It is just another day for the shopkeepers arranging sacks of marigolds and jasmine, weaving garlands and binding bouquets together as the people start coming in, looking for the best flowers in the city. It’s 4 AM, and the day has begun at the Ghazipur Phool Mandi.
India, with all its color and chaos, has a habit of holding on to traditions and the people have done a great job in maintaining the culture that comes with marketplaces. People flocking shops at the break of dawn, a huge ruckus of bargaining voices, an aroma of flowers mixed with the sounds of cycles and rickshaws – a collection of all this creates an aura that is hard to let go of. And if one wants a real experience of this, there is no place better than the Ghazipur Phoolmandi at its earliest hours.
The essence of the flower market
Not a tourist destination, but in fact as the largest wholesale flower market in Asia, the Ghazipur Phool Mandi caters to the needs of a wide range of customers hunting for all sorts of flora and fauna in the city. The peak business hours start as early as 4 AM and continue until 6 AM, after which the rush hour slows down. By 8 AM you will find the market empty and done with business for the day.
The flowers are not only cheap being at wholesale prices, but they are fresh and ready to bloom. Daily, people come in from different parts of the city and order bundles of flower arrangements in bulk going out to various other places for business – such as other smaller mandis, flower shops, temples, for large corporate events and wedding functions all around Delhi, NCR.
Small vendors and local florists make up a small part of the customer base. There is a long list of event managers, wedding planners, and floral designers who flock up to the place to avail the freshest flowers of the stock.
The exotic variety of flowers
The most impressive thing about the Phool Mandi is the variety of flowers in this place. The supply source of the market is not just the different areas of India but also other countries including Thailand, China, and Holland.
The flowers range from roses, marigolds, lilies, motia, lotus, sunflowers to exotic varieties of orchids, anthuriums, daisies, irises, and gerberas. Besides these, there are many other rare varieties of flora and fauna available which makes this marketplace truly unique even for the most uncommon finds. The amount of colors and smells that this place holds, is a feast to the senses and a visual delight for a photographer.
The charm of bargaining
Let’s focus on one of the principal features of any Indian market, bargaining. In the phool mandi, it is not a surprise to hear an uproar of sellers and buyers at the wee hours of the morning. It might be a surprise to some people, that a transaction could look like a fight is in progress, but most people would find a traditional marketplace in the country incomplete without it.
The specialty of the phool mandi is that the prices go down as one goes in the interior parts of the market. The prices of the highest quality flowers can be reduced up to 5 times if one is patient enough to take a trip throughout the market.
Best season to visit
There is a factor of on-season and off-season that one must consider before visiting the phool mandi. The time of September to February is considered the peak season for the flower market when one can expect a surge in prices.
The other months will not make much of a difference in the appeal of the place, except for the easing of prices. However, the peak season is the time that one can enjoy the place in all its floral glory with exotic, seasonal selections of flora and fauna from all over the world.
How to reach & the place around
The Ghazipur Phool Mandi is located in the Zorawar Singh Marg, Tis Hazari, near the Anand Vihar ISBT.
- The place is accessible via the Anand Vihar Metro Station.
- If you plan to buy in bulk, feel free to drive up to the mandi in a big car as there is plenty of free parking space on the mandi grounds.
Just like any other marketplace, street food is something to look forward to. Since getting to the phool mandi should always be the first task of the day, it should be accompanied by a steaming cup of chai to keep the energy level going.
The small food joints – with their aroma and crispy sounds – are always welcoming people who find themselves in this place. And for tourists, this could be the best chance to know India in its most original, behind-the-scenes form.
On a parting note, in an age of commercial malls and department stores, traditional marketplaces with winding roads and lanes such as these could feel like a refreshing choice. It is still one of those parts of India that reek of nostalgia and welcome others who want to feel the same. Indeed the Gazipur Phool Mandi, while the city is still waking up, is a sight to behold. Because after an experience like this, the little sleep that one missed out on would be worth it.
Author: Sarasi Ganguly | Cover Artwork: Sarthak Grover | Trip credits & Photography: Shraddha Gupta | Video Credits: Dwaipayan Dhawa