In a city like Kolkata, where art and literature are a top priority, books and bookstores are regarded in high esteem. Oxford Bookstore is one of the prominent bookshops right from the Victorian period. During the British Era, the Oxford store also had toys, trinkets, silverware, photo frames and perfumes. As time went by, the brand and the bookshops radically changed and modernized to adapt to the younger generation. This shop on Park Street, on par with the name 'Oxford' that connotes quality, has an excellent collection of books and an impeccable service. From classics like 'Gone with the Wind' to the latest released titles, cds, dvds and accessories, the store has it all. It also has a computer, which allows you to check if the desired book or novel is available at the store sans any hassles. It also has a Cha Bar upstairs, where you can enjoy a cup of tea and conversations with your peers. For further details, check the website.
Haldiram's is a popular Indian brand, known mainly for its sweet and farsan products. This particular endeavor is a full-fledged food extravaganza of 80,000 square feet, keeping in line with the brand's various products. At the ground level, you can find traditional Indian sweets and namkeens (savory snacks) as well as the cake counter which has a variety of egg-less cakes. The first floor has a large food court serving Indian and Continental food. The supermarket on the second floor stores household items and also has free home delivery in areas within 5 km radius. The third and fourth levels each have 6600 square feet of banqueting facilities used for exhibitions as well as private parties. The fifth floor is dedicated to all things vegetarian. Situated close to Birla Temple, Birla Industrial & Technological Museum and Calcutta Skating Rink, this Ballygunge establishment is especially crowded during the Durga Puja season.
Started in 1874, New Market was supposed to be an enclosed shopping area reserved exclusively for English residents during the British colonial rule. The original Gothic structure was laid out by the East India Railway Company and housed prestigious names like Rankin and Company, Cuthbertson and Harper and Thacker Spink. In 1903, New Market was officially named Sir Stuart Hogg Market, honoring the then Calcutta Corporation Chairman's involvement in the project. The original covered market area was expanded over the years and the defining clock tower was introduced in the 1830s. Today, New Market includes the S.S. Hogg Market as well as the large expanse of open shopping area all around it. Taking up a major part of Lindsay Street, now Neli Sengupta Sarani, New Market includes a number of crafts stores like CCIE, Curio Crafts and Kashmir Government House Emporium, restaurants like Ralli's, Nahoums, New Karco and Aminia, and various hawkers all along the footpaths. In spite of the many malls the city now boasts of, New Market continues to see throngs of locals and tourists alike. You can find almost anything you want here and at cheap prices too, as long as you navigate the crowds and use all the possible bargaining tactics. Make sure you carry cash, as most shops in New Market do not accept credit cards. Bear in mind, this is a tiring experience for most; the claustrophobic should avoid going in the evenings and during Durga Puja season.
Burrabazar is located in central Kolkata and is the largest wholesale markets of India. It was initially a yarn and textile market which slowly entered the commercial heart of shopping. It is a market area with a number of shopping opportunities for everyone. To start with there is the Shishu Bazar, Muskan, Tulsi Boutique, Janata Shop and Paras Jewellers. It also has quite a few restaurants where you can relax after spending a hectic day in shopping. It is a very famous area in Kolkata and a very nice area to pick some authentic Bengali products. Being a textile wholesale market, lucky ones will also be able to bargain to a great extent and buy products within their budget.
If the city center has New Market, south Kolkata has Gariahat; although it does not match the New Market's popularity, it remains one of the main shopping areas in the city. If you're looking for traditional Indian wear, especially sarees, at relatively cheaper prices, this is the place to visit. A number of covered shops sell everything from electronic goods and furniture to clothes and accessories at fixed prices. But the hawkers on the pavement are the ones to turn to if you're looking for some great bargains. You can also find relatively modern establishments like the Gariahat Mall, Gariahat AC Market and a Fab India outlet on the same street. Like all good bazaars, Gariahat has a number of eateries, the most popular being Bedwin, along the way. The Gariahat fish market is considered to be the best of its kind in town. Get a local to give you a few bargaining tips before you start the shopping spree!
This is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs when in Kolkata. Situated near the Dhakuria Bridge on Gariahat Road, Dakshinapan is a large open-air shopping complex spread across two floors and a large courtyard dominates its center. While the external appearance may not be as appealing, it is only once you step inside that you will begin to notice the unique charm of the place. The only one of its kind in Kolkata, the complex houses a number of state approved handloom, handicrafts and textile emporiums which include Manipur, West Bengal, Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Kerala. Other private shops selling various items may also be found here. Saree shops like Tantuja, Roop Ganga and Handloom House Fabric and Sarees are especially popular; G-55 houses all kinds of Indian traditional folk music along with Hindi and Bengali movies. Cane furniture, carpets, embroidered goods, leather items, traditional folk art and religious idols are just some of the things that Dakshinapan is known for. Shopkeepers may try to convince you that theirs is a 'fixed price' establishment, but you can bargain on almost anything available here; just use a little subtlety. Various eateries help keep the energies high: Dolly's Tea Shop and Rajendra's are some of the favorites. Event venues like Madhusudan Mancha and Children Little Theater only add to Dakshinapan's popularity. To accommodate the constant flow of shoppers, there is a large parking space available.
If the thought of books makes you smile, this lane is going to lead to some serious excitement! Listed under 'Famous Landmarks of India' by Time magazine in 2007, this street is lined with books, books and more books. Considering that Presidency College, Hindu School and Calcutta University are located here, there is an abundance of research materials, school textbooks and study journals available at regular prices, but students who can't afford it can always choose to photocopy entire books or required pages. However, for those who wish to find great bargains on various fiction and non-fiction titles, there is no better place than here in all of Kolkata; just make sure you put your negotiation skills to the test. Second-hand bookshops sell everything from classics, rare titles as well as recent additions. In fact, if you're unable to find what you want, the shopkeepers would be more than happy to order it for you! This place is always abuzz with youngsters, college groups and tourists alike. The book shops shut down by five, after which you can walk to the famed Indian Coffee House for a steaming cup of coffee as you browse through your bargains.
Although the street may not look like it understands technology, Chandni Chowk Market is the place for gadget shopping in Kolkata. The ambiance is that of any busy Indian market, and you can choose to step into one of the little shops or browse the thelas (open stalls) that line the footpath. Whether it's amplifiers, hi-fi systems or computer components that you're looking for, this is where you will find them, cheap and easy. Audiophiles of all ages can be found roaming the narrow streets in search for the perfect gadget. Just make sure you master the art of bargaining before you enter here. As it is the case with most street shopping, quality is never guaranteed but it seems to work for many, nevertheless.
Nahoum and Sons may not have the classy decor nor does it flash its advertisements in the local dailies, but it has withstood competition from many new and old bakeries in the town for over a hundred years. This Jewish confectionery, located within the New Market, is a family-owned establishment that has been passed down from one generation to the next. Not much has changed at Nahoum's since its opening, and even the display-cases, decor fixtures and cash-registers here remain the same. The delectable snacks and mouth-watering desserts served here have loyal patrons lining up for their share of goodies. Gorge on the plum cake and brownies and you won't be able to resist a second helping. Amid the chaos, the staff patiently attends to the myriad of customers. So if you are in the mood to relish mutton samosas coupled with tasty sweets, this small bakery is the place to be.
Maidan Market is a very famous shopping area that has a number of different shops for all your needs. The shops comprise of branded as well as non-branded products. It is a busy area where people in large numbers come on a regular basis. The peak days are Saturday and Sunday where you can see an enthusiastic crowd shopping for themselves or their loved ones. It is an all in one market where you can find stores featuring sports gear, clothing, shoes and sandals for all age groups. Products are available for men as well as for women. Tourists visiting Kolkata should definitely visit Maidan Market and pick up something interesting to take back home.