Even though Bangalore is more of a business hub than boho destination, it is still important to know where to go for all the good stuff. Thanks to our friends at Time Out Mumbai, we now have a complete globetrotter shopping guide for one of India?s fastest growing destinations.
Main image courtesy of Roopgill
Balaji?s Antiques & Collectibles
If some of the quaint shops from the magical Diagon Alley were to transpose themselves somewhere in Bangalore, they would surely find a home at Balaji?s, one of Bangalore?s oldest antiques stores. Popularly known as Rare, this antique institution has been in operation since 1924. What started out as a gramophone shop, eventually turned into an antiques haven with original Raja Ravi Varma lithographs, old antiquarian maps, colonial era bric-a-brac and original teakwood furniture. The props from Rare were used to create authentic period detailing in A Passage to India, David Lean?s 1984 English film drama. Army issue bullet boxes, Swiss-made typewriters, paratrooping bicycles and spy cameras from the World War II era, vintage advertisements and posters are only a few of the gems hidden in this shop. Third-generation owner, Balaji DG will gladly show you around all three floors of this store full of dusty furniture, typewriters and plenty of vintage wares and even invite you for a cup of filter coffee, while he patiently answers your excited queries about each and every artefact in his store. Prices start from R200. 64, Balaji Silk Complex, First Floor, Avenue Road (92424-10288). Mon-Sat 11am-7.30pm. Cash only. Visit balajiantiques.com or phantomhands.in.
Bhavani Kangan Stores
Anyone who?s ever watched the TV show Bridezillas and is even remotely conversant with the profession of Srinivasa Jogi in real life will agree he is a brave man. After all, as is evident in the TV show ? an amalgam of brides and Godzilla ? it?s no mean feat to emerge unscathed and smiling after catering to every whim and tantrum of the bride-to-be and all her female family members. That?s what Jogi, who owns Bhavani Kangan Stores, contends with every day. Yet, he?s grown used to it after being in the ?fancy items and cosmetics? business since 1983. His father?s store on DVG Road is even older, and started 50 years ago. The Jayanagar branch has grown to three floors, and almost 1,500-square feet, of all things shiny and remotely wedding-related. The most prominent of these (going by the name of the store) are bangles, in all kinds of colours and bling levels ? plastic ones that college kids sport, antique fare with flashy faux stones appropriate for Sanjay Leela Bhansali productions, thin metal ones in every colour to match with the most vaguely-shaded outfit, lacquer or clay sets brought in from Kolkata, Punjabi choodas and, of course, glass staples for south Indian ceremonies. The second floor has bindis, and more bindis, of alarming lengths and price levels; some have what the store assistants tried to explain as cutting stones, or leftovers from those used in gold-plated ornaments. And there?s more to cross off the wedding list. The store also stocks cosmetics, bridal sets for hire, and false plaits with kundan stones for the impending nuptials. Prices start from R20. 16-9th Main, 3rd Block, Jayanagar (2663-5074). Wed-Mon8am-11pm, Tue 8am-2pm. All major cards.
Blossom Book House
There is only that much that can be said about Bangalore?s favourite second-hand bookstore; the rest of it is to be experienced. The decade-old book house, might have recently gone online, but its real pleasures are to be experienced by trudging your way up the narrow staircase lined with posters of all the cultural happenings in the city, that leads to the first floor of this tiny bookshop. While the ground floor houses new releases and categories such as film, photography, fitness, pets and science, the first floor is dedicated to classics, Indian fiction, a huge daunting section on crime, kids and an equally flourishing shelf dedicated to graphic novels. The second floor is a children?s wonderland and the third floor will lead you to the cookery and food books along with engineering, maths and management ones. Ask for any book and the staff will usually know where it is in hiding among the rows of shelves that nearly reach up to the ceiling. You can settle in a corner and read here and catch snatches of conversations, which can at best be described as nostalgic or random and is also the inspiration for Tumblr site Overheard at Blossoms. We have found all the copies for our collection of MM Kaye?s colonial era thriller series ?Death in?? Kashmir, Andamans, Kenya, Cyprus, Berlin and Zanzibar here and a dog-eared copy of The Group by Mary McCarthy, the original inspiration for Candace Bushnell?s Sex and the City that follows the lives of eight women graduates of Vassar College in 1930s America. Prices start from R50. 84/6 Church Street (2555-9733). Daily 10.30am?-9pm. All major cards. Visit blossombook?house.com.
We first found Gaatha as a Facebook page called A Tale of Crafts in 2009, a page that was determined to tell the stories of those countless, faceless craftsmen who spin yards of beautiful delicate fabric, craft clever wooden toys, shape masks out of papier m?ch? and coax rigid metals into shiny ornate storage boxes. What started out as a documentation project at the National Institute of Design Ahmedabad soon turned into a full-fledged storytelling website, where the hitherto unknown craftsman was brought under the spotlight and his or her products showcased on an e-store finally. The Gaatha Handicrafts website is divided not only according to products such as saris, dupattas, dresses, jewellery, home decor, kitchenware and toys, but also according to the kind of craft, technique or material used. Banarasi, Maheswari, Chanderi and Dabu printed saris can be found here as well as the Ahimsa silk saris, the fabrics of which are woven in Karnataka. With a special emphasis on Kutchi craftwork, you will find brass chimes used by cowherds, a set of ornate metal ladles, quirky crocodile puppets, animal-shaped wooden combs that come with an oil channel and elaborate kavads, Rajasthani miniature mobile wooden temples that have several partitions that can be opened up to reveal panels of hand painted mythological narratives. When you order, your parcel arrives with a beautiful bookmark that documents the name and area of the craftsperson who has painstakingly worked on your buy. Prices start from R250. Shop online at shop.gaatha.com.
Fans of children?s literature may suspect that they?ve fallen down the rabbit hole and straight into a cozy book nook at Cooke Town?s Lightroom Bookstore. While the shop only opened its doors last year, owner Aaashti Mudnani has been developing the concept of a space devoted to children?s books since her daughter was born seven years ago. Step through the door at the end of an otherwise unremarkable shady, residential street and you will find the most meticulously curated selection of children?s books. Picture books face outwards on custom-made shelves, and racks devoted to young adult novels and fiction for early readers line the walls. Innovative books are given particular prominence, and the Lightroom is also one of the few Indian stockists of experimental international publishers such as One Stroke from Japan and the Italian Corraini Edizioni; and of homegrown publishers including Tulika, Tara, Young Zubaan and Karadi Tales. The pristine white walls, shelves and tables give a minimalist feel, with art painted directly onto the walls ? as well as the books themselves ? adding splashes of colour. Apart from books, Lightroom keeps a beautiful line of children?s clothing designed by Kid Grasshopper and a small selection of wooden toys and games. Also look out for forthcoming events ? over the last one year, Lightroom has collaborated with both Bookalore and Lekhana festivals to host storytelling and writing workshops for young people. Prices start from R50 plus taxes. 1 Lewis Road, Cooke Town (2546?-0466). Mon-Sat 10.30am-8.30pm. All major cards, excluding Amex.
The Entertainment Store
The Entertainment Store offers merchandise that encompasses Tintin figurines to a life-size Darth Vader helmet to posters of famous movies, music artists and cartoon characters. An approximate ten-minute stroll around the store is required to recover from the initial dizziness and confusion that awaits any visitor. You will find paraphernalia here both exciting and difficult to find in most novelty stores in the city. Example: bobble heads of DC Comics characters such as Iron Man and Batman, the man behind ?Gangnam Style?, Psy, and Bar?ney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. The Stinson bobble head lashes out his famous lines from the show, ?Legend-wait-for it-dary?. Apart from this, we also found resin models of scenes from the Tintin comic book series. Their posters of the English Premier League clubs might be a cherished find for football fans in cricket-crazy India. The life-size costumes of Superman and Batman left us praying for an adventurous costume party. The DVD section on the second floor invites you to rummage through a library of DVDs of bands? concerts, old English films, Hindi films, CDs of cartoon series such as Dora the Explorer and Chota Bheem. We also discovered films such as Hazaar Chaurasi ki Ma that find little shelf space in other stores. Prices start from R75. Prestige Eureka, 47, Church Street (98860-36415). Daily 11am-9pm. All major cards.
Vashi?s Jean Shack
Finding a pair of denims that fit you like a dream can often turn into a nightmarish experience. But at the nearly 30-year-old Vashi?s Jean Shack, our city?s best-kept secret perhaps, you will be sure to find a pair of denims with your name written on it. And there?s a fine ceremony attached at Vashi?s to enhance this experience. Once you enter the tiny first-floor store, owner Vashi Lakhani will take one look at you and order you to try a pair without taking measurements. Nine out of ten times, that pair will fit you so well that you will not be able to stop looking at yourself in the store mirror.
Along with skinny, regular or boot cut styles in a range of washes, expect to find on-trend coloured denims, retro print versions and some easygoing pants in linen, suited for the workspace. The sizes range from extra extra small to plus sizes. Once you choose your pair, a tailor next door alters the length in a jiffy while you go across the road to sip a steaming filter kapi at Woody?s. Once you have been handed your brand new pair, Lakhani will send you off with strict instructions about washing your denim inside out, not to dry it out directly in the sun and to preferably hand wash it. Prices start from R1,100. 30, Commercial Street (2558-6625). Daily 10am-9pm. All major cards.
Courtesy of Time Out Mumbai >>
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