New Vasantashram is a lodge built inside Narasimha Mansion, Crawford Market, in 1947.(Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)
New Vasantashram is a lodge built inside Narasimha Mansion, Crawford Market, in 1947.(Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)

Insider’s guide to... Crawford Market

We explore the lesser-known side to Mumbai’s original mall - Crawford Market.
By As told to Poorva Joshi | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON AUG 25, 2016 02:40 PM IST

From a 108-year-old vintage timber store, to perhaps the last block printmaker, we take a non-tourist tour of Crawford Market.

First things first: don’t rely on GPS if you visit Crawford Market. Even the most cutting-edge geo-tracking technology won’t be able to name the narrow lanes accurately. Secondly, harness your communication skills: politely nag for directions and bargain skilfully. Lastly, wear comfortable footwear. We cannot emphasise on the last tip enough.

It’s 5pm on a Friday. The crowd is overflowing: middle-aged women are haggling with vendors over handkerchiefs; students from St Xavier’s College (T-shirt embossed with the college logo) are loitering around a store picking out buckets and soap cases, possibly for the hostel; toddlers are loudly demanding juice at Badshah Cold Drinks.

Also read: Insider’s guide to… Kalbadevi

We make our way to New Vasantashram, a lodge built inside Narasimha Mansion, Crawford Market, in 1947. The entry is hidden between stores of Esbeda and Bombay Shoe Mart. We meet Sujata Rao, the second-generation owner of the lodge. She takes us through Crawford Market to her go-to shops for fabric, block print art, and vintage furniture (the real, non-tourist stuff).

A vintage shot of Narasimha Mansion, Crawford Market. (Courtesy: New Vasantashram )
A vintage shot of Narasimha Mansion, Crawford Market. (Courtesy: New Vasantashram )

Big bag world: Esbeda, the women’s handbag brand, has a showroom on the ground floor of Narasimha Mansion. Prior to Esbeda, a store called the West End Shop was situated across the ground floor. It was a retail store stocking high-end clothes for children and costumes for fancy dress competitions. Rao shares an image circa 1955 of the original Narasimha Mansion, shot eight years after Vasantashram was established.

At Super Block Maker, perhaps the last block printmaking store left in Crawford. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)
At Super Block Maker, perhaps the last block printmaking store left in Crawford. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)

The last of the block printmakers: Established in 1983, Super Block Maker is a shop owned by Mukhtar Bhai on Omar Street, near Khatri Masjid. It showcases wooden blocks with intricate carvings, used to print patterns on fabric. The artists are proficient in carving Indian motifs from kalamkari and Mughal art. Mukhtar claims his is the only shop of its kind left in Crawford Market, and is likely to shut down after his death, as his children are pursuing careers in other fields. Rao, a regular customer at the shop, has used the blocks as door handles at Vasantashram.

Also read: Insider’s guide to... Chhatri Bazar

At Stree Om Timber Mart, MS Ali Road, Kamathipura. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)
At Stree Om Timber Mart, MS Ali Road, Kamathipura. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)

The real vintage store: Shree Om Timber Mart is a 108-year-old timber market at the border of Crawford Market and Kamathipura (on MS Ali Road). Run by Girishbhai Rai, it’s the only wholesale vintage timber store in Crawford Market. You’ll find vintage furniture, acquired from demolished bungalows across Mumbai. Rai and his sons refurbish the stuff and sell it. The oldest artefact is a 1791 cast iron column from the Life Insurance Corporation building at Fort.

The oldest artefact at the timber mart is a 1791 cast iron column from the Life Insurance Corporation building at Fort. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)
The oldest artefact at the timber mart is a 1791 cast iron column from the Life Insurance Corporation building at Fort. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande)

Shobhana Fabrics: This wholesale cotton cloth store is located inside the Crawford Market building. Rao swears by their material and has been sourcing cloth from the store for the last 14 years.

Also read: Insider’s guide to... Bazaar Gate

At Shobhana Fabrics, Crawford Market. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)
At Shobhana Fabrics, Crawford Market. (Photo: Bhushan Koyande/HT)
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
 (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

A calendar of truth and lies: The Weekly Puzzle by Dilip D’Souza

By By Dilip D’Souza
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:52 PM IST
There are plenty of puzzles about liars and truth-tellers
Close
Raza was a founder member of the Progressive Artists’ Group
Raza was a founder member of the Progressive Artists’ Group

Dalmia: Raza’s vibrant works with underlying meanings made him better known

By Navneet Vyasan
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:24 PM IST
Yashodhara Dalmia’s biography on the legendary artist opens up a side to him which was never previously explored
Close
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has had it particularly rough. He last competed in January 2020. He hopes to resume competition this month. (AFP)
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has had it particularly rough. He last competed in January 2020. He hopes to resume competition this month. (AFP)

The Sporting Life: Are we prepped for Tokyo, asks Rudraneil Sengupta

By Rudraneil Sengupta
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:20 PM IST
They’ve waited an extra year, suffered from illness, disrupted schedules and little to no training. And the Olympics are now just five months away.
Close
Smita Patil, angry and unyielding, as Sonbai in Mirch Masala.
Smita Patil, angry and unyielding, as Sonbai in Mirch Masala.

Wonder women: Anupama Chopra picks her top heroines of the silver screen

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:14 PM IST
If not on Women’s Day, when! Here are some of the most fierce, fearless and fabulous female characters to have lit up our screens.
Close
People look paintings during the Frick Collection opening press preview at Frick Madison in the Marcel Breuer building on March 4, 2021 in New York City. - The Frick's permanent collection features old Master paintings and European fine and decorative arts, including works by Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Velazquez and Vermeer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)(AFP)
People look paintings during the Frick Collection opening press preview at Frick Madison in the Marcel Breuer building on March 4, 2021 in New York City. - The Frick's permanent collection features old Master paintings and European fine and decorative arts, including works by Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Velazquez and Vermeer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)(AFP)

Touring the Frick Madison, New York’s newest cultural landmark

Bloomberg, New York
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 03:02 PM IST
The museum’s chief curator takes us on guided tour through the galleries inside the former Whitney (and for a time, Met Breuer), which will house the Frick Collection’s masterpieces while its Fifth Avenue mansion is expanded.
Close
A group of actors dance in a ring of ultraviolet light projected onto a square in Rotterdam from a glowing black orb suspended above them.(Reuters)
A group of actors dance in a ring of ultraviolet light projected onto a square in Rotterdam from a glowing black orb suspended above them.(Reuters)

Dutch artist uses ultraviolet light to zap coronavirus

Reuters, Rotterdam
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 12:45 PM IST
Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde's "Urban Sun" installation seeks to harness ultraviolet light to reduce the amount of coronavirus in the air in busy spaces and lessen the risk of transmission.
Close
People take pictures of a suspected new mural by artist Banksy on a wall at HM Reading Prison in Reading, Britain, March 1, 2021(REUTERS)
People take pictures of a suspected new mural by artist Banksy on a wall at HM Reading Prison in Reading, Britain, March 1, 2021(REUTERS)

Elusive artist Banksy confirms he's behind prison artwork

AP, London
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:56 AM IST
Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind a campaign to turn a former prison in the English town of Reading into an arts venue, after the street artist confirmed that artwork that appeared on a red brick wall of the prison was of his making.
Close
Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes gestures as he speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)
Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes gestures as he speaks of the area musicians he learned the style of the Bentonia Blues from at his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

Photos: In Mississippi, small-town bluesman keeps aging music alive

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:34 PM IST
Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, 73, is the last Bentonia bluesman, the carrier of a dying musical and oral storytelling tradition born in this Mississippi town of less than 500 people. And now, he's a Grammy-nominated artist, with a recent nod in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for Cypress Grove, a record he hopes will help preserve the Bentonia blues long after he’s gone.
Close
Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed to start easing restrictions.(Pixabay)
Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders have agreed to start easing restrictions.(Pixabay)

Berlin's custodians of silence look forward to museums reopening

Reuters, Berlin
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:10 PM IST
Through the cold winter months, Berlin's museum directors have been custodians of silence. With doors closed to visitors due to the pandemic, artworks have languished hidden from view, but now curators are looking forward to reopening.
Close
Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays a quick ditty at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)
Bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes plays a quick ditty at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss., Jan. 21, 2021. Holmes' ninth album, "Cypress Grove," has earned a Grammy nomination for the Best Traditional Blues Album.(AP)

In Mississippi, small-town bluesman keeps aging music alive

AP, Bentonia, Mississippi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 12:02 PM IST
Across the South, the venues — historically owned and frequented by African Americans — have shuttered as owners pass away. Blues experts believe Holmes is the only American running a juke joint owned by his parents.
Close
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will provide technical assistance for the restoration of Jestha Varna Mahavihara. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will provide technical assistance for the restoration of Jestha Varna Mahavihara. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)

Nepal takes up reconstruction of heritage sites with Indian aid

PTI, Kathmandu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 10:31 AM IST
India on Wednesday pledged 24.6 crore for reconstruction of three heritage sites in central Nepal that were destroyed during the devastating April 2015 earthquake.
Close
This image provided by Megan Telfer shows the wide selection of antique Pyrex dishes she displays at her Texas home. Telfer has more than 300 pieces of vintage Pyrex, displayed on three large bookcases. Telfer's 5-year-old daughter has some vintage Pyrex, too. "We don't use 90 percent of it," Telfer said. "I display it." (AP)
This image provided by Megan Telfer shows the wide selection of antique Pyrex dishes she displays at her Texas home. Telfer has more than 300 pieces of vintage Pyrex, displayed on three large bookcases. Telfer's 5-year-old daughter has some vintage Pyrex, too. "We don't use 90 percent of it," Telfer said. "I display it." (AP)

Pyrex and Pink Daisies: Midcentury vintage cookware is back in style

AP, New York
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 06:15 PM IST
Vintage kitchenware is back in style -– pieces from the mid-20th century painted with flowers, bright colors, and specific functions, such as bracketed chip and dip bowls or four-piece refrigerator storage sets.
Close
Annie McNamara, left, and Sullivan Jones wear costumes designed by Dede Ayite during a performance of "Slave Play" in New York. Ayite has earned two 2021 Tony Award nominations for costume design, one for "Slave Play" and another for “A Soldier's Story.” (Matthew Murphy/DKC O&M Co. via AP)(AP)
Annie McNamara, left, and Sullivan Jones wear costumes designed by Dede Ayite during a performance of "Slave Play" in New York. Ayite has earned two 2021 Tony Award nominations for costume design, one for "Slave Play" and another for “A Soldier's Story.” (Matthew Murphy/DKC O&M Co. via AP)(AP)

Tonywatch: Dede Ayite's costumes always 'build up layers'

AP, New York
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 05:56 PM IST
For “A Soldier's Play,” which explores racism within a Black U.S. Army unit, Ayite created special padding in the elbows and knees for actor David Alan Grier, who was frequently pummeled onstage. The soldiers' boots had to look broken in so she handed them out at the beginning of rehearsals.
Close
Sunil Dutt and his handwritten letter in Urdu to Mehrunissa Najma(Twitter)
Sunil Dutt and his handwritten letter in Urdu to Mehrunissa Najma(Twitter)

Personal letters, autographed photos: How Golden Era superstars connected

By Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 03:32 PM IST
Back in the 50s and 60s a young starstruck Bollywood fan, Mehrunissa Najma wrote to her favourite celebrities including legends Sunil Dutt, Saira Bano, Sadhana among others in hopes of autographs. The late cinema lover's hobby has now turned into an invaluable collection of India's cinematic history.
Close
The play will be the first to be staged at SRC since the coronavirus-induced lockdown on March 25.(Wikimedia Commons)
The play will be the first to be staged at SRC since the coronavirus-induced lockdown on March 25.(Wikimedia Commons)

'Giraftari': Shri Ram Centre to welcome back theatre lovers

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 12:57 PM IST
In good news for theatre enthusiasts, the Shri Ram Centre (SRC) will finally reopen its doors to the public on Friday with 'Giraftari', a play based on Franz Kafka's popular novel "The Trial", said the organisers in a statement.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP