Kolkata Shopping Guide – Top 10 Shopping Destinations
All kudos to its low cost of living, Kolkata is infamous for being one of the cheapest cities in India. Hence, it is only natural that shopping in Kolkata would be the most appropriate thing to do. Its strategic location as a significant trade corridor and metro in the east, coupled with its cosmopolitan status, has made it a lucrative haven for traders, shop owners and international retail brands to ply their trade here. The British were among the first to set up shopping arcades in the city. A novel case in point being New Market, which till today enjoys a widespread patronage among Kolkata’s shopper-holics. The authentic Indian markets of Burrabazar and Gariahat have also retained their patronage and bargaining culture. In the last decade or so, the city has been inundated with a multitude of American style shopping malls, which echo the demand for Kolkata’s consumer driven society. As an avid shopper, you are bound to be floored by the sheer variety of goods, consumer durables and commodities available in the markets and malls of the city. Here are the top 10 Kolkata shopping destinations.
New Market of Kolkata
Shopping in the city of joy has forever been synonymous with New Market (S S Hogg Market), a Victorian Gothic shopping arcade which came into existence during the colonial era and still enjoys widespread patronage today. A heritage site in its own right, New Market is comprised of a wide labyrinth of stalls, selling every conceivable item that you can imagine. Amid the bustling chaos of shoppers and vendors you will find an incredible array of goods ranging from fashionable apparel, electronic gadgets and confection to shoes, saris, exotic flower arrangements and rare cheeses. The USP of New Market is its cheap and affordable prices, which can be further reduced depending upon your bargaining skills. Shoppers can take their pick from over 2000 stalls that are grouped in blocks according to the goods being sold. Hence, navigating your way through the numerous rows and stalls is never a problem. And if you find yourself lost in the maze of shops, help is always at hand in the form of coolies who also double as guides. New Market was constructed in 1874 by the Calcutta Corporation and catered exclusively to Kolkata’s British residents. Then in 1903, it was rechristened as Sir Stuart Hogg Market and later just Hogg Market. However, the name “New Market”, eventually proved to be its most enduring moniker and the name has stuck ever since. Some of the notable shops that have continued to exist since the early 1900’s include the iconic Jewish confectioners Nahoum & Sons, who are renowned for their delectable rich plum cakes, brownies, macaroons, pastries and marzipans. For resplendent saris and other Indian finery head to the Bombay Silk House, Dayaram & Co and Ghanashyam. New Market is located on Lindsay Street and remains open from 10 am to 8 pm on weekdays and until 2:30pm on Saturdays. It remains closed on Sundays; although you might spot a few shops open if you are lucky.
Gariahat Market of Kolkata
Gariahat Road is a major artery in south Kolkata and falls under the Ballygunge area. It unites Ballygunge Phari with Prince Anwar Shah Road and continues all the way up to Raja SC Mullick road. One of its major attractions is the massive Gariahat shopping area, which spans a long stretch of restaurants, shops and stores selling an eclectic variety of clothes, jewellery, electronics, saris, furniture and even pets. Walking down this long serpentine road, one cannot help but be mesmerized by the sheer variety on display in the shops and makeshift stalls that flank the area. The objective was to recreate the great Indian bazaar experience for shoppers. Just like New Market, the goods and items in Gariahat are reasonably priced allowing shoppers plenty of scope for bargaining. In the recent past, several mega-stores and malls have sprung up in the area including Mukti World mall, Gariahat AC market and Gariahat mall, which provide an American style shopping mall experience with fixed prices. After some heavy duty shopping you can refuel your system with the choicest grub from the slew of restaurants and food stalls that line the area, serving up a repertoire of kathi rolls, cutlets, chowmein, phuchkas, pastries and samosas.
College Street of Kolkata
With an area occupying nearly a million sq. feet comprised entirely of book stalls, central Kolkata’s College Street is a dream haven for bibliophiles. Located between Ganesh Chandra Avenue Crossing and Mahatma Gandhi Road, the 1.5 km long street is dotted with a multitude of bookstores, giving it its endearing nickname Boi Para. The street is also home to many of the major players in the Bengali publication industry, including the likes of Ananda Publishers, Dey’s Publishers, Abhijan Publishers and many more. The palpable atmosphere of College Street is best summarized by an article in the Smithsonian journal, which described it as a “half mile of bookshops and bookstalls spilling onto the pavement”. Here book lovers will find a treasure trove of first editions at discounted prices, paperbacks in Indian languages, pamphlets and obscure out of print books from Europe and Russia. The USP of College Street is that you can find rare books at throwaway prices. It is also the world’s largest second hand book market. Given its cerebral lineage, the street has been a rendezvous point for the city’s intellectuals since its inception. One such landmark with oodles of nostalgic value is College Street’s Indian Coffee House, where Kolkata’s intellectuals congregate and engage in vapid discussions over steaming cups of coffee and mouth watering snacks.
Flower Market of Kolkata
The Mallikghat Flower Market sited at the east end of Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge offers a sensory overload of dizzying colors and mellifluous aromas. The place is colloquially known as the Howrah Phool Bazaar to locals. Truckloads of flowers from all across India are brought here and sold by venders everyday. The wholesale market offers a sensational selection of roses, lilies, gladiolas, tuberoses, orchids, gerbera and many other flowers. Although a photograph of this delightful spectacle could be worth a million bucks, clicking one is strictly prohibited. However, it is possible to capture a discreet shot while abode one of the many ferries that sashay across the Hooghly river. The bustling Flower Market, coupled with the throng of daily commuters, railway porters, family vacationers and tea vendors with the imposing Howrah bridge in the backdrop, conjure up a quintessential image of Kolkata that is not to be missed!
Hatibagan Market of Kolkata
Hatibagan is a pulsating neighborhood in north Kolkata and was the former hub of the city’s pet business. The area falls under the jurisdiction of the Burtalla and Shyampukur police stations. The area is located in close proximity to Shyambazar. The market place was most famous for selling an eclectic variety of birds and animals, until a fire broke out in 2012, gutting a large segment of the market. Despite the catastrophe, Hatibagan’s myriad shops, stalls and cinema halls still retain their popularity. The Star Theatre is one of Hatibagan’s greatest attractions, which screens the latest movies at reasonable prices, making it a unanimous hit among locals. The area also houses one of the oldest traditional markets in the city’s illustrious history, which is a little more than a century old. Some of the finest Bengali silk and cotton saris can be purchased here. Hatibagan made history during World War II when an un-detonated bomb was dropped here by the Japanese. The etymology of the place stems from the Bengali words hati meaning elephant and bagan meaning garden.
South City Mall of Kolkata
South City Mall is a state of the art shopping arcade in Kolkata. As the name suggests, the mall is located in the southern section of the city on Prince Anwar Shah Road. It is very close to the south Kolkata suburbs of Jodhpur Park, Golf Green, Lake Gardens and Dhakuria. The megalithic structure spans a shopping area of 1,000,000 sq ft and a vehicle parking capacity of 1,800, making it the largest shopping mall in Eastern India. South City Mall is the collective brainchild of Kolkata based architect Dulal Mukherjee and retail bigwigs ICS Bentel Associates. Shopaholics can take their pick from a plethora of international as well as national retail brand outlets that have set up shop within the mall. The shopping arcade is anchored by a triad of major retail stores which include Pantaloons, Shopper’s Stop and Spencer’s Retail. Around 134 stores occupy the premises, offering a sensational variety of branded goods and products. Situated on the top floor is a food court where shoppers can dig into a sinfully decadent array of fast food, confectionery and refreshments. Additionally, movie buffs can catch the latest Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters at the Fame Cinemas multiplex, also located within the mall.
Mani Square Shopping Mall of Kolkata
Located on the Manicktala main road is the statuesque Mani Square mall. The shopping complex houses over 250 retail establishments and entertains over 2,000 customers per day. The mall is the property of the Mani group and spans a surface area of more than 710,000 square feet. Mani Square opened its doors to the public on 15th June 2008. The prominent brands that have made a big splash with visitors include E Zone, McDonalds, Amoeba, West Side and Scary House. The mall has also witnessed the rise in patronage of international retail heavyweights such as Adidas, Dockers, Lee Cooper, Levis and United Colors of Benetton. After an exhausting shopping spree, shopaholics can recharge their batteries with a wide array of fast food, refreshments and even fine dining options. These include McDonalds, Biscotti, Flame N’Grill, Cookie Man, Aqua Java, Mozzarella, Haka and more. The mall is packed on weekdays, enjoying an average footfall of 30,000 to 35,000 people on any given day. Since its inception, Mani Square has become a popular haunt for many Tollywood celebrities and starlets, who can be seen shopping at the various outlets. The mall has 11 escalators and a basement floor occupied by retail giant Spencer’s.
City Centre 1 Shopping Mall of Kolkata
City Centre is a shopping mall that is located in Kolkata’s Salt Lake township. It is a twin mall of the Forum chain that has outlets spread across other parts of the city. The mall is sited on five acres of land, covering 42 thousand square feet of shopping and entertainment space. The retail outlets in City Centre have something for everyone, thus catering to a wide demographic of customers. The entire building consists of the mall, the Cineplex, the Plaza Blocks, The Residency, The Tower and a magnificent fountain known as the Kund, stationed at the centre of the complex. With its affordable shopping and entertainment options, glitzy departmental stores, enticing coffee shops and restaurants and glamorous boutiques, City Centre has become a microcosm of sorts for the people of Kolkata who make a beeline to the mall in large numbers.
Avani Riverside Shopping Mall near Kolkata
The magnificent spires of the Avani Riverside Mall, looming large over the placid waters of the Hooghly are a sight reminiscent of the French Riviera. Located close to the 2nd Hooghly Bridge and overlooking the waterfront, the breathtaking structure can be visible from far and wide. And if its splendid exteriors aren’t riveting enough, its surreal interiors are bound to floor your senses. It is undoubtedly an architectural marvel that has captivated the hearts and wallets of Kolkata’s shopaholics. The state of the art mall covers an expansive 600,000 square feet area and is equipped with all the modern amenities and facilities that could rival other shopping malls. Within its premises, you will find some of the world’s most celebrated retail brands. The inception of the Avani Mall was a pioneering feat of sorts. It is the first ever mega mall established in the Howrah district and the first of its kind in eastern India to install a multi-screen PVR to deliver a cinematic experience like never before. Reliance’ flagship offerings – TDIT, Reliance Trends and Timeout have established flourishing stores within the mall. Shoppers can find an entire gamut of items ranging from consumer durables to clothing, books and DVD’s all under one roof. The mall also includes several avant-garde stores and kiosks that offer offbeat and quirky goods and items. Avani Riverside Mall is also notable for having the largest food court in east India. Foodies can pick from a wide selection of American, Italian, Chinese, Mexican and Indian restaurants.
Burrabazar Market of Kolkata
If you really want to witness the true fervor of Kolkata during the pujas, head to Burrabazar, one of the city’s most nostalgic landmark shopping institutions. Located close to Mahatma Gandhi Road metro station, Burrabazar has transitioned over the years from a predominantly yarn and textile market into one of the nations largest wholesale markets. Its sheer enormity and size translates into an equally wide assortment of goods and items to the delight of shoppers. There is a popular saying, which says that for the right price you could even purchase the eye of a tiger here. Every conceivable item that you can imagine can be purchased in Burrabazar. Like New Market, this sprawling expanse of shops is divided into clusters of sub-markets according to the category of items being sold. There are four main sub-markets – Dhotipatti, Chinipatti, Fancypatti and Tulapatti. The other categories include chowks, katras and kothis. A total of 25 katras occupy the area, wherein each deals with a particular item. The katras have existed since medieval times. A prime example being the Raja katra, which was originally the property of the Maharaja of Bardhaman. The shops constituting the Raja katra are renowned for their spices. For hardware and textiles, head to Manohar Das katra. Khangrapatti and Vikram Chand market specialize in imported electronic goods and scintillating artificial jewelry. During the festive season, the area around Kalakar street comes alive with song, dance and mouth watering laduus, a golden colored round shaped sweet meat. Shoppers can also purchase puja paraphernalia ranging from incense and vermillion to beautifully crafted idols.