Famous for a lot more than just the temples, Mylapore and Mandaveli are where you can get a close-to-culture shopping experience.
There is something about Mylapore. It may seem a conservative temple area; a haven for pious pilgrims but Mylapore is also a shopping hub if you are game for some heated arguments and bargaining. If you have the ability to weave in and out of traffic (both cars and people) then go ahead. It's so much easier to spot shopping areas by a particular shop or article rather than going by street names.
Starting from Luz, we have:
An excellent shopping centre with on and off sale periods. You can pick up printed tees for Rs. 200 and gorgeous printed kurtis for Rs. 300 during a sale. However, you need to do some digging. And, of course, you need shopper's luck. One day you can pick up loads of clothes and another day you may be disappointed.
When you exit Max, take a left and head for the market lane in front of the ICICI ATM.
What to buy?
An array of bags, watches and pyjamas lined up in a congested street. Man and machine battle it out here for space. So, if an auto honks right into your ear, don't get alarmed.
What to pay?
Do not expect fixed prices here; you will have to bargain. If you are game for street shopping, this is a good place. Bag prices start from about Rs. 150.
Walk up ahead to Mylapore. You can smell fresh mallipu flowers at the turning there (Landmark: Indian Bank atm). You can also observe a quaint little tea shop at the corner there. Watch as they pour 1m long teas and take a break from your shopping stint at Luz.
When you walk ahead from There you can notice:
Kapaleeshwarar Tank Area
On the right are shops with bangles, accessories, footwear and all that a girl needs to dress up. If you are looking for some cheap one-time wear jewellery, this is your place.
What to buy:
Glass bangles are a steal. There are rows of shops on the pavement near the Kapaleshwarar Temple selling a variety of low-end things. But the glass bangles are simply amazing and of good quality. The range is mind boggling. They make a meaningful gift too
What to Pay:
Rs.10-35 per dozen depending on the design. Bargain well. It's just a one-time wear, so don't pay an exorbitant amount. This line goes on for half a kilometre. Do not get stuck at one shop. Move on and explore. If you don't, you will be “moved” by the crowd. Guaranteed.
In front of the temple
What to buy:
Gypsy trinkets and knick knacks. As you explore further, you will find an old maami with a moon-sized bindi on her forehead selling trinkets and gypsy jewellery. She has every colour and every size. From anklets (a rage by the way) to chunky jewellery.
What to pay:
From Rs. 50 to Rs.150 depending on the size. Famous Mylapore sites are Sukra for silver and Saravana Bhavan for idlis.
Ahead is Rasi Silks, your best bet for beautiful silk saris. The street is a shopping hub; it has everything from spices (Ambika Applam Depot) to steel. If you want a break, there's Karpagambal Mess. At first glance, it looks like any other super vegetarian mess. But look around and you will see a “Burrp certification” on their wall. Famous for their mixed pickles and other south Indian delicacies, this place will uplift your spirits. As you exit Mylapore, you can smell aromatic coffee from Sundaram Coffee Works.
If you are shopping for clothes, head to Citi Centre, which boasts a multiplex, an elaborate food court and the best of brands.
Mandaveli is more a residential area than shopping area. Mylapore is the nearest shopping area. But Mandaveli does have a few shopping spots where you can pick up a good bargain.
Mega Mart has round-the-year sales and you can get some good kurtas and jeans. However, the problem with such places is that you have to dig in to find something good. You can't expect a good variety all the time.
Bazaar road has a couple of shops where you can look for things you need for the house.
Rehna is a M.Sc. Visual Communication student at Loyola College.