Like many heritage cities of India, Kolkata is also a merging of the old and the new. While South Kolkata epitomizes the modernity and glitz typical of the modern era, North Kolkata on the other hand clings onto the heritage of this city. Marked by narrow lanes, traditional Bengali homes (which are many centuries old), and the simple rustic life of North Kolkata is unique. An important part of North Kolkata are its heritage markets. Most of the markets, in the old part of Kolkata, have been making lives of Bongs simple since the colonial times. A walk through the markets, is sufficient enough to turn any person into a shopaholic. So, let us take a look at some of the iconic markets of North Kolkata.
This market ages 116 years, and is known for its shops selling varieties of silk and cotton saris. Both sides of the street along this market are filled with permanent shops and street side make shift stalls selling a wide variety of luxurious as well as everyday stuff. What’s more, you can buy trendy items at dirt cheap prices here.
- Timings: 6 AM – 10 PM
- Nearby: While shopping at this market, also care to check out the age old playhouse named Star Theatre. Star Theatre was once the cradle for Bengali theatre (drama) and has a lot of cultural history attached to it.
- Trivia: A major portion of this market was destroyed in 2012, when a fire ravaged the shops.
- Nearest metro station: Sovabazar Sutanuti
Galiff Street Pet Market
A visit to Galiff Street on a Sunday morning is a must for any pet lover. Situated only a short distance from the Shyambazar five point crossing, this is the oldest pet market in Bengal. Though there is a prohibition on the sale of many species of animals and birds in India, but at this market you can get what you can name. From colourful fishes, rare birds and uncommon pets everything is available at decent prices.
- Timings: 6 AM – 4 PM (only on Sundays)
- Tip: Bargaining is a must at this market. You would be amazed at how much you can bargain here.
- Nearby: Golbari, a restaurant known for its speciality Mutton Kosha, is only a short walking distance away from the market. The dish is delicious to tell the least!
- Nearest metro station: Shyambazar
College Street Book Market
After a day with homely pets, you can visit this huge book market. Better known as Boi Para (or Colony of Books) the College Street market made it to “Best Markets of Asia” list of Times Magazine in 2007. Though, this book market is technically placed in Central Kolkata, but its proximity to the North makes us include it in the list. A street that spans across 1.5 KM is filled with book shops on all sides. Do not go by the size or lack of decoration at the streetside stalls, they possess many books you won’t find anywhere else in India. Whether you are looking for new books, old ones, used books, they are all available in the alleys of this ancient market.
- Timings: 10 AM – 10 PM
- Note: All the shops in the market offer a flat 10% discount on most books.
- Tip: Do visit some of the old book sellers, their collection will leave you dumbfounded.
- Nearby: Do visit the Indian Coffee House, which is a Raj era cafeteria still going strong. Apart from enjoying some Adda (conversations), do care to taste their cold coffee and fish fry.
- Nearest metro station: Mahatma Gandhi Road
Mullikghat Flower Market
Popularly known as Howrah Phool Bazaar (Flower Market), it is actually situated in Kolkata. Situated below the iconic Howrah Bridge, this market dazzles the visitors with its array of colours and soothing aroma of flowers. Truckloads of flowers, belonging to various species arrive at this market every morning. Though primarily meant for wholesale flower purchases, the visitors can purchase many rare and hard to find flowers at this market at unbelievably low prices.
- Timings: 5 AM – 11 PM
- Note: As with all other wholesale markets, the rule of the thumb here is: more you buy, more savings you can get.
- Tip: To capture the true essence of this market, visit it as early in the morning as possible.
Maniktala Fish Market
Bengalis have an eternal love affair with fish. And this bustling market exemplifies that love. Do not go by the rugged old looks of this market, it is the biggest fish market in West Bengal. On any usual day you can choose from 35-40 varieties of fish, before purchasing one. Amidst the mountains of ice, which are used to keep the fish fresh, and clamour among multitudes of fish sellers this iconic market has been supplying best fish to Kolkatans from the British era. Situated near Manik Talao area, the market is the prime fish supplier of fishes during the Bengali wedding season.
- Tip: Bargaining and bulk purchases would make your purchases very profitable at the market.
- Trivia: The age old clock tower situated in the market is the star attraction here.
- Nearby: While visiting this market, do care to visit the famous Gupta’s Sweets and Snacks shop. Care to taste some hot Kachoris, Radhaballabhi and Kesaria imarati.
Happy market hopping in Kolkata!