leather jackets, leather bags and gloves. Sorry I can't be more specific with the shops.
Jackets start at around 2500Rs (rare) up to and over 6000Rs for a trench coat style. Gloves are around 600Rs, less if you buy a few pairs. My favorite guy is at the top of one of the two ramps on the right.
Handbags vary - 500ish for a clutch, 1000ish for a regular size bag and 2000 for something larger or with more detail. You have to find the good stuff amongst it all.
There is also a strip of restaurants here which are ok. Pick anyone they are all much the same. The Thupka is generally good.

If you still have energy head to Dilli Haat about 40Rs via auto from Yashwant.
This market is best at night (closes at 9pm). It is a very organised market that is more touristy. You have to pay a small entry fee. The stalls in this market change every two weeks but really it always feels the same. Lots of scarves, saris, jewellery, art and rugs. As always you have to negotiate.
Although not my favorite market I think it is worth a visit and it is kind of peaceful. It is a favorite with tourists who need a break from the sensory overload.
This market also has great restaurants. One for every state in India. I don't have a particular favorite, though if you like pork go to Nagaland.
Outside the market there are ladies that will try very hard to sell you Henna and Hair wraps. Not a bad place to have some henna done if you are up for it. It is about 20-50Rs for a design on one hand.

Janpath. Closed Sundays
You can get here via metro and walk from Connaught Place. Otherwise auto and I recommend starting at the Tibetan end. Don't bother showing up here before midday.
McDonald's is across the street if you need a clean bathroom and some air-conditionong.
This market starts right next to the Imperial Hotel (which does a great high tea from 3pm) The Tibetan strip sells great nick-naks and cheap jewellery. Prices are a little negotiable. The next block sells Indian clothing, Indian tourist stuff (negotiate hard), and loads of scarf shops (once again negotiate hard).
You will then reach a side street that has lots of street stalls down one side. There is some nice stuff here but prices are inflated. You should get them down to a 1/3 or sometimes less of the starting price.
Back on the main road it is more of the same, you will then reach a section which is more market style that sells clothing, cheap jewellery and sunglasses. Everything is very negotiable although this place does not seem to be as cheap as Sarojini.
Back on Janpath there are more shops selling the same old. About a hundred metres you will be at Connaught Place. If you are hungry on the block to the right there is a Subway.

Connaught Place.
All a bit same old really. Lots of western brands. One good eating place is the International Coffee House on the inner circle. Not really cheap, but they do a great apple pie with cinnamon ice-cream.
Also at Connaught Place is the underground market Palika Bazaar. I would not recommend going to this place except for one really good and cheap leather jacket shop. I think the shop number is 226. There are a few leather shops here but most are rubbish except for the one.
Palika Bazzar has lots of junky stuff , cheap electrical, fake perfumes and Beats headphones. Do not buy a USB stick here… it will not work and there is no such thing as a 250GB USB stick.

From Connaught Place you can take the metro one stop to R.K Ashram Marg and you will be at Pharganj. This is the backpackers hangout. Pharganj is all about hippie Indian style clotting, leather, Indian shoes and sandals as well as jewellery.
There are lots of beggars here… Do not fall for the 'buy my baby milk powder trick' or any of the other tricks. They will sell it back to the chemist at a loss after you are gone.

So that is the best of it.
Bear in mind Indians are masters at reading body language. They can tell if you are just off the plane or if it is your first time visiting a place. They will target you and pretend to be all helpful, try to sell you tours or take you to their shop. Interestingly I was in a shop in Pharganj with a visiting friend and the shopkeeper said to me 'you live here but your friend is new here' and it wasn't because I had been in the shop before.
I have never had people come up to me in Connaught Place and try and befriend me except for the very first time I was there. I don't know how they spot the newbie.
I think the key is to not look around as though you are trying to see where you are. You have to act like you know the place which means eyes exactly where you are going.

Have fun… I hope you find some bargains :)


skdc said...

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Brajesh Kumar said...

I am having doubt please guide me whether I should go for street shopping or online shopping.

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Sarojini market is open on monday. only the permanent shops are closed thus its less crowed and you may get good discounts.

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Angela J. said...

Nice tips to market shopping in Delhi. I never been there but it is useful to everyone who are visiting Delhi and wants to shop. But before buying from the local markets I always check online shopping sites to get the idea of prices, designs and what exactly I want. If the price is compare to low than the local market then I prefer shopping online for that particular product. Thanks for your tips.

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