Kolkata is known for its many cheap, vibrant, and historic markets, selling an array of local and colorful goods. Here are the best ones to visit, from a flower fair filled with fragrant blooms to the largest used-books market in India.
Founded in 1874, New Market is undoubtedly one of Kolkata’s most popular and renowned markets. Even after having survived two major fires, several instances of flooding, and a century and a half of bustling activity, New Market continues to remain one of the city’s best budget-shopping attractions. Around 2,000 stores sell everything from textiles and shoes to fresh produce and local cheeses, such as Kalimpong and Bandel varieties. Plenty of historic eateries and bakeries also line the area, serving a selection of scrumptious treats. Open 11am-9pm every day of the week.
Kolkata has been one of the prime destinations for Chinese immigrants coming to India since the late 18th century and once housed a 20,000-strong Chinese Indian population. Terreti Bazaar, also known as Kolkata’s Chinatown, shows the rich role and legacy of the dwindling Chinese Indian population in the city’s food culture, from lip-smacking Indo-Chinese delicacies to Chinese medicines and herbs. The bazaar is famous for its huge variety of momos: the dumplings are steamed, fried, or deep-fried, with fillings including pork, chicken, fish, or vegetables.
While perhaps best known for its celebrated sari stores, Gariahat Market is the one-stop destination for all your shopping needs, from textiles, clothes, accessories, and shoes, to electronics and hardware. Be sure to bring your finest bargaining skills – you won’t leave disappointed! And while the area houses a range of well-known and popular restaurants, there’s also the opportunity to buy fresh seafood, meat, and produce in the market.
For books on the cheap, there’s no better place to go in the city than College Street Market, the largest used-books market in the country – and one of the largest in the world. The street isn’t just lined with a delightfully large number of bookstores – big and small, cheap and super-cheap – but it also houses many historic publishing houses that boast of Kolkata’s rich cultural heritage.
This vibrant wholesale market isn’t just one of the largest in India, but also one of the busiest. Spanning a large neighborhood in Kolkata, Burrabazar is divided into various sub-sections, depending on which commodities are being traded. From jewelry to freshly ground spices, the market trades in a rich and varied selection of goods.
Located right by Howrah Bridge, this vibrant, colorful flower fair is one of the most well known in Kolkata. Built in 1855, Mallik Ghat sources blooms from all over the country for local vendors and individual customers. One of the largest flower markets on the continent, Mallik Ghat buzzes with activity from as early as 5am and continues through to 11pm.