One of Mumbai's largest markets, gritty and loud Chor Bazaar is packed to the brim with second-hand items, from old furniture to antique bric-a-brac. Its name translates to "thieves market" and according to a local running joke, anything you lose in Mumbai will eventually make its way here. Rest assured, though: Most of the goods aren't actually stolen.
A maze of narrow streets crammed with storefronts, Chor Bazaar is an oftentimes packed market full of all sorts of items and the fast-moving wooden hand carts that transport them. Out-of-town visitors are unlikely to want to purchase huge pieces of furniture, but many smaller items here could make unusual souvenirs. Bargaining is a must, and while plenty of travelers visit independently, it’s possible to join an organized tour to help navigate the hectic market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Dress conservatively, covering your legs and shoulders, as the market is located in a predominantly Muslim area.
- Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to walk; wheelchair users might find getting around this market a challenge.
- Don’t hesitate to haggle. It’s part of the Indian shopping experience and expected in this market.
How to Get There
Chor Bazaar is located in South Mumbai, just north of the Bhuleshwar Market and a 15-minute walk west of the Sandhurst Road railway station. The market is easiest to get to by taxi or as part of an organized tour. By car, it's about 20 minutes from the tourist hub of Colaba or about 15 minutes from Chowpatty Beach.
When to Get There
Many of the shops and stalls at Chor Bazaar are open Monday through Saturday around 11–8, though Muslim-owned shops sometimes close on Fridays for prayers. It’s best to visit first thing in the day when temperatures are cooler. You’re also likely to get good bargains if you’re the first customer of the day, which is considered auspicious according to local tradition.
How the Market Got Its Name
While many believe that Chor Bazaar was once a resale spot for stolen goods, its unsavory name may have come from a simple misunderstanding. The market may have been called "Shor Bazaar" (noisy market), but British settlers mispronouncing its name consequently morphed it into "Chor Bazaar" (thieves’ market).