No visit to Avenue Road is complete without taking a peek into the past at Balaji’s Antiques & Collectibles. And you can score vintage typewriters at a fraction of a cost too. Hipsters rejoice! Started in 1924, Balaji Antiques (popularly known as Rare), the oldest antique store in the city, first started out as a gramophone shop on Avenue Road. The family-owned business specialises in South Indian paintings (Mysore, Tanjore) and antiquarian maps, with a focus on colonial as well as ethnic collectables. Artefacts and collectables from Balaji were also used to create an authentic period look for David Lean’s legendary film A Passage to India.
The first floor of the store is crammed with every possible kind of antique: from adorable baby bottles to original Ravi Varma Press lithographs. The first floor is stuffed to the gills with vintage cameras, Swiss typewriters, ancient brass urns, ornate fans, English-style water filters, and even stately gramophones. Especially lust-worthy is the fine collection of Swedish enamelware, children’s collection of tin toys and soldiers, old film posters, army-issue bullet boxes and of course vintage typewriters. The second and third floors are dedicated to beautiful furniture, some of it in teakwood apparently. Take your pick from writing desks, almirahs with mirrors and crystal handles, carved cabinets, art deco style mirrors, wooden boxes, and more. The pricing here is competitive and there is something for every kind of budget.