This vs That Society

Sowcarpet or T Nagar: Which is Chennai’s favourite shopping destination?


This time, kachoris race vegetable omelette dosas and bandhanis take on Kanjeevaram silks, as Sowcarpet and T Nagar tussle to be the best shopping destination in the city

One of the perks of living in close to Sowcarpet is that when the shopper in you is pining for vibrant bandhanis, ornate jhumkas and the trendy jootis you have been eyeing on Pinterest, you don’t need to break a sweat over train or air tickets to the Aravallis. Hop into the Metro or the bus to Sowcarpet and here you are, a slice of India’s West wedged comfortably in the city, notorious for sending its visitors back with hands and tummies fuller than when they step in.

Gauzy glimmering fabrics and accessories ranging from the minute to the massive, make this a holy land for brides-to-be, while the rows of homeware shops and dry fruit stacks call out to every passer-by.

As you walk on the narrow lanes, alongside cycle rickshaws, tearing your eyes from one tantalising shop window to the next, snatches of conversations in the endearing accent unique to this quaint neighbourhood will flood your ears; the scent of warmkachoris will sootheyour nostrils and the sight of vintage architecture will keep you enraptured.

This melting pot of cultures is a multisensory experience! Speaking of melting pots, anybody on a sultry shopping session here can take a break to have a glass of steaming badam milk, guaranteed to refresh them for their next round of retail therapy.

Shopping here is made of such small joys — a family outing with something for everybody to relish. Sowcarpet is not where you hurriedly scamper from one shop to another to check off items on your wishlist. Gawk at marble columns and intricate zardosi patterns or wait patiently for your turn at the jalebi queue, but go back with fond memories, bags of goodies and stories to share all the same.

— VishnuPriya Viswanathan only takes breaks while shopping, if it is for pani puri-eating contests

Sowcarpet or T Nagar: Which is Chennai’s favourite shopping destination?

Madam, ambadhu rooba dhaan madam,” the hawkers in T Nagar yell as you pass their carts laden with glitzy earrings, wigs and colourful bangles. Make your decision fast, else the momentary pause will sweep you along a sea of sweat and determined shoppers, the latter making no apologies about their haste. At this shopping paradise in the heart of the city, time moves fast, spurred on by the wheels of commerce.

This market is where the women feverishly search for the right shade of Kanjivaramsilk, while their shrill cries almost sound like harmonious cacophony to your ears. Here, you can step into Ranganathan Street for a plethora of fashion stores, Usman Road for jewellery or Panagal Park, to unwind at a luscious green space at the core of the bustling commercial neighbourhood. And as you manoeuvre your way through giant stuffed toys and straying cows, listen for the faraway notes of a thillana and keep your eyes peeled for the Art Deco houses nestled among the rows of trees; the sweeping porches and circular windows whisper many stories of the neighbourhood’s vibrant history.

Here, fancy outlets are squashed between the roadside vendors, but don’t worry if you head to the swankier stores, this area makes no judgements on your capriciousness. A frenzy that is only broken by the power of food, one can’t miss the aroma of filter kaapi and masala bonda that wafts from the crowded Balaajee Bhavan. Sowcarpet may have the upper hand on kachoris, but here the vegetable omelette dosa from Kannadhasan Mess sits proudly, a testament to the eclectic character of the neighbourhood.

Even as the sun sets, T Nagar bustles on, as a reflection of the city’s infectious energy. Although, the hawkers have shifted to the nearby Corporation Complex and a swanky new pedestrian plaza has taken their place, the neighbourhood remains to be a microcosm of Chennai’s culture and history. Leave with colourful memories and trinkets.

— Aditi Subramanian’s bargaining skills often find her buried under bags of clothes she did not intend on buying

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 7:24:23 AM |

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