Burrabazar in Kolkata
Every city has a string of markets scattered across its stretch selling wares at wholesale prices. However in Kolkata, the markets have an altogether different flavor and essence. For example, Burrabazar, a wholesale market in the midst of Kolkata and very close to Howrah is the biggest wholesale commercial hub and market in India and has expanded from a yarn and textile zone to a fully operating market specializing and being storehouse of garments, jewellery, fruits and accessories. Roughly translated as a big market aka Bara Bazar and earlier christened after Lord Shiva (Buro Bazar), the place is quite a thing to talk about and hence over centuries it came to be known as Burrabazar by the merchants who claimed it later.
Situated in Jorasanko area of North Kolkata, Burrabazar’s history is quite interesting as this area was once named Sutanuti Haat and owned by the local Bengali traders who went by the name of Setts and Basaks. They dominated the area as wholesale traders of yarn and garments and after the inception of British, their trade received a boost and some of the traders who flourished during the East India Company rule were Janardan Sett, Mukundaram Sett and Shobharam Basak. Originally spread over 500 acres back in the 1800s and 400 acres comprising of residential buildings which still stand today in ruins yet act as storehouse of wholesale garments, the market started to expand and gold merchants started setting up their business.
The market had traders of all kinds, wealthy and affluent and petty as well as average commercial traders dealing in wholesale items and commodities. Interestingly each area is dubbed as a zone or Patty or Katra (Market) dealing in various items, such as Phal Patty or Pageyapatty Street fruits market, Basta Patty selling sacks and stitched gunny bags, then jewellery and, Dhoti Patti, Chini Patty, Tula Patti and Fancy Patti so on. Every item is sold at wholesale and retail prices from blankets to garments to fruits to other wares and they are fresh and sold at unbelievable prices; rates way below market prices. Fancy sarees are a thing to look for in Burrabazar at amazingly discounted prices.
All stores which have their warehouses in Burrabazar have chain stores across the city and the place is strategically located close to Posta market and Jorabagan area with Hooghly River and Dalhousie square in its vicinity. It is spread from Strand Road running parallel to the Hooghly River till Canning Street and Chitpur road. It is easy to access Burrabazar from Harrison Road crisscrossing and also known as Mahatma Gandhi Road which is close to MG Road metro station.
There are series of old dilapidated buildings lined on two sides of Burrabazar and each of them are named after its owners like Lokenath Katra, Raja Katra, Manohar Das Katra and so on. Satyanarayan Market is a popular market in Burrabazar and the entire are becomes vibrant during Diwali and Poila Boisakh (Bengali New Year) and Haal Khaata (Akshay Tritiya) when Ganesh and Lakshmi idols are worshipped and traders distribute sweets. Makeshift stalls are set up during Diwali which sell diyas, garments and sweetmeats. You get it all here…. That’s the saying in Burrabazar.
However traffic and roadblocks are a common sight in Burrabazar as hawkers and vendors occupy almost 1/3rd of the roads to keep their wares and set up their stores whereas vehicles, carts and cycle vans keep the roads choc a bloc. Sometimes it becomes a headache to cross this 2 kilometer stretch and at peak times and office hours its takes hours. Nevertheless, Burrabazar is a mystical charm and a congregation of all sorts of people doing their business. So don’t miss out on this market on a trip to Kolkata and do collect some accessories at trivial prices.
Also see: Shopping in Kolkata