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.
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.
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 you're in the New Market area, the Kashmir Government House Emporium is one of the best places to do some souvenir shopping. However, as the name suggests, this store houses traditional art and crafts not from Bengal, but Kashmir. Nevertheless, everything on display here is worth coveting. The list of products includes the famous Pashmina shawls, Kashmiri carpets, intricately carved wooden furniture, Namda, copperware and traditional wear. And if all the beauty in this store makes you want to visit Kashmir, help is waiting under the same roof. The tour agency, which is part of the store, provides information and books about tours to Kashmir. This shop is a must-visit for those looking for cultural collectibles.
Hatibagan Market is located in the northern part of Kolkata. It is almost a 100 year old market and the favorite of the locals. Being so old, it is evident that one is sure to be impressed by the area. It is very close to Shyambazar and has a number of shopping opportunities. Shopaholics have a lot of shopping options to choose from. The items found here fit into customer’s pockets very well as all the available products are priced within the budget. Bengal is famous for its cotton and silk saris. Make sure you pick some of them while you are here. Apart from the shopping avenues, this market is also famous for its cinema halls and old theaters.
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.
Situated off Strand Road, Posta Market or Posta Bazar is just north of Central Kolkata and is surrounded by neighborhoods like Burrabazar, Jorasanko and Jorabagan. Named after the near-by Posta Ghat on the river Hooghly, Posta was once the hub for prosperous traders and merchants of Bengali origin. However, over the years it has assumed the role of a wholesale market, with the Marwari community and other immigrants forming most of its population. Traces of its former glory can be seen in the various old constructions that dot the streets of the neighborhood and this is juxtaposed with the constant market place hustle-bustle as goods are carried in and out of the place. Aluposta and Dalposta are dedicated wholesale markets for potatoes and lentils respectively and there are various other shops that sell products like salts, cereals, spices, sugar and the likes.