Chor bazaar


An off-beat walk that one can do in Mumbai is to stroll through Chor Bazaar. To get there, follow Mohammad Ali Road until it crosses S. V. P. Road (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road, if you are a pedant), then go westward along S. V. P. Road and turn into Mutton Galli.chorbazar2 Why chor bazaar should displace the mutton vendors whose galli they sit on is a topic ripe for urban historians. But the moment you turn into the road you know from the bizarre collection in each shop that you can be nowhere else.

One of the first stalls that I saw had used fans of all descriptions: exhaust fans, pedestal fans, table fans, and ceiling fans were what I recognized. The two young men selling these things were not averse to being in a photo. Further down was a bright yellow shop which sold any variety of hardware. I spotted a camera tripod standing in lonely majesty among polishing wheels.


If chor bazaar was really a den of thieves anytime, that must have been long ago. It is rapidly gentrifying. A couple of turns later we came across a section of the bazaar which looked like a supply store for films. There were period object: empty tins of Cadburys from the 1950s, an empty cigarette tin of the same vintage, even some tins of patent medicines which could easily have been used by Sadhana in one of her movies. chorbazar3 Further along there was a small store selling vintage advertisements. When you looked closer they seemed like today’s idea of the 1960s. Could they have been real? It would need research to establish it either way.

We walked on and came to the section of the market which sold furniture and light fixtures. The furniture vendors were quite clear about which of the pieces were reproductions and which were new. Perhaps this depends on whether you know wood. Ten years ago I’d seen a genuine Art Nouveau piece, a tiny shelf with an asking price which was a touch more than I was ready to pay. I still regret not bargaining for it.

Today I saw an imitation Art Deco piece made of the right wood and materials, but looking too new. The price fitted my evaluation.chorbazar5 In a nearby shop I had a long chat about an Art Deco bar which seemed to have been made to the specification of an eccentric Parsi gentleman. Apparently much of the older furniture which reaches the market today is sourced from the estates of Parsi families.

It was getting very warm by now. The two days of winter in Mumbai are over. I looked across the lane from the furniture shops and saw a tiny stall which seems to specialize in lamp shades. The shopkeeper was taking a siesta. It was good to take the hint and bring the walk to an end.


Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

10 thoughts on “Chor bazaar”

  1. I love those places, they look like full of treasures to me, I can spend endless hours there. Great post, thanks for sharing so well!


      1. It is ALWAYS like that for me! I lived a few years in India, and you wouldnt believe the amount of hours I would spend in markets. I always went with a goal and ended up with so many things totally unrelated .. They are magical, full of little treasures aren’t they? Your post took me back there in a minute, thanks 🙂


  2. Thanks for sharing such an extraordinary post! I can wonder how unique it would be shopping from such a place. The land of Mumbai comes with ample mysteries and a place like this in itself is a mystery.


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