New Market has the honor of being Kolkata’s oldest and most well known market. It was built by the British in 1874 and started off as the Sir Stuart Hogg Market, named in honor of the then Commissioner. It is still often fondly referred to as Hogg’s Market. Identified by its landmark clock tower and the sprawling maze of nearly 2000 stalls below one roof, it offers everything from apparel, jewelry, food, handicrafts, and everything else.
In its early days, New Market had a distinctly upper class British aura about it, but over a period of time, it has evolved into a market for the common man. It is crowded and chaotic, bustling with shoppers and sellers bargaining for deals at all times. Stalls are grouped according to the type of goods they sell. However, finding your way around can still be a navigational nightmare. If you are wanting to buy special products in the market, you should not pass up the services of one of the many guides (known as coolies) that congregate around the market entrances. They live and breathe the market, and can effortlessly lead you to the best goods for the best price.
Vegetarians are well advised to avoid the slaughterhouse in the meat section, in the division between New Market’s east and west wings.
Although New Market is only open until 8pm, the surrounding area comes alive, after the stalls have closed, under the glow of lights with people eating, drinking chai (tea), and chatting. It is well worth hanging around to soak up the atmosphere.
Another attraction is the famous Nahoum’s, the Jewish confectioner. Nahoum’s in New Market holds a special place in Kolkata confectionery. Founded in 1902, Nahoum’s moved to its present location in the New Market in 1916. The original owner’s grandson, David Nahoum, runs it today. It is one of the oldest and premier confectionaries in the country. Adjacent to it is the Chhamba Lama, an ethnic Tibetan shop selling variety of items like jewelry and artifacts.