Bengaluru is a unique shopping destination. At one time the city was known for its silks, sandalwood, handicrafts, traditional jewellery, and saris. In the past few years though it has emerged as a city with modern shopping options. And so, on one hand, you have high street brands and malls like the UB City while on the other you have busy marketplaces like Chickpet and Malleshwaram and in between, you have all possible kinds of wares — from traditional brass and bell metal lamps and figurines to colourful Channapatna toys and elegant silk and Kanjeevaram sarees. To experience any city you must experience its bazaars — and Bengaluru has many traditional ones specialising in everything from flowers to jewellery.
1. Commercial Street
Set up in the 18th century by the British, modelled and named after a similar shopping street in London, Commercial Street goes way back into Bengaluru's colonial history. Surrounded by the army Cantonment, which was inhabited by the British back then, the market was also reserved only for the British and their families on some days of the week. The place has come a long way since the kerosine lamp and horse carriage days and is now one of the busiest places in the city. It is also the best place in the city to buy fabric, saris, traditional crafts, silver jewellery, trinkets, and women swear by the tailors here. Streets diverging from the main Commercial Street offer a wide variety of bargains from home furnishings to export surplus garments. While here, a bite at Woody’s or a slice of raw mango from the hawkers is a must.
2. Brigade Road-MG Road
The beating heart of Bengaluru and its commercial centre, MG and Brigade are synonymous with widow shopping, evening walks, and tourists. No traveller to Bengaluru can return without spending an evening here. Locals meanwhile can be found at its adjacent lanes and streets like Church Street, Museum Road, Residency Road. MG Road is a great place for souvenir shopping, it has some old book and sari shops and many classic eateries. Blossoms at Church Street and Higginbotham’s at the main MG road are Mecca for book lovers while Cauvery Emporium offers Karnataka’s most authentic crafts and arts.
3. KR Market
Established back in 1900, KR market is named after Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, a former ruler of the princely state of Mysore. It is said that before the concrete market was built here there was a battlefield that served the Anglo-Mysore war. Located in the southern part of the city, today it is known to be not only Bengaluru's but India’s largest fresh flower market. An early morning walk to the place is ideal since you witness thousands of fewer vendors and hundreds of varieties of flowers, vendors, traders, and locals. While here you can also walk to Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace which is adjacent to the marketplace.
Once upon a time,one-stop-shop Chickpet was Bengaluru's oldest residential area, Chickpet is now the city’s busiest textile hub. It is believed that the area developed in the 16th century, the old city was then called Pete and chickpet literally meant the small town. Dodda Pete, another neighbourhood, was the larger one. Different streets of the market are dedicated to different products and one finds almost everything in this maze. When in Chickpet, it is a good idea to visit its many temples. Ranganathaswamy Temple, Ram Mandir, Shri Adinath Jain Shwetamber Mandir, and Maramma Devi Temple are among the most important ones.
You may know Malleshwaram for its fancy malls or at best for CTR, the Benne Dosa joint, but Malleshwaram is also one of Bengaluru's oldest markets. Once a forest, the market, close to the famous Sankey Tank and old shady residential neighbourhood, is a one-stop-shop for food, grocery and puja needs. The market offers fresh grain, flowers, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and fresh flowers and amasses large crowds around the wedding and festival season.
Bengaluru's favourite stores
1. Blossoms Book House: A haven for book lovers located off the busy Brigade Road on Church Street, Blossoms Book House is the city’s favourite book shop. You can spend hours browsing through its titles and can lay your hands and some of the most unique books.
Add. 84/6 Church Street.
2. Mysore Saree Udyog: A sparkling saree store located by Commercial Street, Mysore Saree Udyog is a one-stop shop for all your fabric needs. From the most traditional sarees in traditional weaves to the most modern designs and prints, and fabrics in silks, cottons, chiffons and lace, the store has it all.
Add. 316, 1st Floor, K Kamaraj Road.
3. Angadi Galleria: Famously known as the shop from where Deepika Padukone’s wedding sari was bought, Angadi is a chic store in a quiet old Bengaluru neighbourhood. It is known for exquisite handloom and handmade silks created by its master weavers and designers.
Add. 23, Sankey Road, Sadashiva Nagar.
4. Cauvery Handicrafts Emporium: A retail store of the Karnataka State Handicraft Development Cooperation, Cauvery is the best place to buy authentic Karnataka handicrafts like sandalwood figures, incense sticks, semi-precious jewellery, and much more.
Add. 45, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Ashok Nagar.
5. Varnam Craft Collective: Varnam Craft Collective works with artisans in Channapatna to create modern lifestyle products and has been doing so since 2012. The products include lighting, kitchenware, bar accessories, home décor, and toys. Tucked in a quiet lane in Indira Nagar it is a must-visit for every craft lover.
Add. 1332, Paramahansa Yogananda Road, Indiranagar