May 24, 2017

Our traditional markets continue to thrive; and having withstood the rise of glitzy shopping malls, they are holding out against online shopping sites.

 The old mandis such as KR Market, Gandhi Bazaar, Russell Market and Johnson Market are teeming with people any day of the week. Besides the charm and the adventure of walking through these old-world structures, the wares they hawk can't be found in a mall.

The Good City crew takes you through some of the city's mandis where some things never change.

KR Market (Kalasipalayam)

Krishna Rajendra Market was originally, (and in many ways still is), a battlefield. Named in the honour of Krishnarajendra Wodeyar, a former ruler of Mysore,  this was the site of the 18th Century Anglo-Mysore war.

 KR Market has one of the largest flower markets in the city. Image Source

Today, KR Market is one of the oldest and largest wholesale commodities markets in the city, known best for seasonal flowers. This is the place to go to for jasmine, crossandra, marigold, chrysanthemum, aster, rose and gladiolus. The three-storey structure has a different specialisation on each floor - flowers and vegetables on the ground floor, dry goods on the first, and tools and related accessories on the top-most floor. It is essentially an all-hours market, but early morning is the best time to visit. The place really comes alive during festivals.

Gandhi Bazaar (Basavanagudi)

Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazaar is known for its crispy dosas. Photo: Shubha Vasisth

 The fruit stalls of Gandhi Bazaar have fresh produce around the year. Photo: Aditya Mendonca

Unlike the well-ordered building of KR Market, Gandhi Bazaar is a sprawling street bazaar. Apart from staples like fruits, vegetables and flowers, this market is known for its 'granthige' stores, which specialise in 'pooja' essentials and traditional 'ayurvedic'medicines. Silk and 'Kancheepuram' sarees are also a speciality. And let's not forget Vidyarthi Bhavan, the iconic eatery in Gandhi Bazaar, which serves the crispiest of dosas. The market bustles in the evenings, with people bargaining and birds chirping.

Russell Market (Shivajinagar)

 The Indo-Saracenic arches and pillars have an undeniable nostalgic charm. Photo: Vivek Mathew

 look for a bargain in Russell Market's antique shops. 

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This 90-year-old market has made a name for its fresh produce over the years. The market is synonymous with the best of flowers, local and imported fruits and vegetables, fish, and meat in the city. Russell Market is still steeped in a past that its Indo-Saracenic arches and pillars, and its veteran vendors bear witness to. The antique shops around the market are a great place to pick up a bargain or two. Despite a major fire which burnt down 173 of Russell Market's stores in 2012, it remains a major landmark in the city, as Bengaluru's biggest meat and fish market.

Johnson Market (Richmond Town)

Johnson Market is known more for its food than its produce.Named for a British civil servant, Johnson Market was opened in 1929 on land that housed Persian businessman Aga Ali Asker's horse shelter. It later expanded with a donation of property by an erstwhile Dewan of Mysore. Photo: Ankita Sarkar

Named for a British civil servant, Johnson Market was opened in 1929 on land that housed Persian businessman Aga Ali Asker's horse shelter. It later expanded with a donation of property by an erstwhile Dewan of Mysore.

Two of the most famous joints here are Fanoos, and Siddique. But the roadside roll guys give them both a run for their money every day. This is a meat lovers' market, luring unsuspecting passers-by with the smoky, charcoal grill aroma of kebabs, shawarma rolls, biriyani, and skewered sheekh kebabs. Which isn't to say the vegetarians are overlooked. Samosas and mirchi bhajji, and the hot chai at Makkah Café are worth the trip as well.

For more such stories on exploring the charming little nooks of Bengaluru, read our post on walking through the 'towns' of Bengaluru, or watch our video on the same.

Text by Rachel George; Research by Ashwini Nagaraj