Mumbai Shopping

Where to Shop and What to Buy in Mumbai

Shopping in Mumbai can be quite an experience. You can pay 20 dollars for a nice branded dress in one shop and find that an exact replica of the dress is available for five dollars on the street. You can pick up some chunky chain jewellery off the pavement for 12 dollars and wonder in amazement how the jewellery counter at the mall is selling the exact same thing at 50 dollars.

The whole trick is in knowing where to shop, and knowing when to bargain. Mumbai shopkeepers expect you to haggle with them over every price tag. This maybe not the case in the so-called Malls, but if you want to shop the Mumbai way you would not be going to the Malls anyway.

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Chor Bazaar

This is a market that sells secondhand goods; the Indian version of a flea market. The name 'Chor Bazaar' translates as 'Thieves' market' and a lot of the goods that you see there are at throwaway prices because they were stolen. Not all the goods are stolen merchandise by the way and if you rummage through some of the junk that lies piled up outside the shops here you might find some treasures.

Many antique dealers are known to search this market and later sell the bought goods in posh, upmarket shops. It's a great place for a treasure hunt. Some locals refuse to drive and park their cars near the market because it is believed that the 'Chors' from the market will steal their hubcaps by the time they get back! Some actually pay young beggar children to look after their vehicle.

  • Location: South Mumbai, about 30 minutes from central Mumbai.
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Crawford Market

Although the official name is Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Market these days the market is still known as Crawford market after Arthur Crawford who was the first Municipal Commissioner of the city. There is a pet store at one end of the market and a wholesale market for vegetables, fruits and poultry exists here besides shops which sell household items, cosmetics and gift curios at wholesale rates.

It is housed in a building constructed in 1869 which was donated to the city by Cowasji Jehangir, and has the distinction of being the first Indian building to have been lit with electricity in the year 1882. Even if you have no intention to buy, you will end up picking up something from this market.

  • Location: Opposite the Mumbai Police HQ, very close to Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
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Well-known as the largest slum in Asia, Dharavi is also famous for its incredible leatherwork shops. All kinds of leather goods can be bought here at a fraction of the cost in a fancy showroom, plus you can bargain and get them to reduce the prices further if you are buying in bulk, so it makes sense to go shopping with a friend.

You can pick up leather goods like purses, bags, belts, wallets, jackets, skirts, suitcases, laptop cases, spectacle cases, key chains, and many small nick knacks which are good to take home as souvenirs and gifts. There is a string of shops on the main road that you can visit. So if you are venturing there without a guide stick to the shops on the main road and forget about the so called production houses in the interiors. The rates will not be much lower in any case.

  • Location: Dharavi, about 20 minutes drive from central Mumbai.
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Fashion Street

Set right across from the World Trade Tower, this is the famous 'Footpath Market' made up of temporary-looking shack-like structures; this is the most popular shopping destination for anyone on a restricted budget. You can pick up anything in clothing from these stalls from a handkerchief to a blouse, from a pair of socks to a silk shirt, from night pajamas to denim jeans.

You can literally quote your price here and the shopkeeper himself will be disappointed unless you tell him to reduce the price. In fact as there are close to 100 stalls you do have a good chance of getting your price as he know you will just head off to the next shop and spend your money there. Don’t get conned into spending your money on additional stuff that you don’t want.

  • Location: Opposite Azad Maidan, in South Mumbai, at the Mahatma Gandhi road, about 40 minutes drive from central Mumbai.
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Linking Road

This was the original road that linked Bandra and Juhu and helped in expanding Mumbai to the north. It has been renamed Vithalbhai Patel Marg, but if you tell that to your taxi driver he will not respond as well as he will to the old name. Linking Road is a shopping haven where you can get everything from imported goods to clever fakes.

Chinese goods rub shoulders with branded outlets, and clothes and accessories of every conceivable nature are available here. There are also a few popular cafes sprinkled along this road. A lot of showrooms for branded stuff and quite a few bank offices are found here.

  • Location: Linking Road, five minutes from Central Mumbai.
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Malls Galore

There are, besides these main shopping areas, all the major Indian Mall brands located in the city – Pantaloons, Reliance, Subhiksha, Shopper’s Stop, Mumbai Central, Max, and many, many more. This is the new face of Indian shopping and is very akin to malls abroad, along with their multiplexes and food courts.

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