Shopping in Chennai (Madras)
From a plethora of new, fast-rising shopping malls to chaotic and colourful street markets, Chennai has plenty to offer the avid shopper and souvenir-hunter.
George Town is the wholesale area of Chennai, where you can find everything from paper and textiles to cosmetics and decorations. The streets are an atmospheric place to wander around. If searching for souvenirs, the Victoria Technical Institute, 765 Anna Salai, a government outlet promoting high-quality Indian handicrafts (with artists receiving a share of the profits), has a wide range of fixed price arts and crafts. SIPA'S Craftlink, 70 Kodambakkan High Road, Nungambakkam, is an artisan's collective and fair trade craft shop.
For quality fabric including raw and hand-spun silks, Nalli Silks , 9 Nageswaran Road, is recommended. Higginbothams, 814 Anna Salai, is an institution, a huge bookshop with a vast selection of English-language titles.
The small stalls and shops lining Sir Thyagaraya Nagar Road, known as Pondy Bazaar, have an array of great fabrics, cheap clothes and jewellery, plus the divine smell of jasmine from the colourful flower stalls. Burma Bazaar is renowned for its electronic goods, while Mint Street is laden with kitchenware, textiles and jewellery.
Shopping malls are springing up fast and furiously in Chennai, transforming everyone's shopping habits. Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai, is a massive mall with everything from clothes, cosmetics and shoes to household items, CDs, and souvenirs. On the second floor, Fabindia offers top quality handmade textiles (from garments to cushion covers) with lovely contemporary designs. There are government emporia from many states along Anna Salai. Nearby is the gigantic Express Avenue Mall, Club House Road, which claims to be the largest of its kind in southern India and has over 200 stores.
Other top shopping centres in the city include: Arimbami Mega Mall, Fountain Plaza, the Gold Souk Grand Mall and Century Plaza.
Shops and bazaars opening times vary, but most open daily from around 0900-1030 until 2000-2100 (some places close on Sunday).
Pick up arts and crafts, jewellery, woodwork, leatherware, silks, textiles, sarees, electronic goods, books, furniture and homeware.