I hope the new year is treating you well! I somehow felt the blog was getting monotonous with only reviews and DIY posts lately! And so today I’m introducing this new series where I’ll be blogging about my shopping experiences in and around Chennai!
I happened to go on a shopping trip to T. Nagar last Saturday and since then, I’ve been penning down my experience to craft a blog post for you! This is the first time I’m doing something like this – a shopping guide kind of post. (So that you can shop with ease!) I hope you find the post useful. If you do, please subscribe to the blog and leave your comments below!
Date : Feb 18, 2017 – Saturday
The plan! : It is almost 3:30 PM now and I’m planning to pay a short visit to T.Nagar with my aunt Neela! For a long time, I wanted to shop there and do a shopping guide on MABH!
Neela returned home early from the school today. (She’s a teacher!) She lives on the next street and I must tell you she makes a great shopping companion! The main thing is that she is flexible with plans and she tolerates me! And yes, we’ve actually been planning some time like this for a long time now! Ever since she shifted close to my place, we wanted to shop together and this is the first time it is actually happening!
Street shopping?! : I’m really thrilled about this shopping trip! In spite of being a Chennaite all my life, I’ve never been to T.Nagar before to do proper shopping. Maybe once to Pothys but I never went there to shop for myself. I’m bored shopping at Express Avenue literally all my life. I wanted to try street shopping once (especially after I started watching street shopping – sarojini nagar videos on Youtube!) but never got a chance to do earlier. I’m happy that I’m finally doing it today!
Quality? Crowd? : Honestly, I had this apprehension about purchasing things from streets/small stalls (I often doubt the quality and congested crowd is another issue, for me!) and I also had another set of reasons not to shop at crowded places. (like – social anxiety) However, since 2017, I’m trying my best to explore places and be less nervous and I am not regretting my little adventures so far!
Disclaimer : This is a long, picture heavy post! I must also admit that I am not much of a shopper. But, as a beginner, I hope I’ll be able to help you with my best efforts, sharing my shopping haul, hits, misses, good and bad experiences every time I go somewhere to shop! I’m planning to continue this shopping series on the blog and I might travel to other places as well (to shop, click and do pictorial for you!) if you happen to like this series! So, let’s begin.
3.30 PM – Getting ready! : I called Neela and she says she’ll be here in the next 30 minutes! I’ve to get ready before she arrives home so that we can quickly book a cab from Thiruvottiyur, my place, to T.Nagar! (We had to rope her in Babble, my sibling, at the last-minute as she wanted to join so badly!)
Means of transport? : Try at all costs NOT to go by your own vehicle, be it a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler. Parking is the biggest pain there! The place is really crowded. I suggest using public transport or better, call a cab. A train to Mambalam would also be a great idea! (Next time, I’m planning to go by train!) You can easily walk down to the street from the railway station, in case if you go by train. (The railway station is very close to the Ranganathan street!)
What did I wear? : Nothing fancy! I decided to wear this oversized blue men’s tee that I purchased from Max (Express avenue!) the previous day! I paired it up with a simple black track pant, bought from the same place. These are so comfy and I don’t think I’ll feel ever comfortable wearing girly/complicated clothes at a crowded street. I carried a backpack instead of a handbag, again for my comfort! And YES, I tied my hair into a huge bun! (Tip : Wear something in which you VERY comfortable so that you can concentrate on the shopping better. Dressy outfits are for malls; not for street shopping, at least in Chennai!)
4.22 PM : Okay! I wasted 30 minutes arguing with Babble (my sibling!) asking her to get ready fast or not to come with us. The cab just arrived! (Uber is affordable IMO! We paid Rs.250 INR for 3 people!
5.17 PM : We just reached T.Nagar and the place looks crowded since it’s a Saturday! Street shops and food vendors can be spotted everywhere! The place is very lively, colorful and is perfect for a shopping weekend.
I spotted these lovely statement neck pieces on the street as soon as we got down from the cab. (Near Sivaprakasam Street!) I picked this black metal spiked statement necklace for Rs.150. First purchase of the day!
My second purchase was this pair of sandals for Rs.990 from the Dawn Footwear Store. (It looks simple for the price; but feels comfortable during long walks and I needed one like this for so long!)
The sell a good collection of sports shoes and fancy footwear. You cannot expect to shop cheap here, but the quality is definitely good! They sell branded footwear. Neela got a health plus flip-flop and she says she likes it for how comfortable it feels to wear it and walk!
Spotted these on the way!
Jewelry shops are all over the streets! From earrings to bangles, you find everything in T.Nagar. I also spotted these braided hair extensions somewhere at Pondy bazaar – mostly used by Indian brides.
And here’s this Kanchi plaza that welcomes you with new year offers and discounts! However, we didn’t pay a visit since I aimed to cover more of the street shops first! Maybe next time, I’ll go there! It is a 6 storey showroom that sells a vast range of things.
In search of street shops at Pondy Bazaar! : After purchasing the sandals, I felt as if we wasted much time on this pondy bazaar road, nearly two hours wandering here and there, hoping to spot some clothing stores/stalls (I always hear from people how they get lovely stuff there at really affordable prices!) but we ended up finding nothing.
Babble and Neela had tea and butter corn on the way, when I was still irritated/grumpy about us running out of time! It was already getting dark. (The place is full of steaming street food and delicacies! You will never return home hungry!)
Pondy Bazaar or Ranganathan Street? : My bad! Learned from the tea shop owner that the street shops at Pondy Bazaar were relocated to a building/complex long ago. (Naidu hall? Correct me if I’m wrong!) We couldn’t find it either. Nobody was sure about the route. I was majorly disappointed after knowing this but somehow I decided to ditch the Pondy Bazaar plan for the day and we headed to the Ranganathan street instead!
(Tip : If you’re going to T.Nagar for the first time, better call someone you know who had visited the place earlier and ask them about the malls, complexes and the streets in which you can shop better, according to your needs. This will save a lot of your time. If possible, go with someone who has an idea about the place!
BUT, if you still till end up not finding a place that you looked for, make changes in your plan and shop somewhere else – I mean, you’ve got a lot of options in T.Nagar. Explore! I feel that’s what I’m exactly doing now (Ranganathan Street!) and I’ll go to Pondy Bazaar (complex) some other day, if I get a chance.)
It is the most famous commercial street in Chennai that houses countless street shops, textile/jewelry showrooms! During Diwali/Pongal season, it turns the busiest!
I picked two of these track pants from a street shop outside Woodlands, on the way to Ranganathan street (Look for it if you go there!) It is priced at Rs.160 but we got 2 for Rs.250 which is a good bargain/deal. The fabric is of decent quality and I’ll be wearing these at home most probably.
In a street stall situated at Usman road, opposite to Pothys, I found this beautiful full-length cotton tie back gown! It is priced at Rs.300 and the quality is very fine for the price! But I ended up not purchasing it for I’ve already bought many such gowns/dresses in the recent past! (The other side of this stall was a board carrying many silk thread earrings! I told you, these are everywhere!)
This huge pair of earrings is for Rs.70 after bargaining. (Actual price is Rs.90; Neela bargained! I suck at it!) It’s been long since I wore something this big on my ears! I also got these colorful studs for real cheap! Rs.50 for all 3.
7.10 PM : Reached the Ranganathan street finally! We decided not to take an auto from Sivaprakasam street to this place as there were tiny street shops all the way, where we shopped a little! (10 minute walk!)
Though the street is not as long as I expected, there are a LOT of shops and you will actually have a hard time deciding where to shop from. From clothing to accessories and footwear, you get everything here! (Include Paani poori, butter corn, fruit juices etc. to the list!) Did I tell you how bright the street looks even during the night-time?
Mind you, the prices are very cheap at some places and slightly high in other shops. Don’t get tempted with the cheap deals compromising on the quality and, don’t go for overpriced stuff (I mean – overpriced for a street shop) just because it’s a love at first sight. Walk till the end of the street, explore, come back again and then decide what to get! Sometimes, the one you wanted to buy, I mean the very same piece is much cheaper somewhere else on the same street!
Example : Neela got this printed blue kurti for Rs.220 from the first shop that we entered. This kurti is really beautiful for the price we paid! We spotted the same piece for Rs.370 somewhere in the middle of the street. It’s fortunate that she grabbed the better deal. But what if it was the other way around? So I repeat – walk down the street once, or maybe even twice before you actually start purchasing things! This way, you can grab the best deals and you won’t run short of your budget (If you’ve any) to buy more items that you check later.
From the very same shop Neela purchased the kurti, (corner shop, I suppose!) I picked this cobalt blue knee-length dress. It’s sleeveless, plain and looks really vibrant! I think I’ll pair this up with the statement necklace that I purchased earlier. This dress is for Rs.300!
I loved this red turtleneck sleeveless top at the first sight! Picked it for Rs.305 and it is from the store called Shoba. It’s not a street shop; it’s a 3 storey showroom and this is one of the very few places there where I really found western clothes, that too very tiny in number. Rest all the shops carry ethnic or fusion wear which I’m not very fond of. I purchased a couple of other pieces from the same shop – another turtleneck sleeveless dark blue top for Rs.375 and a chocolate brown shorts for Rs.370 (Perfect fit!!)
They had a few jumpsuits as well. But the I disliked the prints and hence, didn’t pick them! Nevertheless, the material was soft and fine; and they were priced unbelievably at Rs.400-Rs.500! (I wish I liked the prints!)
These wedges and flip flops are from a street shop. These are great deals in my opinion! The wedges are priced at Rs.250 and the flip flops, only 100 INR. I picked both at a bargain for Rs.320. (Neela is the best bargainer!)
This sling bag is for Rs.220! I absolutely loved it! The chestnut-brown color and the finish will pretty much pair up with any outfit with ease. I love such versatile bags in my collection! Must buy!
There are a lot of sunglasses/watch stalls, at least ten each, spread across the street! I was little guilty about splurging on eyewear last year (At Fastrack Royapuram & Vision Centre, Parrys!) and hence, to compensate it, I picked these glasses for a very cheap price – Rs.250 for both! One is an oversized nerdy glass that is gray-black in color. Another one is a pair of shaded sunglasses! While these are not the branded ones, they still won’t hurt your pocket and mind you, they photograph very well! (The oversized one – it makes a good driving wear in the dust-filled roads of Chennai!)
Where to shop cosmetics at T.Nagar? : There is this complex called Sridevi at the end of the street (near railway station) which sells branded makeup and skin care products with testers! So if you’re planning for a visit, you can also expect to buy some makeup there along with the clothing and accessories. I spotted drugstore brands like – Lakme, Maybelline, Elle 18, Dazller! There are also tons of jewelry and hair accessories showcased in this complex!
I picked four of these matte lipsticks from Elle 18 (Rs.100 each) – Rockstart Red, Berry Bestie, Deep Pink, Choco Bite! These are newly launched and are not easily available anywhere! I’ll swatch and do a review shortly!
Only street shops?
Honestly, I spotted only 5-6 big malls but many street hawkers and street shops here! (You can shop at the malls if street shopping is not your cup of tea! I’m listing down a few that I checked; there are a few other big stores/malls as well that I might have missed!)
- Pothys (Usman road – close to the street) : for everything traditional; best place to purchase wedding sarees! You can’t go wrong with the quality of the material you get here.
- Saravana Stores (in the middle of the street) : They literally sell everything here! Men/women/kids clothing, accessories, cosmetics – even food, I suppose! I didn’t go there this time; but a must visit store.
- Kalanjiyam (in the middle of the street) : for Churidar material, kurta and ethnic/fusion wear! (Babble shopped a lot here! I’ll check with her and update her haul if and when possible!)
- 70 MM (at the end of the street; near railway station) : This is the only men’s store that I spotted in the Ranganathan street, except for the street shops. I may be wrong but there are very less options for men in this street compared to the availability of collections for women! This store though, sells great quality office/party wear and jeans in very affordable prices – 2 jeans for 900 INR; 3 pants for 900 INR is the current offer! I wanted to shop for M, but I was almost sure that I’d end up buying something either too tight or too loose for him, but never the perfect fit. Hence, ditched that thought and took a note that I’ll bring him next time!
- Shobha (in the middle of the street) : for western wear, tank tops, shorts, dresses, jumpsuits, t-shirts, night suits (they are priced VERY affordably but not everything is of great quality. You must spend some time to pick the best out of the lot!)
Dinner at Anjappar Restaurant!
9.19 PM : It got pretty late when we finally finished shopping! We went to Anjappar (walkable distance from Ranganathan street) to have dinner and I must tell you that the food was terrible!
I remember wanting to go there a couple of years ago, when I went to T.Nagar with Mr.M (Pothys) but we ended up not going there for some forgotten reason. Due to this, I actually was very curious try out their food this time, the restaurant being very famous for NV. But I totally regretted the decision later!
But wait.. Neela and Babble claim the vegetarian food tasted fantastic! (They had idlis, steamed rice, dal and ice cream!) So don’t be afraid to pay a visit to the restaurant if you’re a vegetarian. I had schezwan chicken fried rice and chicken lollipop and for the price paid, I didn’t like the taste/flavor of the food. I really don’t see myself going there again! (When I asked the staff for the WiFi password while leaving, to book our cab, Anjappar restaurant eh en name la maathi ezhudhi ketta maari muzhikuraan! BTW, the restaurant claims free WiFi and the service was poor!)
11.15 PM : We booked a return cab from the restaurant at 10.30 PM (He took my phone and submitted the password!) and returned home by 11.15 PM. Dad was unhappy with us returning this late! So I made sure I’ll plan to start early next time if I go to T.Nagar again. (Starting from home after lunch would be a good idea; so that I can finish shopping before it turns dark!)
So we’ve finally come to the end of this V.E.R.Y long post!
I didn’t think of a budget while leaving home but I ending up spending 4000 INR approx today to shop at T.Nagar; and 1500 INR on food and other expenses! Fortunately, everything is a right fit and I didn’t feel like wasting money! No guilt till now.
But I’m sure I would have ended up with poor quality pieces if we shopped in hurry. To shop in a place like this, you really need to spend at least 4-5 hours to search and purchase clothing and accessories that are decent in quality! As much as I admit how I liked the place for the vast range of clothes at affordable prices, I also disliked it for how there were less to no options for western clothing. You may get lucky or you may not! So plan accordingly, fix a budget and start early. (And don’t forget to bring a lot of cash/change! Card vachu onnum panna mudiyadhu! – Nobody accepts debit/credit cards here!)
I don’t recommend going there during the daytime – Chennai is always sunny, even in February! Start afternoon, shop till evening or night and return home with your goodie bag safely!
I’ll do another post on this series after seeing the reader’s response. I’m planning to write what to and what not to do in T.Nagar when you go there to shop. If you will be interested in reading it or something else, do share your suggestions below!
P.S: It took more than 3 days for me to write, edit and finally publish this post! Please don’t forget to share your valuable inputs/suggestions below so that I can improve the content! Do hit the share button if you find the post useful! It’ll mean a lot to my efforts.
Also, please let me know if you will be interested to read more shopping tours/hauls like this in future and in case if it’s a yes, I’d love to travel to different places to shop! (other cities as well). The more your support on the comment section below, the more I can convince Mr.M to take me/at least let me travel to another city to do shopping guides on MABH! I’d love to hear from you soon! Stay tuned. Bye!