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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 Bypass.


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 (canal).


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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