Madras Unlimited – the many markets of Madras

Continuing the Madras Unlimited series
Today, I am not going to talk of a particular locality, as much as a particular feature. The many, many markets of Madras – old, new, produce, metal, all-in-all, and what not.
I can, off the top of my head name about 10 localities in Chennai, each of which has a very crowded, very frequented market area. And most of these markets claim they have been around for 50-100 years, at the very least.

Let me begin, as I am wont to do, at the place Madras began –

The Hindu - Kothwal Chavadi
Picture source: The Hindu Images

Chennai’s most famed market of yore – Kothawal Chavadi, is just outside the Fort St. George. When it comes to old-day markets, this is the bee’s knees, so to speak. Here, one got vegetables, fruits, greens and more, at wholesale rates. In fact, the Kothwal Chavadi was the Koyambedu, before there was ever a koyambedu. Families, mine included, spoke of going to Kothawal chavadi to stock up for the coming weeks. Around Kothawal chavadi, in the many streets of George town came up wholesale markets for goods of different kinds – perfumes, metal, stationery, clothing, name it, you could get it. Only at George Town’s streets.

Stationery could be had at Anderson Street, while Nainiappan Naicken street had chemicals and perfumes as its core offering. And around these cramped streets and many houses, came the others – Currimbhoys who sold cutlery, Jacobs who sold carpets, and the High Court, which sold justice.

Today, most of the market has moved out. To where money and car-parking is available in generous doses. Yet, the streets remain as crowded as day 1, and business is close to as-usual.

(next in the series of Madras Unlimited: Markets – Mylapore and Thani Thurai market)

2 Comments so far

  1. Navneeth (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

    Nice article, and thanks for the link to Hindu Images.

    “…the High Court, which sold justice.”
    Good one. :)

  2. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

    Currimbhoys is still there. And Jacobs?

    The whole Parry’s area seems still very much alive, from its metals mart to its bearings and pipefittings (via opticals, medicals shoes, gifts, flowers…)

    Wonderful place :) :) :)

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