Home to the iconic Taj Mahal, the relentlessly congested and clamourous city of Agra and its hinterland host an array of superb Mughal architecture, along with vigorous bazaars.
Travel bucket list idea:
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India|
There’s likely been a bazaar here since Mughal times and its staple products are no longer merely fabrics and embroidery. These days you can find all manner of brass-ware, jewellery, marquetry and marble along with cosmetics, perfume and decorative knick-knacks. It’s popular with locals and tourists, although – fabric aside – probably not the place for high-end craftsmanship or ‘antiques’.
Getting there & doing it
Get a taxi, rickshaw or car to drop you by the Friday Mosque and you can disappear into its streets from there (though it might take some ingenuity to find your way out to the same spot).
Although it might seem a good idea to book a guide, Agra has a widespread commission racket, which can mean pressure selling at various stalls and shops where the guides get a percentage. Kinari is of a manageable size to explore independently, and this is by far the best way to do it.
Agra’s shopping touts – who direct customers into shops and thereby earn commissions – have quite a reputation. Be wary of any strangers trying to lead you into any commercial premises. It’s less likely in Kinari where friendly stallholders and shopkeepers are proffering their own wares. But anything involving a ‘short walk or drive’ should be a red flag.
Proximity to Agra Fort mean the two can easily be combined in one outing.
When to do it
The market is open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Monday and national holidays.
Mornings are usually the quietest time and, as across India generally, many shopkeepers are particularly keen to see through the first sale of the day in the belief that it augurs well for subsequent transactions. But for general atmosphere and thriving local ‘colour’, late afternoons and evenings are probably the most fun.
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