This January, Kolkata welcomed India’s first floating market. Long seen as a trademark attraction among the Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, the market is a logical step for Kolkata which depends heavily on the Hooghly River.
Backed by the government and inaugurated by West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, on India’s Republic Day, the floating market is home to over 250 vendors. The venture was developed to rehabilitate small business owners affected by urbanization projects in the city, such as the widening of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass — an important road that connects the northern parts of the city to the eastern and southern tips.
The market itself spans a network of some 114 boats and wooden ramps perched on stilts that connect them. The vendors at the floating market sell everything you could possibly want. Flowers, fruits, vegetables, fish, street-food, and even knick-knacks and trinkets can all be found here. There are even a few floating tailors and barbers.
The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority has asked shopkeepers not to throw garbage into the river but plans to use nets to fish out waste such as vegetable peels and fish scales.
Even if you don’t have anything to buy, this is the perfect place to chat with locals, as it has seen hoards of visitors since its inauguration. The floating market in Kolkata is open from early morning until early evening. It is best to avoid mid-day, due to crowds and lack of shade.