The Markets of Bangalore are no less than other Heritage Sites. Here’s Why

Before online shopping sites and shiny malls, Bangalore’s shoppers frequented in, while vendors thrived in markets. Be it old Bangalore (the pete side) or the cantonment area, the city’s trade and commerce relied on the hustle and bustle of merchant shops that would open their shutters as early as 5 AM.

While a lot has changed since the 80s and 90s, Bangalore has managed to retain the chaotic charm of its markets – be it shopping for affordable footwear in Commercial Street, to getting a week’s worth of greens from Russel Market. Rediscover some of Bangalore’s iconic markets and their rich histories.

Did you know that this market was one of the first public buildings to get electricity in Bangalore? Formerly known as City Market, the red building with white arches spanning 3 storeys and 47,000 square meters was built in 1921. While it’s a bit run down today, the Krishnarajendra Market, named after the former ruler of Mysore, was ideated to deal with the unsanitary conditions of stalls that preceded it. Like decades ago, you can find KR Market bustling with shoppers and vendors, buying and selling everything from flowers and fruits to shoes, books and machine parts.

markets of Bangalore
A flower show like no other, at K.R. Market. Image credits: Rupert Jones

You cannot miss this market as you pass by Shivajinagar, either because of its sheer size or because of the number of shoppers that gather here, no matter the day of the week. Russel Market was built in 1927 to serve cantonment Bangalore, albeit its architectural design was and continues to be primarily Indian. Almost everything you’re looking for can be found in one of Bangalore’s oldest markets.

markets of Bangalore
Colours galore in Russel Market. Image credits: Karthik Chandrasekariah

To non-Bangaloreans, Chikpete is a labyrinth of streets and stalls. To us, it’s THE place for wedding shopping, affordable home lighting and all the school supplies and college stationery you could ever need! It’s one of those markets in the city of Bangalore that’s a household name, whether you’ve been here or not. That’s because it was part of Old Bangalore, or the pete area, making it one of the city’s oldest localities and the beloved shopping destination for over 250 years. The name means ‘small city’, after all!

markets of Bangalore
Endless yards of silk and zari in Chikpete. Image credits: Nicolas Mirguet

Are you even Bangalorean if you’ve never been to Commercial Street? This age-agnostic pair of streets, with its many lanes and gullies, is where you’d drop in by default for clothes, jewellery, footwear and food. But did you know that this shopping hub is over 400 years old? The name was lifted from a shopping avenue in London called Commercial Street.

markets of Bangalore
The street that never sleeps. Image credits: Glenn Harper

While it runs through the uber-busy Chikpete, Avenue Road shines on its own, for two important reasons. The first and more recent is that it’s the it-place for all-things-books. Sure, Blossoms and Gangarams are great but the OG destination for book lovers was and continues to be Avenue Road. Come July, and you’ll find Avenue Road hounded by parents and school-going children alike. The second reason? Avenue Road may be as old as the city of Bangalore itself! When Kempegowda I built the city, its two main roads – Chikpete and Doddapete streets – were its arteries. Avenue Road is now what Doddapete – the heart of Bangalore – once was.

Haven for second-hand books. Image credits: The News Minute

Bangalore is home to many more markets and shopping centres like Brigade Road, M.G Road, Malleshwaram Market, Ulsoor Market, and Johnson Market. Even if you’re not out to buy anything, a visit to Bangalore’s markets is worthwhile for some yesteryear feels and a glimpse into what the city’s commerce truly was.

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