Russell Market was an assault on the senses – there was movement everywhere, a cacophony of colors and shapes, making it impossible to decide what to sketch. I was walking around the Russell Market area in mid-July with my fellow urban sketchers. A cool breeze kept us company, as we walked around looking for sketching points. We met at the auto stand, opposite St. Mary’s Basilica. And walked up to Russel Market.
An old, peach-colored building, with Indo-Islamic style turrets and arched windows, greeted us. As I walked in, abundant flower and fruit shops greeted me. The market building also offers pet shops, gardening equipment, dry fruits, toys, groceries, and many other curios.
The areas outside the building are equally fascinating – especially for carnivores – there are fish markets with enticing pabda fish and blue crabs; beef and poultry market across the street; spare auto parts market (Gujar market). For those who don’t want to cook, there are plenty of kabaab and biriyani shops nearby. And, to wash it all down, tea stores and lassi shops.
Russell market is one of the oldest markets in the city. It was built in 1927 by the British, to provide an organized market for its army officials and their families. Its strong pillars had been imported from Britain. Today, the area has about 400 shops. This heritage market was burnt down in 2012 and rose phoenix-like through the efforts of the shop owners.
Delicious Dates and Dry Fruits owner, Mohammad Idrees Choudhury, said the shop has been in his family for over 30 years. The market is a second home to them. This shop is famous for its wide selection of dates – imported from all over the world. I was delighted to find my favorite chocolate-covered ones.