The market is more than 125 years old and one of the country’s largest wholesale flower markets. In 2008 it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Originally the market set up right on the Mallick Ghat on the river’s edge, but now it has moved to the alley and small shops behind the Hooghly. It runs from 5am until late at night.
It is an intense experience joining the early morning wave of people flooding under the bridge. The beautiful scent of tuberose a surprising smell to find in a back alley in Kolkata.
There are more than 200 market stalls selling carnations, gladioli and bright orange marigolds threaded into garlands. Many workers live in makeshift shacks at the market and each morning bathe in the river.
Flowers are an essential part of Hindu ritual and worship, and are used as offerings to the gods. Their fragrance is believed to please the gods, and their beauty is a symbol of happiness and prosperity. Certain gods are offered specific flowers of certain colour and scent. And the flowers offered to the gods must always be fresh.
The wholesalers at the Mallick Ghat market export their flowers around India and around the world.