Wonder what to buy from Chennai? Nikita Chawla brings to you Chennai’s finest shopping scenes (in no particular order). Shop as the locals do!
Set in the picturesque panorama of the Coromandel Coast, Chennai has broken stereotypes and transformed into a cosmopolitan city comprising infectiously passionate people, luxury hotels, contemporary restaurants, pubs and clubs and mix of modern retail shopping malls and traditional shopping arenas in the cityscape. From charmingly woven and finest Kanchipuram silk saris to traditional antique jewellery to artistic handicrafts, Chennai is a perfect blend of modern meets traditional. Whatever may be your budget or occasion, one is definitely going to take home something from Chennai. Read on to find out what all you must buy from Chennai.
Pstt:Who wouldn’t want to treat their taste buds at the end of a shopping haul? Therefore, for the love for food, we have also listed the nearest food joint in the shopping area and places to visit. *You’re welcome!*
Famous for sarees, gold, garments and home needs, T-Nagar is conveniently the most preferred shopping destination of Chennaites. T-Nagar has 4 principal shopping areas – Pondy Bazaar, Usman Road, Panagal Park and Ranganathan Street.
Pondy Bazaar has a widespread range of garments, footwear and accessories stores. If you’re someone who loves roadside shopping, mark Pondy Bazzar in your must visit list. The road side vendors have no fixed price. So ladies, put your bargaining skills to test!
Visit Rathna Stores to get home essentials for reasonable prices or opt for Saravana Stores which is one of the biggest commercial shopping store in Chennai. From utensils, home needs to jewellery and sarees, you get them all.
Ladies, you got to admit we definitely want to be proud owners of a fabulous Kanchipuram silk saris! Well, Panagal Park is the best place to hunt the 9 yard sarees for your wardrobe.
Foodie’s escape (T-Nagar):
- GRT Hotel
- Residency Towers
- Accord Metropolitan
- Adyar Ananda Bhavan
- Sangeetha Restaurant
- Murugan Idly Shop
- Bombay Halwa House
- Absolute Barbecues
Also Visit: Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam, a famous shrine of Lord Balaji
Wedding Shopping Tip: When it comes to muhurtham or wedding sarees, Chennai brides prefer buying sarees from Pothys, Kumaran Silks, Nalli, RMKV, The Chennai Silks and Sundari Silks as they have a wide variety of saris to suit their taste and preference. Also, purchasing sarees from them is considered auspicious as the family purchases sarees from them since generations.
Just like family generations inherit heritage properties, jewellery and treasured assets, South Indian families also have sentimental value and cherish when it comes to carry forward their ancestral Kanchipuram sarees. It is considered as a blessing and priced possession also having enormous market value.
Chennai is also famous for its traditional, temple and antique jewellery and Pangal Park is one such place where you get massive variety. Visit Prince Jewellery, GRT Jewellers, Challani Jewellery Mart, OKJ Jewellery and Vummidi Bangaru Chetty& Sons.
From jewellery to sarees, footwear to accessories, and from cheapest to most expensive home needs, you’ll find everything at T-Nagar.
If you’re someone who is brand conscious, then you should definitely head to Anna Nagar. This neighbourhood provides finest brands with great quality at affordable to expensive prices. Well, you wouldn’t burnt your pocket!
Anna Nagar is one of the biggest location in Chennai comprising numerous independent, chain and branded retail shops like Nalli Silks, Kalanikethan, Diva, Damro Furnitures, Angels Cosmetics, Tanishq, Waves, Max, Hi Style, Rasi Silks, Palam Silks, Prima’s Bakery, McRenett, GRT Jewellers, Nathella Jewellers, Louis Philipe, Helios, Poppat Jamal & Sons to name a few. It also has a variety of restaurants and bakery and confectionery stores.
Tip: While visiting Anna Nagar, don’t forget to check out Shanthi Colony. Apparently, it’s one of the happening and most bustling streets of Anna Nagar!
Good Restaurants (Anna Nagar):
- Shree Mithai and Gangotree for chaats. They serve the best authentic chaats.
- DindigulThalakapathiChettinadu Restaurant
- Jonahs Bistro
- Sri Krishna Sweets
- Murugan Idly Shop
- Ayappan Temple, Shridi Sai Baba Temple (off Anna Nagar in Shenoynagar), and Anna Nagar Tower Park
Sowcarpet & George Town
Sowcarpet and its adjourning neighbour George Town is every smart shopper’s delight. These two areas reflect the age old Madras refusing to let go its tradition to modernisation. They comprise lively bazaars comprising vendors, merchants, artisans and craftsmen. Being hub for wholesale trade, items such as electronic gadgets and accessories, electrical items, garments, perfumes, toys, stationary, fruits, dry fruits and nuts, home essentials and décor are traded at economical prices. Locals who wish to purchase north Indian style clothing, rush to Sowcarpet to purchase the latest trend. Sowcarpet’s Mint Street is known to have good variety of north Indian Style ethnic clothing and fashion accessories.
Must buy: Most Chennai peeps purchase fancy party props and décor, bakery items, dry fruits & nuts, elegant trousseau packing articles, wedding cards, et all.
Good Restaurants (Sowcarpet& George Town):
- Locals any day bet on street food especially chaat and sandwiches.
- Kakada Ramprasad for mithai and chaats. Oh yes, badam milk of course!
- Agarwal Sweets for sweets, savouries, samosas and kulfi!
Since Sowcarpet predominantly have north Indians residing (especially Rajasthanis), the neighbourhood has a lot of Jain and Hindu temples. Visit Renuka Parameshwari Temple, Shri Ekambareshwar Temple, Sri Hanuman
Come summer and Egmore’s Cotton Street a.k.a. The Fashion Street is flooded with women buying the trendiest linen clothing. From fashion conscious to budget conscious, the street is flocked with people round the year. The street comprises of vendors displaying vibrant hues and textures where one could mix and match fabrics to beat the heat. Apparently, as we all know Chennai is hot most of the year; the Fashion Street gives generous scope for fashionistas to sort their summer ready wardrobe.
Tip: There is ample room for bargaining. Prices per metre here almost Rs.30 onwards! *Woah!*
Good Restaurants (Egmore):
- Hotel Ashoka (try South Indian sapaddu)
- Hotel Ambassador Pallava
- Hotel Sangeetha
- Ajnabi (for chaats at Fountain Plaza complex)
- Flower Drum
- The Government Museum
- Co-optex is TN Government showroom encouraging the craftsmanship of handloom weavers. Each fabric is rich in quality and one could pick sarees from wide range of hues, textures and designs.
Chennai is the most sought after city when it comes to temple jewellery. Many jewellers seek inspiration from Chennai jewellers when it comes to traditional antique temple jewellery. Chennai’s culture and deep rooted tradition is reflected in the jewellery designs. Chennai wasis, hands down any day prefer investing on gold!
*Shares are subjected to market risks! Gold investment? Check!*
Gopalapuram is considered one of Chennai’s posh residential and commercial neighbourhood and its Cathedral Road is known to be a high street luxury destination. Majority jewellers such as Prince Jewellers, Khazana, Bapalal& Co Jewellers, Jaipur Gems, Chennai Diamonds, Orra Jewellery, Tanishq among various others. Cathedral Road is also famous for designer retail stores such as Mokshaa, Kay – The Fashion Bay and KalpaDruma.
Pstt: Chennai brides definitely visit Cathedral Road to purchase their muhurtham jewellery!
Insider Tip: This neighbourhood has a wide variety of the restaurants serving the yummiest food.
Good Restaurants (Gopalapuram):
- Hotel Woodlands for authentic south Indian food especially sapaddu
- Copper Chimney
- Zaras– The Tapas Bar
- Lloyd’s Tea House
- Gangotree for chaatsAmaravati for Andhra food
- Hotel Savera
Also Visit: St George’s Cathedral
If you’re someone who swears by high street shopping then Nungambakkam is one such place you shouldn’t miss! This neighbourhood comprises commercial retail stores, government offices and foreign consulates, star hotels, art galleries, designer boutiques and like they say a rich man’s posh residential place.
Considered every fashionista’s stopover, Nungambakkam’s Khader Nawaz Khan (KNK) Road has the swankiest, classiest and sassiest luxury retail brands. Wills Lifestyle, Naturally Auroville, Kalanikethan, The Raymond Shop, Gabbana Life, Evoluzione, Gatsby Collection, D’Decor, Lawrence & Mayo, to name a few. So what are you waiting for girls! Pick up your Vogue shades, those ATM cards with yourlatest Gucci bags and rush to KNK!
Good Restaurants (Nungambakkam):
- Bombay Brasserie
- Amadora Gourmet Ice Cream & Sorbet
- The Marina
- The Taj Coromandel
- Sandy’s Chocolate Laboratory
- Cream Centre
- Hotel Sangeetha
- Hotel Palmgrove
- Mana Andhra
- Tuscana Pizzeria
- Delhi Highway
- Crimson Chakra
- Malls – Bergamo Mall & Ispahani Centre
- Art Galleries – Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai Art Gallery, Apparo Galleries among various others.
- Discover incredible potpourri of classical and contemporary art, home décor, jewellery and couturewear at Cottage Industries Exposition
- While shopping, avoid wearing synthetic clothes. Opt for linen garments that are breathable and comfortable yet fashionable.
- Wear minimum make-up while shopping.
- There is immense scope of bargaining if you opt for street shopping.
- Apparently, the language would be an issue while conversing with local vendors. Hence, shopping with your local friend or acquaintance could save you a few bucks!
- While you set to any shopping destination, do your homework regarding the approximate price of the article you wish to buy so as to avoid paying excess price for the product.
- Make sure you have sufficient cash along with ATM cards if you wish to indulge in both retail and street shopping.
- Since Chennai is warm most of the year, shopping might turn into a task for you. Therefore, keep yourself hydrated while shopping by having water regularly along with coolants such as fresh lime juice, tender coconut, water melons, lassi and khus.
Shop to your hearts delight and do take away souvenirs from Chennai.
Come back soon to nammaooru! (Also read: 20 Reasons you should visit Chennai at least once!)
P.S. Dear Chennaites, our shopping is spread in various locations. Therefore, for the convenience of the tourist, in no particular order, we have listed the above shopping areas.