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The digital world may brim with e-editions and portable reader devices today, but nothing truly can beat the joy of finally holding a book you had been long waiting for, or flipping through the crisp pages of a fresh copy, or turning the page only to realise that you’ve just reached the end of your new favourite novel. All the book lovers who can relate, we have brought to you the list of India’s iconic book markets that should totally be on your ‘post-lockdown’ bucket list! By Sushmita Srivastav
Daryaganj Sunday Book Market
There’s a reason why a furore had hit the capital last year when the Supreme Court had announced the closure of Delhi’s favourite book market (also Kushwant Singh’s treasured haunt) at Daryaganj. So much so that the decision had to be called off, and the 20-year-old bazaar for bibliophiles was given a new address instead, at Mahila Haat Ground, Chandni Chowk. Arrive here on any Sunday anytime between six to nine in the morning (yes, you’d need to ditch the bed early to get your hands on the best buys), and rummage for latest copies to second-hand classics. If you’re lucky, you might get a bunch of your favourite books at prices as low as INR 20 per kilogram!
College Street, Kolkata
Kolkata is known for its unabashed love for literature, and the city’s historic College Street tells you exactly why. The largest book market in India (and one of the largest ones in Asia), it has earned itself the sobriquet of boi para meaning the book town. The kilometre and a half long avenue stay dotted with thousands of books of all shapes, sizes, and tastes, and some of the country’s biggest publishing houses. Although Cyclone Amphan may have wiped out the 200-year-old legendary bazaar, for now, we are sure it’s going to be back in no time.
Flora Fountain, Mumbai
If you happen to cross the super busy Veer Nariman Road at 10 in the morning someday, chances are you will have to elbow your way through a gaggle of students, office-goers, and nevertheless, book-lovers. The five-way intersection at the Flora Fountain is Mumbai’s haven of books of all varieties—fiction, non-fiction, pre-owned, rare original copies, academic—you name it. The walls of books dwarf everything around and lure locals and tourists alike, and are available here at dirt-cheap rates!
Avenue Road, Bengaluru
Probably the best thing about the Avenue Road in Bengaluru, other than being a long stretch with over 70 bookstores and 250 street booksellers, is that you can even sell your old books here. With stores that go as long as 300 years back in time, the lane is famous for offering huge variety but is most famous among school students and college peeps because of its massive collection of old and new academic books.
Moore Market, Chennai
Moore Market is Chennai’s most-loved (a bit sleazy) local hot spot for buying everything from a simple charger to valuable antiques. But its most precious asset remains to be its gigantic collection of (as many as one crore, if sellers here are to be believed) books. One of the oldest landmarks in Chennai, the place once bustled with avid readers from all around. Today, what meets the eye is a much-deserted land with closed shops and piles of books eating dust. However, the ones who truly know the value of a good book in the city, still remember its way by heart.