Baroda’s four gates (Vadodara is also known as Baroda) – Paani Gate, Champaner, Geni Gate, Lehripura Darwaja, off the massive Sukhsagar Lake are a treasure of all kinds of craft, embroidery, stationery, cloth, hardware, utility and other wholesale items. I’ve walked on these roads after almost a decade. I remember coming here with my sister and parents when I was in school. That time, malls were unheard of. We had to visit these bazaars for everything that we needed.
From what I remember, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience for any of us (unless, anything was bought for me, I’d be miserable. I used to look at all the shops fascinated by all the things on display and dreamt of owning half of those things). We used to struggle to find car parking. The narrow roads were always crammed full by cattle sitting on the road, scattered 2-wheelers and chattering ladies. We used to wait impatiently in the car, watching cows, desperately waiting for Mother to come back after her shopping. She usually came back with a headache. Needless to say, we stopped visiting these narrow lanes after a while.
Today, bazaars attract me. I love the colour, the food and the idea that pretty, unique things are waiting to be found by me. I’ve concluded that hidden treasures can be found here if you have the eye for spotting the right thing and are patient. Cloth that is being sold at dirt cheap rates, delicious food being made at ancestral legendary food stalls and tailors who can stitch anything for you compel you to think that malls and international brands have been looting you all this while.
And for those creative minds, whose mind is always bubbling with ideas, the bazaar is the place to be.
Ever since I came to Baroda, I have wanted to revisit the bazaars that I hadn’t seen since school days. So I roped in a very good friend of mine, who is a localite and knows the area well (and is also very patient and supportive) to show me around. There are many craft and outfit ideas in my mind for which I wanted to explore the local markets. Knowing that Baroda is a culture hub, I was sure to find a good steal out there.
Even though we reached Mangal Bazaar (I met my friend opposite Nyay Mandir) at around 10:30 am, it was burning hot. We roamed around the labyrinth of narrow lanes (some dirty) to visit wholesale cloth, bags, craft, embroidery and hardware shops. The craft shops reminded me of my school days. I used to preserve each glittery paper, gift wrapper and set of beads like they were the last precious jewels available on earth (I still have all of them at my parents’ place, intact). I had been gifted bunch of translucent pink and yellow beads that glittered like diamonds; I treated them like real diamonds and have preserved them for over the last 15 years. The ribbons, the lace, the glitter paper and the sequins – discarded by some have been preserved by me to be used some day.
The wholesale cloth shops are dangerous for a shopaholic like me. My eyes gleamed with ideas when I found that the lace cloth costs only Rs. 50 per meter. I am surely designing some outfits myself and getting them stitched. It would turn out to be much more economical and in the process, you get a pattern of your own liking.
A visit or trip to any place is not complete without food. The fact that I didn’t have time to have breakfast in the morning turned out to be a blessing in disguise. So we attack the bajiyas at Lala Kaka’s, sugarcane juice at a thela, Malai Lassi at Golvad ka naka & Ice cream cold drink at Samrat. I could then say that my trip has been successful.
These bazaars are actually the old areas of the city. You can spot the trademark architecture – wooden pillars, stone flooring, ornate balconies – all over. Because I like old architecture, I had a fantastic time clicking photos. This place had such an old, comforting feel around. It actually felt like home.
We stumbled upon these old abandoned buildings that could have been workshops, commercial centres or residences some day. However beautiful and mysterious they looked, they also looked ignored. I wish we’d value them and maintain them for the sake of preserving their history for future generations. Another spot where I’d like to come back and spend more time.
I started off with a lot of enthusiasm despite the heat. I had my optimism high. The heat finally overpowered me and I decided to head back home. I was tired but not beaten. I left with a very strong intent of coming back and exploring the bazaars more.