Monday, October 29, 2012

Shopping For Deepawali, Is An EXPERIENCE In Chennai, Usmaan Road!

This post is Women's special!

Ranganathan street, T.nagar, off Usmaan road, where things can be bought at very cheap rates!  

Deepawali shopping had started a couple of weeks back and the above picture is the scene in Ranganathan Street, off Usman Road, in T.Nagar, Chennai! The new lot of sarees are displayed from Mahalaya Amaavaasai before Deepawali in all the shops in T.Nagar.  Here, in Tamil Nadu, Amaavaasai (New moon day)is an auspicious day to start anything good. Next day is called 'kari naal' and it is a bad day to start anything.  The shops are filled with new sarees from Amaavaasai. We should not go to the shops looking for good sarees a few days before and a couple of weeks after Deepawali!  You will be disappointed!

Usman Road, T.Nagar
Deepawali is on 13th November, this year.  Next weekend will be the peak days for saree and dresses for Deepawali sales! We can never go near the counter to have a good look at the sarees! Kumaran Silks and Nalli Silks are the oldest saree shops and they have got steady customers who buy from them for generations.

This is one of the oldest shops in T.Nagar.  This picture was not taken during Deepawali time!
Later on came Saravana Stores, Jayachandran Stores etc., where you can see crowds 365 days a year.  They are famous for selling spoons to sarees and furniture at subsidised rates! Pothy's also is always crowded! Chennai Silks is advertised a lot but the crowds mostly go to Saravana and Pothy's!  The traffic is diverted from 2 weeks prior to Deepawali in Usmaan Road! Even autos will not have space to move in the crowd! We can see cops mingling with the crowd to keep an eye on pick pocketers!

Sundari Silks is in North Usmaan Road (All other shops are mostly in South Usmaan Road).  This area is a bit away from the other famous shops and so a bit peaceful area for shopping.  They have got car parking area which is a big plus point.  Kumaran and Nalli Silks also have got car parking area, but Saravana Store and one more shop, Rmkv, haven't got car parking area.  I don't know how the govt. allowed the huge multi storied stores to do business in this crowded area! It must be money, as usual!

Normal day shopping in Usmaan Road!

Many of my family members shop from Kumaran silks mostly and we do it before the huge crowd starts coming to this area.  Now, Sundari Silks is becoming famous for their quality sarees - exclusive sarees. Only in this shop, we can sit on stools and select sarees! So, naturally, the sarees are a bit expensive, exclusive sarees, you know! Our family mostly go together 2-3 times for shopping...we exchange sarees if we don't like them. Some shops have got space with sunlight, to check the colour of the sarees.  The colour looks different when we see them at home.  We need sunlight to match the sarees and blouses too! Many  air conditioned shops don't provide space with sunlight.

Some shops provide chairs for the old and male customers to sit and wait with children while the women members shop for their sarees.  Some shops don't have them and I heard comments about some people avoiding those shops! It is not easy for men and children to wait for hours, standing.

Most of the shops have got salesmen who had been with them for many years and they judge the customers well and show sarees.  They work in shifts a few days prior to Deepawali.  On weekends - next two week ends - the shops will be open from 6 am itself, I was told and sell upto midnight! The salesmen are given bonus and a couple of days leave after Deepawali.  Some shops never close!

The interiors of most of the shops are beautiful, esp. rmkv.  Nalli is still maintaining the old look, which is nice.

Tulsi Silks in Alwarpet and Radha Silk Emporium in Mylapore are our favourite shops outside Usmaan Road shops. They too sell exclusive sarees without much difference in rates.

We, in my mother's place don't give much importance to Deepawali (Janmaashtami is important for us - Kannadigas).  My relatives don't buy new dresses for this festival.  But in Tamilnadu, wearing new dress is very important on Deepawali day after the traditional oil bath in the morning. Last year we had started our trip to Munnar on the Deepawali afternoon.  I saw everyone  on the road, even in small villages, wearing new dresses and all of them had the happy look on their faces, esp.  the children! My father used to save money in R.D. every month for using for Deepawali purchases for all of us (we had been following Tamilnadu customs after we shifted to Chennai from Udupi!)! It might not have been easy for a middle class family man to spend a chunk of the savings at one time.  But the fathers would do anything to see happiness in their children's faces (We were 5 children!)! We still remember those days when we wore new clothes and went to our relatives' houses to do namaskaar to the elders and collect money! What is your shopping experience in your area?!

Happy Deepawali to all my friends here!

P.S. (30.10.12):  The only draw back in T.Nagar shopping is most of the shops don't have clean toilets.  People come to these shops, esp. for wedding sarees, from far off places and shop the whole day.  They come in groups.  Last week we had been to Kumaran Silks and were waiting for the lift at the ground floor.  The stench from the toilets nearby was sickening.

The quality of food at the Woodlands hotel has deteriorated.  Saravana Bhavan is good, but is always crowded.  One more hotel named BKR, which is a good and neat hotel has come up opposite old GRT in South Usmaan Road. They have got car parking facility too! This is our favourite place for lunch nowadays! One more plus point is, the toilets are clean here!

Picture courtesy: The Hindu and google!


ashok said...

great post...i remember shopping in T nagar and Ranganathan street about 15 years ago !

Destination Infinity said...

I don't like to go to T.Nagar for shopping because it is always crowded. Besides, I can get everything near our place! It's easy for for men to select and buy clothes, you know. I can finish shopping for shirt and trousers within 15 minutes, if I go alone :)

Destination Infinity

SG said...

You made me home sick. My wife always buys her saree from Kumaran. She thinks we can get quality sarees there.

Sandhya said...

ASHOK: We need lot of patience to shop here for Deepawali! But if you are a person who love to watch people and their behaviour/nature, you won't get bored! It is sort of fun watching them and listening to their 'discussions'! But not next weekend!

DESTINATION INFINITY: Yes, I know your area has got all the shops and it is easy to shop there. Yes, tomorrow we are going to get clothes for my husband and son! Travelling time plus maximum one hour is needed (because I accompany them!). Wait, one day you will have this experience! Tell me how you feel, then, D.I.!

SG: Yes, Kumaran (Nalli is good, but somehow we visit Nalli and then come back to Kumaran and BUY!) is famous for quality sarees! She must be missing the shopping fun now!

Renu said...

I love shopping in Tnagar..I find Nallis very comfortable..with their layout and system..Pothys are too big to roam around..My mom and sister like Rasi at MYlapore a lot:)

We also like to wear new clothes for Diwali Pooja.

sharu said...

Hi, maami, a very good post. I like the way you have described the whole T.nagar. You also need to mention how one should fight to go near the counter and to get the attention of a salesman!!!

Shilpa said...

Sandhya, thank you very much for these pictures and the post. I have been in Chennai for a year and I consider it my second home. How much I have roamed TNagar in that one year. Just roamed, not bought much, eaten well. I have visited Chennai several times after my stay and have always gone to TNagar, can't miss it. I was there when RMKV had just started. They now have a showroom in Bangalore as well. I don't know about Sundari silks, wasn't there when I was there last.

My last visit to Chennai was in 2007 and I havae been yearning to make a visit ever since. May be next year.

For me , shopping (or even just window shopping) in certain areas give a certain kind of high and TNagar is one of those areas. I prefer a week day when the area is slightly less crowded.

Bikramjit said...

When I turn up, you got to take me to this place ..

oh my god look at the number of people . so crowded how do people move around ..

so i guess you are doing diwali shoppings then , what all did you buy .. :)


BK Chowla, said...

I had gone to Chennai about twenty years back.Remember vaguely having been to this market place

manjujoglekar said...

Wow! What crowds! But still Deepawali shopping is a lot of fun. :)

If I ever come to Chennai I'll definitely check out the shops you have mentioned.

We have a Nalli here in Mumbai too. Lovely choice of sarees as well as dress materials.

Shail Mohan said...

I have heard so much about the Diwali rush and the shopping frenzy :)Loved reading about it.
Happy Diwali, in advance :)

Swaram said...

Whoa! I only remember seeing Hyd like that during Ganesh Nimajjan.
This is a very helpful post Sandhya for those who plan to shop there :)
I personally prefer non-crowded times to do my shopping :)

R. Ramesh said...

missing all that fun..very nice post boss..wishes

Rahul Bhatia said...

T Nagar is just awesome:)

Zephyr said...

you haven't written about the snacks in one of the cafes in T.Nagar after a tiring day shopping :) I am not very fond of shopping and even had sat with my little niece when we had gone to shop for my wedding. My mother and elder sister did the entire shopping and showed me the clothes after we came home :)

It is nice to see that you enjoy it. My MIL was one who loved shopping even in her 70s! I am hopeless by comparison :D

Krishna said...

informative post...


Sandhya said...


RENU: Nalli and Rasi(Radha Silk Emporium) shops haven't changed much! So, familiar feeling always helps!

SHARU: Yes, I forgot to mention this point! Tomorrow and day after tomorrow, strong people might be able to select good sarees!

SHILPA: So, you know Chennai very well?! Sundari silks is here for the past 6-7 years. It is run by RASI's relatives, it seems. They mostly have good collections!

We too mostly do shopping on working days! Week ends are crowded even if there is no festival!

Now Nalli also has got a showroom in Bengaluru!

Nice to see you here after a long time, Shilpa!

I used to love reading your posts! No time to write now?!

BIKRAM: Sure, waiting to take you there in the crowd, Bikram! It is fun! But these shops are famous for mostly sarees! Let us buy sarees!

I bought a Benares printed silk saree...not very heavy or with zari!

BK CHOWLA: Whoever visits Chennai, visits this area for shopping for their family, Chowlaji! Did you like these shops?

MANJU JOGLEKAR: Yes, these shops are famous for their sarees and dress materials! Most of the shops are very close to each other, so it is easy to visit all the shops to select!

Nalli has got many branches now! Finished Deepawali shopping, Manju?!

Sandhya said...

SHAIL: You have to come and see in person to get the real feel of Deepawali shopping in T.Nagar!

Happy Deepawali to you and your family, including Luci, Shail!

SWARAM: We did our shopping on Tuesday when the crowd was very less! We should not go to this place during week ends and on auspicious days! Tuesday is very less crowded, mostly!

RAMESH: Happy Deepawali, Ramesh to you and your family!


ZEPHYR: That shop has become bigger now, Zephyr!

Your wedding? So many years back! Unbelievable!

I shop for my saree with my husband mostly! He likes to select and his choice is always good! I go again with my sis in law and nieces, at least 2-3 times later! I love to watch people!

KRISHNA: Thanks, Krishna!

sm said...

nice information regarding shopping
beautiful pics

R. Ramesh said...


Krishna said...

i used photo editing software such as photoshop or photopaint to imprint my name

happy diwali to you and your family

thanks for commenting

Roshmi Sinha said...

Nice read. Thanks for sharing. :)

Btw, how many sarees did you buy?

And yes, all those whatevaram sarees need sunlight. Without that, you never know... :)

As for loos, well, Indians lack civic sense. That's a big barrier. The availability of water is another issue.

Sandhya said...

SM: Thank you, SM!

KRISHNA: Thank you and happy diwali to you too!

ROSHMI SINHA: Bought one Benares printed silk saree without zari!

Yes, people also are not bothered about cleanliness and water also is a problem. But they are huge show rooms and many foreigners too visit them.

Rahul Aggarwal said...

i've been to usman road during diwali.. its chaos out there !

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