Ahmedabad’s Gujari Bazaar

Every Sunday, thousands of people flock to the eastern bank of river Sabarmati where a weekly market takes place near Ellis bridge. Known locally as Gujari bazaar or Ravivari bazaar – ravivar meaning Sunday in Gujarati – this weekly market has taken place for more than 600 years. In the past few decades, the wind of modernisation has swept through Ahmedabad but the Gujari market has stood strong – even as fancy air-conditioned malls failed to lure Ahmedabadis.

The weekly market founded in 1414 by Ahmed Shah – the founder of Ahmedabad – operated on Fridays and was called Khaas (special) Bazaar or Sukravari – Sukravar meaning Friday in Gujarati. Since its inception, the location of Gujari bazaar has shifted a few times. It was spread between Teen Darwaza and Bhadra fort at its inception. The market eventually moved near Sidi Saiyyed mosque – one of the most famous landmarks of Ahmedabad. In 1954, the bazaar was shifted to the riverbed where it still takes place parallel to the old city wall between Ellis bridge and Sardar bridge.

The development of Sabarmati riverfront project once threatened the market with eviction from its current location for the ‘beautification’ of the riverbanks. Although the shift did not happen, Gujari bazaar did change to its current form that appears more organised, to say the least. Many vendors now have elevated concrete platforms to host their shops. Visitors have more walking area and ample parking space. Public toilets are also present. With the development of the project, however, Gujari bazaar has also received a new identity – now it’s called Riverfront market.

Referred to as Ahmedabad’s chor bazaar (thieves market) by some, Gujari bazaar has always been associated with used items – the word ‘gujari’ itself means ‘second-hand.’ Slowly walk around the market and you should know why it’s called ‘gujari’ bazaar. Most vendors sell used goods, although you can also find some items new. Many products sold new are crafted by the vendors themselves.

“What exactly can you buy at Gujari bazaar?” That question requires you to visit it yourself and see. Antiques, books, cameras, watches, electronics, computer parts, cellphones, radios and TVs, clothes, beauty products and toiletries, perfumes, furniture, home decor, kitchenware, toolkits, gym equipments, and spare parts are some items that are usually up for sale and are popular among buyers. Looking for an old typewriter or a working gramophone? You might get lucky at Ravivari. The last section – which is also the busiest section – of the market caters to people interested in trading animals and birds like goats, sheep, rabbits, pigeons, chickens, and cocks. Ask around, look closely and you might find what you are looking for.

Regular shoppers, students, collectors, photographers, and curious tourists – Gujari bazaar sure attracts everyone. Over the many visits in the past few years, I have observed the thriving Gujari bazaar of Ahmedabad. I have also been a shopper there, finding some old analogue cameras among other things that interested me. If you visit Gujari bazaar, you should know a few things – take good care of your valuables, don’t shy away from bargaining hard – it’s accepted and expected, and pay at least one more visit.

This project started post ‘lockdown’ in late 2020. I had just returned from Nepal and visited the Gujari bazaar one Sunday, making a deal to buy a camera next week. Within that week, the situation started getting worse, forcing the closure of the market indefinitely. On my visit to the market following Sunday – unaware of its closure – I saw this vast open space, waiting silently to welcome people once again. When the market re-opened, I began photographing it, in an effort to preserve the chaotic beauty of this bustling market in pictures. This project is a part of my another ongoing project – Portrait of A City: Ahmedabad.

Years: 2020 – Ongoing

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October 2021, Ahmedabad: A wooden box among other things for sale at Sunday market
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman checksout a decor piece at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: Old photo frames among other things are up for sale at Gujari bazaar
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Discarded spectacles and belt buckles for sale
January 2022, Ahmedabad: Old enamel tins being sold at Gurjari bazar aka Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Discarded lighters for sale at Sunday Market
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A book vendor at Sunday market goes through a children’s encyclopaedia
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman selling used TV, cellphones, and other things at Gujari bazaar
January 2022, Ahmedabad: A vendor sitting under a giant umbrella on a sunny day
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor tries to fix a used copper coil
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor checking old hammer
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman tries to fix a used telescope at Sunday market aka Gurjari Bazar
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor fixes an old sofa at Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor scrubs a metal pan in an effort to remove rust
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A man making a foldable bed
March 2021: An elderly woman photographed at Ahmedabad’s Sunday Market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: Candid picture of a watch seller at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor looks at the camera out of curiosity
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A vendor selling used wooden doors, cellphones, cameras, and other things at Sunday market
January 2022, Ahmedabad: A perfume seller at the Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A man selling clothes at Ravivari bazaar
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A man goes through a collection of old books. Used books are among the most sold things at Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A man checking out an old watch at the Sunday market
October 2021, Ahmedabad: Rings of a street vendor selling bakery items at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: Women buying clothes. Clothes are among the most popular things at the Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: Pile of used clothes for sale at Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Women going through piles of clothes at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: Clothes for sale at Sunday market are being brought out of an auto rickshaw
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman and a man busy in a conversation
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A ‘sadhu’ at the Sunday market is interested in buying a radio that he says is for keeping him company
January 2022, Ahmedabad: Socks for sale at the Sunday market
April 2022, Ahmedabad: Boys look at a poster advertising ‘herbal gas’ that helps eliminate rats, spiders, termites, and snakes among other things
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A general scene at the animals section of the Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A young boy enjoys ‘chuski’ or shaved ice at the busy Sunday market
November 2021: A young girl with bangles poses for a picture in Ahmedabad
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman at Sunday Market poses for a picture
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A cage full of chicks for sale at the Sunday market
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A white pigeon is being brought out of a cage for an interested buyer. Pigeons are among the most traded birds at the Sunday market
April 2022, Ahmedabad: Small birds for sale at the Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A man selling pigeons at Gujari Bazaar
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Kids checking out pigeons for sale at Sunday Market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Young boys check a pigeon they are interested in buying. Pigeons are heavily traded among people at the Sunday market
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A man spreads wings of a pigeon to check if its worth buying
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A man checks the neck of a pigeon before buying
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Boys untie chickens
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman sits on the ground with a chicken in the busy Sunday market
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A man selling chickens at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A chicken bought at Sunday Market pokes out of a bag
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A man buying chickens at Sunday market where different breeds of chickens are available for sale at highly varying prices
October 2021, Ahmedabad: Chickens from teo different sellers start to fight as the sellers intervene
November 2021: Chickens for sale at Ahmedabad’s Sunday Market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Some chickens for sale at the Sunday Market fight as the seller watches
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A vendor helps stuff a chicken into a small bag
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A vendor brings out a chicken from a crowded bamboo cage
April 2022, Ahmedabad: Rabbits for sale at the Sunday market are crammed in a small box
October 2021, Ahmedabad: A man shows an egg
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A goat for sale at the Sunday market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A goat up for sale at Sunday market enjoys some grooming
April 2022, Ahmedabad: Men engage in a deal for goats
October 2021: A man with his goat intended for sale at Ahmedabad’s Sunday Market
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A woman engages in a price discussion with a chicken seller at Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A chicken up for sale at Sunday Market seems intrigued by the camera
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A one and a half month goat kid lies comfortably in a girl’s arms as she observes the argument over the final price of the group of goats
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A goat kid in hands of its new owner after being sold off along with a group of goats
April 2022, Ahmedabad: A goat and its owner share water from a plastic bag
November 2021, Ahmedabad: Goats up for sale at Sunday market eating fodder
April 2022, Ahmedabad: People wait for their food that is being sold by a man and his mother at the Sunday market
January 2022: An untrained tattoo maker prepares to make tattoo of a religious deity displayed on a phone
January 2022: An untrained tattoo maker
November 2021, Ahmedabad: A man selling roasted sweet potatoes at the Sunday market
March 2021, Ahmedabad: A man preparing ‘ragda puri’ – a popular street food in India
October 2021, Ahmedabad: Cream rolls and other bakery items on sale at a street cart