Pondy Bazaar is a small shopping destination located in Thyagaraya Nagar, commonly known as T. Nagar, Chennai.
In the three and a half years that I’ve lived in Chennai, one of my favourite shopping destinations has to be Pondy Bazaar. Commodities are available in all price ranges for all kinds of customers. It caters to those who like bargaining, and to those who wish to buy from popular brands like Globus, Raymond Group, Reebok, Nike, and Levi Strauss & Co. Along with these brands, people also shop at cheaper retail outlets like Big Bazaar and Saravana Stores, thus catering not only to the upper but to middle-class shoppers as well. From affordable cloth materials to expensive, ready-made sarees, almost everything is found in this popular shopping area.
A Unique Shopping District
Pondy Bazaar is a great shopping destination for almost all products ranging from clothes, footwear, and accessories, to electronics, decorations, and home decor. The best thing is that it all comes within an affordable price range. It’s a one-stop destination to buy anything and everything.
Stores in and around Pondy Bazaar are of two types – branded stores and street shops.
Some popular brands near Pondy Bazaar are Indian Terrain, Arrow, Woodlands, Bata, Fasttrack, Titan, Mochi, Globus, Raymond Group, Reebok, Nike, Lee Wrangler, Levi Strauss & Co., and Health & Glow. Mobile stores such as Univercell and Poorvvika can also be spotted around Pondy Bazaar.
Outlets like Saravana Stores and Big Bazaar are ideal retail stores for various commodities at a low price range. Saravana Stores is an ever-growing department store. They sell everything from clothes to electronics to home appliances, at affordable prices, so this is the best place for you if you’re on a budget. While the original store is on Ranganathan Street, they have opened up several smaller branches around T Nagar. Another relevant store here is Rathna Stores, which has a wide variety of products, from cooking utensils to electrical appliances.
One of the best stores to buy good quality, cloth materials and ready-made clothes for men, women, and children, has to be Pothys. No doubt, Pothys is best known for its saree collection. The range of fabrics, and styles, along with the prices, makes it stand out among all other clothing stores. Nalli Silks is also quite known for its cloth materials and ready-to-wear sarees. Brands such as Globus, Soch and FabIndia are on the pricier scale. They all have a wide variety of Indian, Western, and fusion ready-to-wear clothing options.
One of the highlights of Pondy Bazaar is its gold. Big-name stores like NAC Jewellers, Lalithaa Jewellery, Prince Jewellery, and others are famous for their incredible collection of gold jewellery. They are even known for jewellery made from precious metals like platinum and silver. Kerala Jewellers next to Big Bazaar and Vummidi Bangaru Srihari Sons opposite Panagal Park are known for their gold jewellery. GRT Jewellers has several branches spread over Pondy Bazaar. Narayana Pearls is known for its pearl, antique and semi-precious stone jewellery. Other brands famous all over India such as Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Joyalukkas Jewellery, and Tanishq have showrooms on north Usman Road.
T Nagar is known for its street shopping, so you won’t miss the rows of street hawkers who are all open to bargaining and some even offer attractive deals.
Commodities such as books, soap cases, hair accessories, metal jewellery, bags, and other such items are available all along the street. A wide array of temporary stalls are neatly arranged along the streets of Pondy Bazaar. Most of these commodities do not have a fixed price, so be sure to sharpen your bargaining skills.
On weekends, vendors fill out both sides of the streets. The cheap jewellery bought here is often the trendsetter in Chennai so do have a look around.
Places to Grab a Bite
If you’re exhausted from walking around in the heat, Pondy Bazaar has quite a range of places where you can grab something to eat. Some popular restaurants in and around Pondy Bazaar are Saravana Bhavan, Hot Chips, A2B, and Anjappar.
Gopathi Narayanaswami Chetty Road has some of the busiest restaurants. If you are a vegetarian, you can try Sangeetha Veg Restaurant, known for its elaborate meals, or Murugan Idli Shop, famous for its melt-in-your-mouth idlis and dosas. If you’re looking for a buffet, the same street also houses Absolute Barbque and The Brick Oven. Sir Theagaraya Road features other classic restaurants such as Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Adyar Anandha Bhavan, Hot Chips, and Shri Balajee Bhavan. You can also find Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant on Mahalakshmi Street and the renowned Dindigul Thalappakatti on Venkatanarayana Road. Some lesser-known restaurants are Sapthagiri Tiffin Centre opposite Natesan Park, Bakya Veg Restaurant on Jayashankar Street, and Mathsya on Thanikachalam Road. For your more expensive tastes, Accord Metropolitan, The Residency Towers and The Residency are in the near vicinity. The Residency also has an after-midnight restaurant that has gained popularity in recent years.
If you genuinely want to experience the local cuisine after night, there are a few hidden treasures you can head over to. While most shops close for the night, some local stalls remain open even after midnight, sometimes as long as 3 am. The most frequented of these is the small counter opposite Globus. It is also not unusual to see some roadside breakfast shops opening up as early as 4 am. Pondy Bazaar is also well-known for its all-day tea stalls that remain open between 9 am and 9 pm. These tea stalls are the perfect hangout spots for your busy day.
This tiny lane is right next to our favourite Ranganathan Street. The path is quite small, with barely enough space for more than one person to walk through.
This street is infamous for its black market deals – shops sell various counterfeit items, pirated movie and music CDs, and even clothes, bags and shoes. Some popular shops in Sathya Bazaar are Rani Music Collections, Syed Mobiles, and Imran Fashion. This street is also famous for its Sathya Market, which sells a variety of things at a low price.
How to get there
- Metro: There is a metro service every 15 minutes that could take you to Teynampet Metro Station. The Blue line or Corridor 2 stops at Teynampet, the closest metro station to Pondy Bazaar.
- Bus: You could also use the MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) buses to get to Pondy Bazaar. 12B from Vadapalani, 47A from Besant Nagar, 11G from Broadway, and 29B from Perambur all stop at Pondy Bazaar.
- Train/Sub-urban: Mambalam station is the nearest local train station. You can board a train from Beach station, Tambaram, or Chengalpattu. These could get very crowded, and you might not even get a seat.
- Share-auto/Auto: Most share-autos display their destination, so you can find out which ones are traveling towards Pondy Bazaar. Or you can just ask them if they’re going that way. You can also hail an auto to get to Pondy Bazaar.
What Makes it Irreplaceable
Pondy Bazaar is, honestly, the only place you need to go to fulfil all your shopping needs in Chennai. Whether it is clothes, shoes, bags, handicrafts, kitchen utensils, or home decor you’re looking for, Pondy Bazaar’s got it.
One of the unique qualities of Pondy Bazaar is that you can buy a piece of fabric, and you can find multiple tailors who will stitch it tailored to your liking and style, mostly within the hour. This is something that I have only observed in Chennai. You can choose from a variety of expensive silks, pure cotton and cotton-mixes, and even polyester for your clothing tastes.
Something else about Pondy Bazaar that always struck me is the crowd. It can get very crowded, especially on weekends, and it almost seems like the crowd is carrying you with them. Our group always had to hold hands so that we didn’t lose each other in the crowds. However, I have to admit, shopping in Pondy Bazaar is worth getting almost trampled upon.
I thought this was an excellent opportunity to catch up with some of my friends while I relieved these memories. I asked them about their personal opinions about shopping at Pondy Bazaar. One of them said: “The shopkeepers, especially the street vendors, are very friendly. Each time I went there, I used to see how much I could bargain and reduce the price. It’s the best place for people who aren’t that brand-conscious.”
Another friend had this to say: “The first place that comes to mind when there’s an event at college is Pondy Bazaar. Some of the streetside shops have even started accepting card payments and mobile banking, so I don’t have to carry cash at hand.”
Now if that doesn’t convince you to shop at Pondy Bazaar when you’re in Chennai, then I don’t know what will.