Enjoy the thrill of walking through the streets, bargaining doggedly, evading traffic and scoring incredible deals? Then check out this list of some of the best street shopping places in Chennai and unleash the street-shopper in you.
Best Street Shopping Places In Chennai
The Mecca of all shopping, this T-Nagar bazaar is home to Chennai favourites like Rathna Stores and Naidu Hall. Walk into the two-story Corporation Complex, and you will find a bustling flower market in its compound, along with shoe stores, stalls selling pooja items, junk jewellery (jhumkas are the best) - all at remarkably low prices.
You can also shop for kurtas, tops, dupattas, shirts, children’s clothes, fake watches, handbags, travel bags, suitcases, second-hand books, home accessories.and bits and bobs like clips, pins and scrunchies. Just make sure you bargain with a vengeance, as its the only way to get the best deal. And when you're done with all the shopping, treat yourself to some Udipi tiffin or street food. Read more about it here and here.
If it’s the flair and ambience of street-side stores that you enjoy the most about the street shopping, then head to Mylapore Tank the next opportunity you have. With roadside hawkers on the streets bordering the tank and around the temple, the charming old-style market is a veritable feast for the eyes, soul, and pocket! Dance jewellery, imitation temple jewellery, trinkets, fake flowers and sticker pottus, pooja items, ceramic earthenware, baskets and the most dazzling variety of coloured glass bangles - there’s enough here to keep you thoroughly enchanted. Read more here and here.
If you’re looking for fabric for your blouses, dresses, cushion covers or upholstery, Pantheon Road in Egmore is a must-visit. Reams and reams of affordable cotton, semi-raw silk, printed and blended fabric are displayed on the roadside, perfect for mixing and matching. Unstitched salwar sets and kurtas are also available at very reasonable prices. Occasionally, you can also find vendors selling export rejects – shirts, dresses, tops, skirts in huge piles. Read more about it here and here.
Ranganathan Steet, T-Nagar
It takes some skill and patience to navigate the notoriously crowded Ranganathan street in T-Nagar, but you're sure to be rewarded with trinkets, blouse materials, plastic wares and other bric-a- brac at throwaway prices. Also, what residents (and auto annas) fondly call Nallivaasal (which actually refers to the Panagal Park area) is home to street vendors selling junk jewellery and cutesy knick-knacks. Read more about shopping in T Nagar here.
Proximity to the sea and a happening beach may be what it’s best known for, but Besant Nagar’s otherwise posh streets can also be a haven for the thrifty shopper. Try on some dainty, fashionable-looking and fairly comfortable footwear, or browse through metres of cheap cotton handloom and mill material, dramatic ikats and striped Mangalagiri fabrics. College students particularly love the area for the many gypsy beads stalls that dot the roads –wildly colourful, differently-shaped beads strung together in bohemian neckpieces, funky earrings and customisable bracelets.
If you’re going to Mylapore Tank anyway, make a stop at Luz Corner too. It may be less popular than it was some years ago, but vendors still stock toys, children’s clothes, trinkets and super budget household items. Quaint old-timey shops line the roads with amusing but charming names like “Lakhs and Lakhs” and “Millions and Millions”, giving you a taste of an old-world Madras yet to be acquainted with malls and high-end stores. There are plenty of shoe stores too. Read more here.
This place is not just one small street but a collection of different streets, each selling a particular category of products. Bunder Street sells only paper and paper-related products like stationery and books at wholesale prices. Badrian Street sells all kinds of flowers in bulk and Godown Street (once a textile hub) sells fabrics and saree materials from across the country at dirt cheap prices.
Breaking away from all these streets offering jewellery, clothes and household items, Ritchie Street is the electronic hub of the city. It's the second-largest electronics grey market in the country started in 1970, stocking a whole range of electronics at dirt cheap prices. Imported products from China and Korea, all personal use electronic items along with their peripherals, phone batteries, CCTV cameras - this place has it all. We recommend doing a little bit of research before you go there, as you can get ripped off if you’re not confident about bargaining.
For more wholesale markets in Chennai, click here.
Love books? This one is a bibliophile's utopia. Aisles of second-hand books ranging from Bronte's Jane Eyre to Grey's Anatomy, college books, used books, scriptures, Pulitzer-prize winning novels can be found here. You can also find some rare book collections and first editions here. A two-minute walk from Chennai Central railway station, this place warrants bargaining and early morning or evening visits to get sweet deals and avoid the crowd.