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Floating Market of Kolkata: Tradition and Vibrance on Water

With its distinctive fusion of history and
contemporary, Kolkata never ceases to astound its citizens and tourists. The
Floating Market of Kolkata
is a hidden gem that perfectly depicts the spirit of this dynamic city among
the busy streets and historical sites. The Hooghly River Floating Market comes
to life as the sun slowly rises above it, illuminating the river with a golden
colour. It’s a sight that takes you back in time, where venerable customs
coexist with the zeal of a humming marketplace.


In this article, we’ll explore Kolkata’s Floating Market
and the importance & craze of the place. Let’s get started.


A living testament to
Kolkata’s rich cultural tapestry


A live example of Kolkata’s diverse cultural
heritage is the Floating Market, also known as “Bada Bazar or Patuli
Floating Market,” among the local community. It serves as a poignant
reminder of the city’s long-standing relationship with the river, which has
always been its lifeblood, nestled within the busy Howrah Bridge.


The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority
created this artificial floating market at Patuli, Kolkata, India. The market
was established in January 2018 and was an immediate success. It was developed
at a cost of 10 Crores across the canal next to the Eastern Metropolitan


The beginnings of the city and the history of
the market are connected. It was a major trading centre during the colonial
era, where products from all over the world were traded. The market changed
over time into a refuge for regional goods, and it is now regarded as one of
Kolkata’s most treasured attractions.


An atmosphere unlike
any other


It’s already an adventure to get to the Floating Market.
The wooden boats’ mellow chugging serves as your background music as you go
closer to the lake. You may go to a different era on board these boats, which
offer more than just transportation.


Around 100 boats and more than 200 shops are
present on the market. The boats are separated into sections based on what they
are selling and are connected by wooden walkways. In close proximity to the
Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, the water body is 24,000 square metres, is 500
metres long, and is 60 metres broad.


You are immediately surrounded by a unique
environment as soon as you get into one of these boats. Freshly picked veggies,
the aroma of spices, and the eye-catching colours of the fruits combine to
create a sensory symphony that draws you in right away.


Fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits are divided
into four different areas. Each boat has two stores, and the owners offer a
variety of goods there, including fast food, tea, flowers, fish, veggies,
fruits, and flowers. However, the sales are dropping (as of 2020) since there
are more tourists visiting and fewer people buying.


The market is a
kaleidoscope of colours


A rainbow of colours fills the bazaar. A
patchwork of shadows is formed on the wooden boats by repurposed saree canopies
that flutter in the wind. Warm grins and energetic gestures are used by the
vendors, who are dressed in traditional Bengali garb, to invite you.


Crisp green spinach, scalding red chiles,
golden turmeric, and aromatic ginger are just a few of the incredible varieties
of vegetables that can be found here, all expertly arranged in bamboo baskets.
The variety of Kolkata itself is reflected in this visual feast.


History from the
Beginning to the Amphan Storm


In January 2018, the market began with around
112 boats and over 200 shops. An underground sewer network was constructed at a
total cost of 4 crores, while 6 crores went towards developing the market. For
the benefit of the customers and retailers, two bodies of water were combined
and outfitted with waterproof wooden pavements, beams, and pathways.


For around two years, everything went well.
The year 2020 saw a downturn in this area, sadly. Sales that had been
increasing gradually started to decline before taking a significant turn.
First, the lockdowns and limitations brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic proved
to be challenging for the store owners. Cyclone Amphan made a significant
worsening of this miserable scenario. The area suffered severe damage from this
powerful hurricane.


All boats and businesses had closed to the
tune of 90%. Large-scale renovations began in October 2020. The first phase saw
57 boats rehabilitated, and following phase II, there were about 100 boats for
sale. The government of West Bengal invested three crores in repair work.
Apparently, migratory birds were pushed out of the area as a result of the
lights utilised by the municipal government and store owners.


Feel an instant
connection with the heart of Kolkata


Its street food vendors are one of the
market’s most appealing aspects. The greatest of Kolkata’s street food culture
can be enjoyed right here, from delectable “puchkas”, also known as
pani puris, to filling kathi rolls. Your senses are tantalised by the scent of
hot, freshly fried fish and the sizzle of mustard oil. Like its name,
“Kolkata, City of Joy”, this place will make you feel true joy.


Also, don’t miss the chance to have some
“jhal muri,” a traditional Bengali delicacy composed of puffed rice,
mustard oil, and a variety of spices. You’ll instantly feel connected to the
soul of Kolkata as you indulge in its flavours.


The value of human
connection and community Spirit


The strong sense of community that exists here
is what really makes Kolkata’s Floating Market unique. The traders are not
simply dealers; they are also the stewards of a tradition that has been passed
down through the years. Each transaction is characterised by a level of trust
and camaraderie that is uncommon in today’s fast-paced society.


The dealers’ companionship will be evident as
you move around the market. Sharing meals and light conversation, they assist
one another with loading and unloading cargo. You are reminded of the value of
human connection by this touching scene.


A magnetic pull that
transcends generations


There is an allure to the Floating Market of Kolkata
that cuts across generations. By joining their parents in the market, kids may
learn about the history and culture of the city. Older people tell stories
about the market’s heyday when it was a centre of international trade.


Painters and Photographers swarm here to
capture the kaleidoscope of hues and feelings that dance on the water’s
surface. Every picture and brushstroke aims to capture the market’s ageless
combination of custom, business, and community.


A resilient testament
to Kolkata’s unwavering spirit


The Patuli Floating Market, which was opened in January 2018
with much hoopla by Firhad Hakim, was hailed as Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee’s “dream project” that was “inspired” by
Thailand’s renowned floating marketplaces. It now appears desolate with
dilapidated infrastructure since boats are stored in the 500-meter-long lake


Despite continuing to prosper, the Floating Market
encounters difficulties as the world around it quickly changes. Pressure on
this long-standing practice has been increased by contemporary infrastructure
developments and shifting consumer tastes. The fact that it still exists,
though, is a tenacious example of Kolkata’s enduring spirit.


From around 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., the market is
available to the public every day. However, the market appears to be operating
normally. For example, measuring and weighing vegetables on boats and
cleanliness concerns have been a couple of the challenges.


Despite post-cyclone reconstruction being
carried out at a cost of 3 crores, the market did not become as energised as
previously. The lack of upkeep is another factor in the decline of visits to
this location. The bridges of the market are in poor shape. Visits here are a
little risky, according to some. Cleaning the market’s premises receives no
sufficient attention.


With each passing day, the floating market’s
fame fades. We hope that soon the necessary repairs will start, and the store
owners will be able to do legitimate business as previously.


Not only do you leave with a bundle of fresh
vegetables, but also with a bit of Kolkata’s spirit when you say goodbye to the
Floating Market.
A setting like this sticks in your mind, beckoning you to go back and
experience its distinct appeal once more.


A market
that is more than just a marketplace


The floating market of Kolkata is more
than simply a place to buy and sell; it embodies the spirit of the city in all
its live, breathing glory. The heart of the city beats in every deal and every
smile at this place where the past and the present coexist. Tradition and
modernity merge here. The act of experiencing it entails setting out on a trip
through time and culture, and you will return home with a lasting memory of
Kolkata. For this reason, the next time you find yourself at the City of Joy,
don’t forget to embark on a boat and cruise along the Hooghly while letting the
Floating Market enchant you.

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