Mumbai's Chor Bazaar, which literally means "thieves market", has a fascinating history that spans more than 150 years. Apparently, it was originally called Shor Bazaar, meaning "noisy market", but "shor" became "chor" because of how the British mispronounced the word. Eventually, stolen goods started finding their way into the market, resulting in it living up to its new name! These days it's famous for antique and vintage items. Read on to discover how to visit it and what you'll come across there.
Chor Bazaar (Mutton Street) Mumbai
To find Chor Bazaar, you'll need to venture right into the thick of Muslim Mumbai. It's located on Mutton Street, in the busy market area between S V Patel and Moulana Shaukat Ali Roads, near Mohammad Ali Road in south Mumbai. The closest local railway station is Grant Road.
The area is full of crowded streets and crumbling buildings and can be a little overwhelming. Don't be daunted though, it's quite safe but do be careful of pickpockets.
The shops in Chor Bazaar are open from 11 a.m. until 7.30 p.m., every day except Friday (which is Muslim prayer day). However, the area is still worth a visit on Friday when it comes alive with the Juma Market. This is the real thieves market. From sunrise on Friday morning, vendors cram the lanes selling all kinds of goods, many of them stolen. You'll have to get there early to get the best stuff though.
Prices at Chor Bazaar are very fluid and will depend on how good your bargaining skills are (or aren't!). The usual tips for bargaining at India's markets apply, and you should only aim to pay around half the price initially quoted for the goods. Shopkeepers are very savvy and will quote ridiculously high prices to unsuspecting tourists.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the area is a conservative Muslim area, so do dress in loose clothing that covers your legs and shoulders.
Looking for old handicrafts and antiques? You'll find a colorful variety at Mansoori Curio Shop, at 32 Mutton Street.
Little Stuff Trinkets
Near Moulana Shaukat Ali Road, Little Stuff, at shop 107/A Mutton Street, is aptly named. It's full of -- stuff! You'll find trinkets of all types there. Many items are made out of bronze.
A look around the shop reveals interesting collections of bronze bells, horns, milk pails, and vintage kettles. There's even a vintage bird cage.
Keeping with the bronze theme, there are a number of shops in Chor Bazaar that sell bronze statues of various gods and goddesses, and other bronze sculptures. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are quite old and ornate.
If you're interested, have a hunt around in the shops in the vicinity of 95-120 Mutton Street.
Interested in huge vintage gramophones? You'll find them at Chor Bazaar as well!
One of the most popular items that shoppers seek in Chor Bazaar is vintage Bollywood posters.
There are a few places that sell them. Try A-One Corner at 99 Mutton Street. The owner has a storeroom full of Hindi film posters! Name any and he will most likely have them.
Trash and Treasure
They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and that certainly seems to be the case in Chor Bazaar! You'll find many bric-a-brac stores in the street.
However, the shop located at 117 Mutton Street sells all kinds of items that wouldn't look out of place at a rubbish dump. Think old wheelchairs, a decrepit baby's cot, and a plastic blue toilet seat. Who knows what treasures are tucked away inside the shop!
Does your chair have a missing or broken wheel? Chor Bazaar is the place to come for a replacement. You'll be able to choose from trays overflowing with them. It's not just spare wheels that are available in Chor Bazaar. Plenty of shops sell spare parts, including those for vehicles, machines, and even old phonographs/gramophones.
Another sought-after item at Chor Bazaar is lamps. Some are old and some only look old, some are replicas and some are the real deal, however, there are plenty of unique styles to choose from.
Popular items include antique colonial-era lamps, kerosene hurricane lamps, crystal chandeliers, and glass lamps in an array of eye-catching colors.
The Anwar Lamp Shop at 121 Mutton Street is just one shop in Chor Bazaar with an extensive collection of lamps.
You'll never wonder what the time is at Chor Bazaar with so many clocks on display.
Serious clock collectors will be delighted with items including art deco clocks, grandfather clocks, and antique Smiths clocks (although not all of these are authentic).
The shop pictured can be found at 133 Mutton Street.
Cameras and Vintage Miniatures
Vintage camera collectors will love rummaging though Chor Bazaar! Some of the shops there specialize in selling all sorts of vintage cameras, from box cameras to 8mm movie cameras.
The Camera House at 137 Mutton Street also stocks an eclectic range of vintage miniatures -- cars, trucks, motorbikes, planes, and signs are some of the things that can be found there. The shop also has a collection of old biscuit tins.
Spare Car Parts
Yes, Chor Bazaar has car scrappers too! Hunt around and you'll come across sorts of car parts at cheap rates including wheels, motors, gearboxes, turbos, and steering wheels. Often, the desired part will be removed from the car while you wait!
Need a power tool? Head to Chor Bazaar!
At 150 Mutton Street, you'll find the Parda Tools Center, filled to the brim with power tools of all description. The tools that aren't stacked inside the shop are hanging by their cords from the ceiling and piled up on a table out the front.
On the off chance that you don't find what you want there, check out one of the neighboring shops that have similar items on offer.
Heading along further towards SV Patel Road, around the vicinity of 170 Mutton Street, you'll enter the territory of Chor Bazaar's hardware stores.
Here you'll find rows of stores specializing in cutting tools, including chisels and drill bits. Many are fixed-price stores, so no need to bargain.