Shopping in Kolkata (Calcutta)

Shopping in Kolkata is diverse, with lots available from street markets to gleaming new shopping malls. There is something for every budget. If you head for the local markets and street stalls, be prepared to haggle and be prepared for crowds. Additionally, you will be constantly pestered by individuals hoping to earn a commission by leading you to a shop they have an arrangement with. Be firm.

Key areas

Central Cottage Industries Emporium, 7 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, is good for buying quality handicrafts from around India and fixed prices makes life easier. Artisana, 13 Chowringee Terrace, 1/F, was created by the Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation promoting craftworkers and weavers of India. Women's Friendly Society, 29 Park Lane, is a co-operative selling exquisitely embroidered clothing and table linen made by destitute women.

The eastern end of BB Ganguly Street, near Sealdah station, has a string of tiny jewellery stores, selling mainly very ornate gold and silver pieces. The lively Park Street has a wide range of small independent outlets, including an array of upmarket fabric and sari shops, restaurants and bookshops.

Oxford Bookstore, 17 Park Street, is one of Kolkata's best; modern and airy, with an excellent range of publications, from fiction to pictorial. It has a charming little cafe, plus regular talks and activities.

The vast Music World, 18G Park Street, has CDs and DVDs of Indian contemporary, regional and classical music, plus music from all over the world. Planet M, 22 Camac Street (Block B), is also recommended for its wide range of CDs.

Markets

New Market, Lindsay Street, has over 2,0000 shops selling clothing, jewellery, household goods, and everything else imaginable. It’s the oldest market in the city. Good for bargains, chaotic and atmospheric, with tenacious touts ready to grab you as you enter. A great place for buying fabric and there are plenty of inexpensive tailors to sew up whatever your heart desires.

Chowringhee Road, from Park Street to New Market, is lined with street sellors selling a wonderful array of items. You will need to look hard to pick up decent terracotta wares. Bertram Street Market offers leather goods, jewellery, garments and fabrics.

Shopping centres

The Dakshinapan Shopping Centre, Gariahat Road, contains dozens of government emporiums selling local goods at fixed prices, while Swabhumi, near the Hyatt Regency, is a cultural centre cum shopping plaza selling clothing and crafts. The latter is slightly twee, but there is a commendable selection of local (good value) jewellery and silk shirts. The Forum Mall, on Elgin Road, offers six floors of fashion; while City Centre mall located in Salt Lake City is a vast complex, one of the largest in the city.

Opening hours

Larger shops are usually open around 1000 to 1800. Some close for half a day on Saturday. Most are closed on Sunday, especially around Park Street.

Souvenirs

Saris, tailor-made clothes, jewellery, spices, arts and crafts, leather goods, books, CDs and DVDs are some of the most popular souvenirs found in Kolkata.

Edited by Tina Banerjee
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