Saturday, April 03, 2010

Gandhi Bazaar

This post is part of the Bazaar Tour Series. You can read here about Gandhi Bazaar: Street Vendor Eviction and about Pedestrianising Gandhi Bazaar.

The Gandhi Bazaar is a part of Basavanagudi, one of the older localities of this IT metropolis. It is a Street Bazaar, so you can get down anywhere along the street and start walking and exploring. On a festival day, such as Sankranti or Pongal (14th January) or Ugadi (first week of April) or Diwali (October or beginning November) Gandhi Bazaar has more lively shopping interactions and is a place to be a part of. On any given day of the year, the Bazaar opens at six in the morning and closes at nine in the evening.

The paths that take you towards the bazaar are territorialized by the informal sector, the paths within the market itself are patterns of human interaction and movement that are generated only to disappear again in a little while, to be created once more in another way. The vendor displays are simple creations that are changing and transforming themselves to attract and to sell better.

Amongst the shops that are very unique to this Bazaar are the Granthige stores i.e. shops that sell Puja items. I stop by at Ashwini Stores at the Vidyarthi Bhavan Circle. Besides all puja items, they also have Ayurvedic items, Dry fruits, Country drugs, Plastic covers, etc.

The other shops to look out for are the ones that sell local Kannadiga dry snacks, such as Holige (which is similar to the Maharashtrian Puran Poli), Jaggery & Peanut balls and Pickles. These often have nameboards that say, ‘Dealers in Condiments, Dry fruits and General Home products’. There is one off the Gandhi Bazaar Main road, on D.V.Gundappa Road.

As you walk along the main Gandhi Bazaar road, you see vendors stringing flowers into garlands with their dexterous hands. The jasmines (mallige), tuberoses, marigolds, asters and roses are coupled with leaves to make garlands for the temple deity or for a wedding ceremony. If you are in this area early morning, i.e. anytime between 5:30am to 10:00am, you can also step into the 'Corporation market', which is on the main road and is primarily a flower market.

There are shops along the Gandhi Bazaar main road that also sell Silk sarees. There is the Kancheepuram Silk Weavers'Co-operative Society shop. There is also the private Kancheepuram Silk showroom with a shopfront that is more modern.

When it is time to eat, there are two places that can be a worthwhile experience at Gandhi Bazaar. One of them is Vidyarthi Bhavan, on the Gandhi Bazaar main road. It was started in 1938 as an eating place that served students. It is known for its Benne (butter) masala dosas. Since this is the most popular item on the menu, you often see the waiter balancing several plates of dosas in his hand. It is not a sight you see anywhere else. From Monday to Thursday, it is open from 6:30am to 11:30am and 2:00-8:00pm. On Saturday & Sunday, it is open from 6:30am to 12noon and 2:30-8:00pm. It is closed on Fridays.

The Brahmins Café is the other very popular eatery here. You can walk to it from Gandhi Bazaar. It is on Rangarao road near Shankar Mutt. The menu lists Idli, Vada, Khara Baath, Kesari Baath and Tea/Coffee. It is open from 7am to 12noon and 4pm to 7pm. It is closed on Sundays. There is also the Kamat Bugle Rock, a great restaurant for a North Karnataka thali, on Bull Temple Road.

Gandhi Bazaar sits on land that has been an important part of Bangalore’s history. In the vicinity is the Bull Temple. Here the Nandi (Bull) actually belongs to a centuries old temple almost 2 km away – the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple. The book ‘Deccan Traverses – The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain’ by Anuradha Mathur & Dilip da Cunha says “The Nandi Bull is a celebration of the rock outcrop, a sculpted summit enclosed by a pavilion on eight columns and a circumambulatory” It further says “An inscription below the right foreleg of Nandi declares that the waters of the Vrishabhavati originate here. These waters join the Kaveri”.

You wonder if the Gandhi bazaar is a Temple Bazaar, because you realise that it is a bazaar for flowers and a bazaar for puja items. These are two important elements of a Temple bazaar anywhere in India. The Gandhi Bazaar is perhaps different from the Temple bazaar in Tiruvannamalai or the Temple Bazaar in Mylapore, Chennai where the bazaars are streets that lead right upto the Arunachaleswarar temple or the Kapaleeswarar temple respectively. However, from what it sells and from its geography, one could assume that it is a Temple Bazaar that is gradually being penetrated with modern-day consumerism.

How to reach there : It is an area well-known and can be reached by bus or by taxi or by an auto-rickshaw. If you ask a cab-driver or an auto-rickshawdriver to take you to ‘Gandhi Bazaar’, he will bring you there. You will know when you are there as you spot flower garland and banana leaf sellers all over.

More about Gandhi Bazaar:
Gandhi Bazaar: Street vendor Eviction
Pedestrianising Gandhi Bazaar
A Street Bazaar and the City (a film)
An afternoon in Festive Dussehra

Other Bazaars in Bangalore :
How "green" is our Bazaar?
Urban Structure-City Market & Russell Market

Bazaar tours in India :
Bazaar Tour 1 : Dadar Flower Market, Mumbai
Bazaar Tour 2 : Antique market, Mumbai
Bazaar Tour 3 : Varkala, Kerala

1 comment:

Arun said...

Interesting blog with a very niche focus!

It was nice reading the perspectives on Gandhi Bazaar. I have my doubts if Gandhi Bazaar was a temple bazaar at any point of time. Bull temple was perhaps never too big to support a bazaar of that kind, and the bazaar is a bit away from the temple. Perhaps annual kadlekai parishe is more likely associated with the temple. My guess is it was just a central market area of the old town that refused to keep up with time. Even sections of KR Market have shops that are not too different from what you see in Gandhi Bazaar.