Shopping in Sowcarpet: Chennai’s clothing bazaar

Chennai is a storied city with many tales to tell, some going back several centuries. Sowcarpet is one of these stories that make up the fabric of chennai’s history.

How sowcarpet came to be

The theory goes that the name sowcarpet comes from the hindi word ‘Sahukar’ meaning trader or moneylender, a nod to the many businesses that the area is known for.

Many years ago migrants from various of parts of north india, like rajasthan, bihar, up etc. Came to what was then madras to settle down. They had left their homes driven by poverty, drought, and many other factors and madras offered them opportunities in plenty.

Traders and businessmen by profession, the migrants put up shops quickly. Soon, colourful markets that had everything from plastic wares to brass utensils and clothes made their appearance. Sowcarpet grew from a small locality to a bustling commercial district that had both wholesale and retail markets.

The north comes to the south

With the rapid expansion of the north indian business community, most of the local tamilians leased or sold their houses to the businessmen and moved away, which has fostered a strong solidarity among the community members of the area.

This can be seen in the many beautiful jain temples that now dot sowcarpet and in the fervour with which festivals like holi are celebrated. Rows and rows of shophouses, similar to those in singapore, although not with the same wide awnings, line the ground floor of the buildings.

Delightful shopping choices

Sowcarpet may be congested and narrow, but that doesn’t deter serious shoppers in search of that turquoise blue Dupatta With mirrors sewn onto its edges just so or of that perfect set of bangles with exquisite work on them.

Sowcarpet is a magical wonderland for those who are planning weddings or looking for some elegant dresses for celebrations, parties or festivals. Ghagra-cholis Sporting intricate embroidery, heavily brocaded SarisMehendi walasWho can make paintings out of the blank canvases of your palms and feet can all be found here.


Mint street is the heart of it all, and the comparison to chandni chowk in delhi is irresistible. The atmosphere buzzes with energy as vegetable vendors, shoppers, merchants move around all looking for the best bargains.

Lined with an astonishing variety of shops, mint street is a veritable mini-bollywood. Here, you can find everything to the last detail – from the dress that an actress wore in a particular movie to her matching Bindis, bangles, and Joothis Or slippers.

Prospective brides can shop for traditionally embroidered SarisSalwars And Lehengas. And if you are shopping with your fiancé, then there are a wide range of choices in men’s designer Sherwanis And Kurtas. There are professional tailors who will also deliver on the promised date. Pick your pattern, name the outfit, and it will be ready for you without you having to follow up.

Accessories and tchotchkes

Squeezed between all the clothing stores are these tiny shops filled with bangles, bindis, belts, shoes, and any other accessory you can think of.

For brides looking to complete their wedding ensembles, there are exclusive cosmetic shops where you can try and buy lipsticks and nail polishes and, of course, shops where you can buy gorgeous sets of traditional, handcrafted jewellery, are inescapable.

Looking for some gifting options? enter some tchotchke shops bursting with small items that make for perfect gifting. Or buy some of these beautiful pieces for your home.

Round up your shopping spree at sowcarpet by gorging on some delicious ChaatAlong with Lassi Or Chaas. Again, the choices are mind boggling. From extensive gujarati fare to good old sandwiches, but with a twist, sowcarpet has everything revive the hungry shopper.

Evidently, sowcarpet is a place that is well worth spending the better part of your day. And be prepared to spend not just your time. It’s difficult to restrict yourself to “just window shopping” here.


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