5 Amazing Shopping Places To Visit In Kolkata
Who would not like to have the opportunity of shopping their hearts out on their trip to Kolkata? The beautiful city of Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state in West Bengal. Its strategic location paves way for a significant trade corridor in the east and this has made it a lucrative haven for shop owners, traders, and international retail brands to ply their trade-in here. Coupled with its cosmopolitan status, it now plays quite an imperative role in local and international trade. The British were among the first ones to initiate the set-up of these shopping arcades in the city whilst the traditional Indian markets have also maintained 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 truly reflects volumes of Kolkata’s consumer-driven society.
When visiting or traveling by default you tend to look for mementos to take back home for yourself and your friends and family. These items can range from sweets to magnets something that reminds you of your time in that particular city. The bustling market lanes surrounding Kolkata- the city of joy offer every traveller the opportunity to get something that wants.
As an avid shopper, you are bound to be floored by the eclectic variety of goods, consumer durables, and commodities available in the markets and malls of the city. As the adage goes, shopping is something that one can go about the task all day long given the time and resources. While one can make time to go shopping, limited finances could be the restraining factor. But how great it would be if you could already know where to shop for the best and yet save up a few bucks? To fetch answers to queries like what to buy in Kolkata, read on to figure out. And that’s why here is a list of such thrilling places where shopping in Kolkata can be explored.
5 Best Markets To Visit In Kolkata
1. The College Street
With a spread occupying over a million square feet comprised entirely of innumerable lanes of bookstalls, Kolkata’s College Street is a dream haven for bibliophiles. If you have a soft inclination for books, well then this is your go-to. Sandwiched between Ganesh Chandra Avenue Crossing and Mahatma Gandhi Road, this 1.5-kilometer street is dotted with a multitude of bookstores, owing to an endearing nickname of ‘Boi Para’. Enveloped by an amicable atmosphere, this street is best summarized by an article in the Smithsonian journal, which describes it as a “half-mile of bookshops and bookstalls spilling onto the pavement”. Being a treasure trove of paperbacks in Indian languages, pamphlets, and obscure print books from Europe and Russia and some of the first editions of unpublished works at discounted prices.
The USP of College Street is that you can find the rarest of rare books at just throwaway prices. This place also holds the honour of being the world’s largest second-hand book market. As the bazar name suggests, this place mainly targets college students as they get plenty of options to select from a wide avenue of bookstalls. This place mainly offers some of the old books that cannot be found anywhere else in Kolkata. For an added touch of nostalgia, drop into the Indian Coffee House opposite Presidency College, which is said to be one of the oldest historic restaurants of the country, dating back to 1942. Given its cerebral lineage, it is where Kolkata’s intellectuals congregate and engage in vapid discussions over steaming cups of coffee and lip-smacking snacks.
2. The Gariahat Market
Take a walk down the Gariahat Road, which thrives to be a major artery in south Kolkata connecting Ballygunge Phari with Prince Anwar Shah Road and continues all the way up to Raja SC Mullick road. One of the massive attractions of this place is the Gariahat shopping area, which spans a long stretch of restaurants, shops and stores selling a diverse variety of crockery items, home décor, wind chimes, readymade garments to fabrics and materials, bedspreads, pillow covers, blankets, woolens, electronic goods jewellery, electronics, sarees, furniture, and many such things to buy in Kolkata. Furthermore, it also has special pet shops that render you the facility of adopting one!
As you traverse through this long serpentine road, you cannot help but be mesmerized by the colossal variety on display in the shops and makeshift stalls that flank the area. The prime objective was to recreate the great Indian bazaar experience for shoppers. It is a real treat for those who have the time to browse through the stalls yet not let loose their pockets. Lately, several mega-stores and malls have sprung up in the area including Mukti World Mall, Gariahat AC Market, and Gariahat Mall, which provide a beautiful culmination of tradition and modernity. The sights seen in this busy marketplace is phenomenal with all the interesting items hanging out of the stores and on top of that the glittery lights cast a dancing shadow on the road upon which they flank.
The place is vehemently popular for its street food as well. You will get a taste of Kolkata in as little as INR 100. There are also a bunch of restaurants and food stalls so one can sneak in and grab a quick bite between shopping sprees that serve up a repertoire of Kathi rolls, cutlets, chowmein, phuchkas, pastries, samosas, and the rest lies on you to discover.
3. Howrah Phool Bazaar
A jovial celebration of colours and aromas, the Howrah Phool Bazaar is a flower market that sits on the east side of the erstwhile and iconic Howrah Bridge. If you too are in need to buy flowers for any of your occasions and are looking for the best place where you can get a huge variety of flowers then this flower market of Kolkata is your destination. This whole seller marketplace for flowers has a large variety of flowers and offers a sensational selection of roses, lilies, gladiolas, tuberoses, orchids, gerbera, and many other flowers, that too at an affordable price. Truckloads of flowers from all across India are brought here and sold by vendors every day providing a sensory overload of dizzying colours and mellifluous aromas.
Though a photograph of this delightful spectacle could be worth a million bucks, nevertheless clicking one is strictly prohibited here. This busy Flower Market, coupled with the throng of daily commuters, railway porters, family vacationers, and tea vendors with the imposing Howrah Bridge in the backdrop, conjures up a quintessential image of Kolkata that is not to be missed under any circumstance.
If you are looking for the hub of fresh flowers in Kolkata, this is where you should head without a second thought. It is where flowers reach in bulk before they are transported to local markets and boutiques where the price is almost doubled and in some cases even more than that. Whether you are a retailer or florist or wish to get flowers for a special occasion at home or your workplace, a visit to this flower market is a visual treat and the best option.
The etymology of the place stems from the Bengali words, ‘hati’ that refers to an elephant and ‘bagan’ meaning garden. A pulsating neighbourhood in north Kolkata, which used to be the market that would sell exotic birds and pets in Kolkata until a fire in 2012 turned things unseemly. This place left an indelible print in the pages of history when an un-detonated bomb was dropped here by the Japanese, during World War II. It rose from the ashes and is now back in business with some shops that are more than a century old, and shops selling the rarest and finest of Indian silk sarees at incredible prices. One of Hatibagan’s greatest attractions here is The Star Theatre, 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.
5. New Market
What came into being in the turn of the year 1874 was the New Market, which emerged as a prominent shopping destination to cater to the needs of the British residents in India. It was under the expertise of the Calcutta Corporation that New Market was born – which has as of now grown into, perhaps, the most beloved shopping arcade in the City of Joy. It was then renamed as Sir Stuart Hogg Market in the year 1903 and then later again to Hogg Market. The first of its kind in the state of Bengal, it is a Victorian gothic shopping arcade, which proved its existence during the colonial era and still enjoys widespread patronage today.
Well, simply put, the place is rightly summarized as a maze with shops selling anything and everything that one can ever imagine. There’s a saying that it’s possible to buy everything from a needle to an elephant in New Market. Ranging from things to buy in Kolkata like daily use products to clothes, footwear, fashion jewelry to precious metals and stones, cosmetics, toiletries, electronic gadgets to toys; convenience stores that stock food items, shops that deal with baby products; an entire section dedicated to the selling of rare and exotic flowers, currency exchange booths, a range of shops that sell dry fruits and such products, to some very old yet world renowned confectioneries like Nahoums.
Owing over 4,000 stalls and 27 entrances, the best part of this market is its cheap and affordable prices, which can be further reduced depending upon your bargaining skills. It can actually be difficult to find your way around without a guide, even though the market is laid out in distinct sections. You can hire them on a nominal fee basis, however, they might end up approaching you on their own. Just be prepared for the crowds! It’s massive! If you look through all the items, you may find some wonderful terracotta wares, which are a Kolkata speciality.
Now that was a small glimpse of some of the best places to experience shopping in Kolkata. Make sure to take some time out to just visit some of these marketplaces and explore the multitude of local and global goods on display here. Dive right into the world of discoveries and let the magic begin. This upcoming holidays, plan your trip and thank us later!
P.s. You might like these related resources:
- Best time to visit Kolkata-The City of Joy
- Historical Places in Kolkata that Will Impress You
- 13 famous tourist attractions in Kolkata that you can’t afford to miss
Preeti Asri is a SEO Consultant in India. She has a hands-on experience of more than 10 years in SEO. It’s her passion to help online SMEs grow their business. Because she believes that her career graph is directly proportional to how much her clients’ businesses grow organically.