A market known by many names, Krishna Rajendra Market, KR Market, the City Market and the Flower Market.
This market, named after former Mysore ruler Krishnarejender Wodeyer, is one of the largest wholesale markets in India and was started by the British during the colonial period after realizing the lack of trade that existed within the country. Situated in a strategically accessible location within 2km of the city’s train station, people come from the outskirts of the town as well as neighboring states to purchase and sell their goods. You’ll find a vast range of colorful items for sale, everything from flowers, fruits and vegetables, spices, dry products, machinery and tools, household items and ritual offerings. Poorly maintained, trash-ridden paths where cars and bikes narrowly drive through crowds of people, lead into the three-story concrete building which houses the flowers, vegetables, home items, and tools.
BEST TIME TO GO
Farmers start bringing in their flowers and produce as early as 3 am, and vendors from around the city come to buy their supply shortly after that. Get there super early to catch all the set-up and action, or else plan to arrive a bit later around 10/11am once it has quieted down especially if you’re bringing the kids along. If you do come early, keep in mind that people are busy buying and selling and might not be bothered that you want to take the perfect picture in the middle of the aisle. The narrow lanes will be crowded, and people carrying large bags will definitely bump into you. Sundays are the busiest day as people come from near and far as well as the day before festivals. The market winds down in the evening around 8 pm. While there are a lot of sights to take in, it isn’t a huge market, and you could see everything in 45 minutes to an hour.
VINE TIP: Have visitors in town? KR Market is a must-see place but going on a weekday might be a little less overwhelming for first-timers in India.
WHERE TO GO
Start from the SJP Road (Silver Jubilee Park Road) entrance and make your way from the Dargah Hazrat Syed Pasha Qadri Shaheed (a shrine built over the grave of a religious figure). This shrine is open to everyone so feel free to look in through the open doors or pop in. Be sure to check out the roadside dentist located outside the shrine for any dental work you may require… Head across the street and enter the market street where you’ll immediately smell the spices for sale. Up a few steps, you’ll soon you’ll reach the fruits section where beans lay in piles up to your waist and limes, apples and other fruit are magically balancing on one another. If you head to the right, you will soon come to the steps which lead you into the large concrete building on your left. You’ll find tools and mud pots, and cooking materials on the top floor, dry goods, ritual offerings and religious artwork on the upper ground floor and flowers and vegetables on the lower ground floor. In the middle of the building, you will find a courtyard filled with flowers. Vendors are crammed in the hallways weighing, cutting, arranging and transporting flowers into garlands. Watch out for the occasional spritz of water as men and women throw water on their items to keep them fresh. Once you back come around to the outside, you can continue through to see a large selection of stalls selling housewares, tools and other random items.
If you continue to follow Avenue Road away from SJP Road, you’ll find yourself walking past SP Road, also known as Spare Parts Road where you’ll find electronic goodies at discounted rates. Avenue Road itself is one of the busiest commercial areas known for its hundreds of second-hand, wholesale and retail bookstores. Around 2km from KR Market, you will find yourself in Chickpete.
The best way to get here is to be dropped by cab or private car as the congested roads are tough to park on. Have them drop you at SJP Road near the temple and start from there.
VINE TIP: Those perfect cones of colorful powder you’ll see are called kumkumas and are used to keep negative energy away by applying it to the forehead (this is one of the ingredients of the powder that is thrown during the Holi festival)
WHAT TO BRING
Make sure to wear non-white shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as the paths in the outdoor area can get very muddy after it has rained and the floors of the flower section can be covered with excess flowers, leaves, and trash
Wet wipes are always a good idea to have on hand
It’s good to have some bottled water handy in the crowded market especially in the hotter months, there are a few places outside the market which sell drinks but once you’re inside it’s difficult to find
A bag that can entirely close/zip– we haven’t heard of too many people being pickpocketed here, but here as with any place where you’ll be sharing personal space, it’s never a bad idea
Small bills in case you would like to purchase any flower garlands or other items
A camera to photograph this vibrant, colorful market and the lovely and hardworking people who sell their lovely products
“I GIVE YOU BEST PRICE! ”
Something that we love about KR market compared to other markets we’ve been to in South East Asia and the Middle East is that there is very little pressure to buy anything from the vendors. They are happy for you to look and photograph their items and you may feel like people are staring at you, but you won’t be harassed in any way. Both shoppers and sellers may ask you which country you are from, say that they love you, or just wave hello. Some merchants are even happy to call you over (especially to children) and give you a small flower or even a piece or fruit and will refuse payment if you try. We hope that the kindness and integrity of these vendors remain for years to come!
VINE TIP: You may hear floral vendors making strange sounds, different sorts of cries and yells. Each vendor has a unique call which help customers remember where they are located in the crowded labyrinth of the building.
Main Photo from The Vine BLR