With less than two weeks for Durga Puja, the city is already resonating with the joy this festival brings each year. The festival, to be celebrated this year from September 30 to October 4, has brought the city back to the thrills of what is commonly referred to as ‘puja shopping’. The fervour towards shopping for this joyous occasion begins with clothing, footwear and traditional gifts like trinkets, books, hampers and much more.Durga Puja is held over a five-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya's home. It is the most important festival in Bengal.
The Puja shopping season, which begins as early as August in the metropolis, plays host to great sales, discounts and introductory prices for goods.
Here’s a fascinating list of best shopping destinations for Pujas in the 'City of Joy'
New Market (SS Hogg Market)
The Victorian Gothic shopping arcade came into existence during the colonial era, and still enjoys widespread patronage. The market, a wide maze of stalls, sells every possible item that you can imagine. Goods ranging from fashionable apparel, electronic gadgets and confection to shoes, saris, exotic flower arrangements and rare food items. The Puja shopping season sees a rush of enthusiastic shoppers grabbing onto cheap and affordably priced goods. The USPs of this market of over 2000 stalls are the prices of goods, which can further be reduced with expert bargaining skills, and the warmth of the sellers. If one is in the vicinity, additionally to this market, complexes like Treasure Island and Simpark Mall are also frequently visited. 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 is specially open on Sundays for the fervent Puja shoppers.
Puja rush at New MarketStalls at New Market
Gariahat Road is a major artery in the southern part of the city which falls in the Ballygunge area, with the Gariahat shopping area being its major attraction. The Gariahat shopping area straddles the entire area from Golpark right up to the place where the flyover ends, along with the lanes and bylanes on both sides, filled with shops and stores (and restaurants too), selling an eclectic variety of clothes, jewellery, electronics, saris, furniture and much more. One cannot help but be mesmerized with the artefacts sold not only in the shops of the areabut in the makeshift stalls that flank the area as well. The mega-stores and malls like Pantaloons, Westside, Bazaar Kolkata and AC Market provide air-conditioned experiences to shoppers, with fixed prices of goods. After some heavy-duty shopping, you can satisfy those hunger pangs with the choicest of street grubs like kathi rolls, cutlets, chowmein, phuchkas, pastries and samosas, or in the comfort of any of the ever-sprouting restaurants, offering a wide variety both in terms of the type of food and the price.
Street side shops at Gariahat
Located between Ganesh Chandra Avenue Crossing and Mahatma Gandhi Road, the 1.5 km-long street houses a multitude of not only bookstores, but stores selling all manner of things. The sari seller Mohini Mohan Kanjilal is one of Kolkata’s oldest and most famous sari dealers. People living especially in the northern areas throng College Street for the festive season shopping.
Colourful junk jewellery at the markets
Hatibagan Market is a vivacious locality in north Kolkata located in close proximity to Shyambazar. It stretches from the Shyambazar-Bidhan Sarani crossing to the Bidhan Sarani-Aurobindo Sarani crossing, and a little beyond. For shoppers in the northern part of the city, Hatibagan Market is the place to go to, just like Gariahat is for the southern residents.The weekly Sunday market is also famous for the buying and selling of an eclectic variety of pets – birds, fishes, dogs, etc. A large fire in March 2012 gutted many shops, but Hatibagan has bounced back since then. Among other things, some of the finest types of silk and cotton saris preferred by Bengalis can be purchased here. In fact, it has traditionally been one of the favourite spots for mothers to stock up on their sari collection.
Pots for the ‘dhunuchi naach’ during Durga Puja being sold at Hatibagan Market
Burrabazar, in the heart of Kolkata, is one of its landmark shopping destinations. Only that it is more of a wholesale market, for a wide range of goods, though shoppers like you and me throng it too, and like many of the traditional markets, more so during the weeks preceding Durga Puja. Over the years, Burrabazar has transitioned from a predominantly yarn and textile market to one of the nation’s largest wholesale markets. There is a popular saying in Bengal, which says that for the right price you could even purchase the eye of a tiger here. Like New Market, the 25-cottah sprawling expanse of shops is divided into clusters of sub-markets according to the category of the items sold. There are four main sub-markets – Dhotipatti, Chinipatti, Fancypatti and Tulapatti. Specialized in imported electronic goods, scintillating artificial jewellery and wedding clothes, the festive season demands shopping here for its humble pricing and easy availability of items. Shoppers can also purchase Puja supplies ranging from incense and vermillion to beautifully crafted idols.
Burrabazar is home to many wholesale textile stores
Home to some of Kolkata’s finest flower shops, the stretch of Rashbehari Avenue between Rashbehari crossing and Deshapriya Park flaunts the finest stores for garments and traditional silk saris. The Lake Market area hosts shops for kanjeevaram silk saris, Bengal handloom like Tantuja, RMGC Basak and many others. Lake Mall is the most recent addition to Lake Market.
Sari Stores at Lake MarketFlower stalls at Lake Market
Malls in the city
For the young and trendy shoppers, and often also for those who prefer traditional destinations, walking around in the comfortable air-conditioned confines of malls score much higher over swimming through the heat and grime and through a stuffy crowd.The latest malls like South City Mall, Forum Mall, Quest Mall, City Centre I & II, Mani Square, Axis Mall, Metropolis Mall, Avani Riverside Mall, Diamond City Mall, DLF ‘The Galleria’, etc. and the older ones like Shreeram Arcade, AC Market, Vardaan Market, Metro Plaza, etc. are choc-a-block with eager shoppers during this time of the year. Despite being so full of people, the cooled premises make for easy shopping. Most of the top brands are available under one roof with attractive discounts. Also, food courts and restaurants set up inside the malls means no hassles for that much needed refreshment after a round of hectic shopping. Mega stores like Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop, Westside and others draw people by the hordes too.
Puja shopping rush at malls: (from top) Quest Mall, Forum Courtyard
Food for thought
With all this shopping for goodies it is the big time of the year for most stores. The same can also be said for many eating places, especially the smaller eating joints and streetside set-ups, and more so, those located at or near major shopping areas. One definitely does not forget to munch on the mouth-watering street food that Kolkata is famous for. Spoilt for choice, weary shoppers can select from kathi rolls to puchkas to cutlets as they lug their shopping bags and delve into the goodness of the city’s street foods.
Street food of Kolkata
Written by Team M3.tv