By Aparna Mitra
Durga Puja is just round the corner and we all know what that means – a long list of shopping to complete. This is one time of the year, when the markets of Kolkata are the busiest and most crowded places in the entire state. If it is a weekend, you will require special skills to navigate your way through these markets. In the growing encroachment of malls and shopping arcades, these age-old markets of Kolkata have still managed to retain their glories. For a feel of true Calcutta, let’s take a tour through the iconic markets of Kolkata.
Dakshinapan Shopping Centre
This complex is a one-stop destination for a diverse range of genuine handlooms, textiles and handicrafts from all states of India. With a peripheral array of shops overlooking a central courtyard, Dakshinapan is a double-storied building. Shops here come with a fixed price tag, but their authenticity and variety is the USP. This market caters to ethnic products ranging from jootis, jewellery, leather goods, finely carved wooden and cane furniture etc. If you want to take back souvenirs from any state of India this is your destination to go shopping. In addition to this, cultural events frequently held at the nearby Madhusudan Mancha, attracts people of all age groups. Owing to the open-air design, shopping in this complex is quite relaxing.
- Address: 2, Gariahat Road, Dhakuria
- Landmark: Dhakuria Flyover, Madhusudan Mancha.
- Timings: Dakshinapan Shopping Centre is open through Tuesday – Saturday from 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM, Monday 2:00 PM to 7:30 PM. It remains closed on Sundays.
- Nearest Metro Station: Rabindra Sarovar (3 KM away)
- Nearest Railway Station: Dhakuria Railway Station (2 KM away)
This is the lifeline of modern day shoppers looking for trendy stuff at throwaway prices. Covering a large area from Gariahat More to Rashbehari Avenue, this market spans across the narrow footpaths to offer an inexhaustible sea of shops. When you are shopping here, you should be ready to walk to explore more choices. Here bargaining is at its crowning glory. The thumb rule is to start at half the price quoted. Approximately 70% of products on display are garments, but a potpourri of footwear, junk jewellery, bags, crockery does attract shoppers. It is advisable to cross-check with adjacent stalls selling similar stuff before you finally buy. There are showrooms dedicated to traditional saris and textiles, overlooking the streets stalls. Gariahat is home to many branded, precious – jewellery outlets too.
- Address: Rashbehari Avenue, Ballygunge Gardens
- Landmark: Mukti world Mall
- Timings: Gariahat Market is open through Monday – Saturday from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. It remains closed on Sundays.
- Nearest Metro Station: Kalighat (2.2 KM away)
- Nearest Railway Station: Ballygunge Junction (2.6 KM away)
New Market (Hogg’s Market)
Come Lindsay Street, and the huge Clock tower atop the brick-red building confirms our arrival at New Market. Fondly referred as Hogg’s Market, it has served many decades of fashion. Though it started out as a market meant strictly for the British families, today it has become a part of Kolkata’s culture. Owing to its variety in showcasing the latest fashion trends, this market enlivens during Christmas and Durga Puja. Shops constitute the frontal segment of the building, only to hide an age-old slaughter house. Within this ancient arcade, one can get quality products ranging from garments, bags, leather goods, electronic items, imitation jewellery etc. Speciality of this market is the Kalimpong cheese and Bandel Cheese sold exclusively here. Again, this is a bargaining paradise, so bargain your heart out to get the best deals. Tourists can be escorted by ‘Coolies’ who can take you through the crowded places. But beware of touts without badges.
- Address: Lindsay Street, New Market Area, Dharmatala
- Landmark: Indian Museum, Sapphire Suites.
- Timings: New Market is open through Monday – Saturday from 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM. Sundays are closed.
- Nearest Metro Station: Esplanade (1 KM away)
College Street Market
Kolkata’s love for books is reflected at College Street or Boi Para (as nicknamed by Kolkatans). The market comprises of a 1.5 km stretch of book stalls and famous publishing houses. Masked with a rustic look, the book stalls treasure the rarest of books one would hunt for. Books of all genres, new or second hand are available here. It’s a trend to bargain here, as second-hand books are sold at dirt cheap prices. Moreover, College Street serves as the best platform to sell books at good prices too. Being credited as the world’s largest second-hand book market and India’s largest book market, it is indeed a pride for Indians and Kolkatans. It serves as a hotspot for intellectual discussions, as renowned educational institutes share its neighborhood. Historically acclaimed, College Street has witnessed many socio-political activities. But hold on, we are not asking you to buy books alone. Close by are many legendary shops selling traditional sarees of Bengal. From pure silk to cotton and tant sarees, you can have them all here.
- Address: College street stretches from Ganesh Chandra Avenue Crossing at Bowbazar area to Mahatma Gandhi Road Crossing.
- Landmark: Indian Coffee House, Presidency University.
- Timings: College Street is open Monday – Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM. It remains closed on Sundays.
- Nearest Metro Station: Mahatma Gandhi Road (1 KM away)
- Nearest Railway Station: Sealdah (1.5 KM away)
Kolkata’s largest wholesale market, Burra Bazaar is one which has its roots from the British reign. Initially a yarn and textile market, it has evolved as the trading junction for traders within West Bengal and outside the state. Howrah being close facilitates easy trading. Though it is meant only for large scale purchasing, but many shopping enthusiasts do visit Burra Bazar in search of rarest stuff in Kolkata. Wedding shopping for Kolkatans is not complete without a visit to this market. Shopping in this market equates to loads of walking. The rule of thumb at this bazaar is: higher the quantity of purchases, lesser is the cost.
- Address: Burra Bazaar
- Landmark: Mahatma Gandhi Road.
- Timings: Burra Bazaar is open Monday – Saturday from 10:30 AM to 8:00 PM. Sundays are closed.
- Nearest Metro Station: Mahatma Gandhi Road (1.1 KM away)
- Nearest Railway Station: Howrah Junction (1.7 KM away)
Mall Hopping in Kolkata
Apart from these traditional markets, the modern Kolkatans also visit shopping malls that have come up in the city. With their pleasant air conditioned atmosphere, buzzing ambience and rows of branded shops, the modern generation likes to shop in these glamorous places. So, which are the leading malls in Kolkata?
- City Centre Mall, Salt Lake
- South City Mall, Jadavpur
- City Centre 2 Mall, Rajarhat
- Mani Square, EM Bypass
- Avani Riverside Mall, Howrah
So, bring out the shopaholic in you and venture on a shopping spree!