Vada – North.
Vada Chennai is the North of Chennai.
North Chennai originated with the founding of an East India Company factory in the village of Madraspatnam, on 22nd August 1639, and Madras City came into being. This is why 22nd August is also celebrated as Madras Day.
All areas situated North of the Coovum River come under the umbrella of the Northern Area of Chennai.
Vada Chennai cannot be encompassed in a single post, it is that vast, both geographically and otherwise. Fort St George and Georgetown, from which the city originated, are the known parts of Vada Chennai, as is Parry’s.
Though Vada Chennai has found recent popularity because of a film by the same name, it is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the city.
I discovered Sowcarpet, in North Chennai, and to put it mildly, I went ballistic. Sowcarpet, the name is known to have originated from ‘Sahukar’ the money lenders this area is known for. Set up by migrants from Bihar, UP, Rajasthan, this area is a maze of narrow streets, heritage buildings and a treasure trove when it comes to shopping and food. I call Sowcarpet Ali Baba’s Cave, as once you go in you don’t know the way out! And I am more than happy to be lost here!
Some of the lanes are so narrow that no vehicles can pass through, while other lanes will have you dodging overhead wires, cars, two wheelers, cycle rickshaws AND resident buffaloes!
The vibrance and the energy of this place is so positive!
You have an entire street dedicated to a single product. So, there is a street for Steel and everything to do with it. Another for Electronics. One street just for clothes and yet another for jewellery. I can’t even imagine the amount of business this wholesale market must be doing in a single day!
A special mention to every shop owner and keeper I encountered, who were exceptionally polite and helpful, despite the crazy crowds and the crazy demands of people thronging their premises.
Now to my most favourite street in all of Sowcarpet , Mint Street or what I call Shop-and-Eat Street.
If you enjoy food, a visit to this street is a must. From known foods and beverages, like Pav Bhaji, Kesar-Badam Milk, Kulfi and Chaats, to innovations like Puff Pizza and ‘Jantar Mantar’ this street has it all. Fresh Sugarcane Juice is available every few meters. Raj Snacks is THE place to go to, for the most unusual and super delicious snacks. Novelty Tea House for the Pav Bhaji and Kesar Badam Milk.
Work off all the calories you consume as you walk the length and breadth of this street, shopping (don’t forget to bargain) up a storm.
If you’re too tired to walk, hire a cycle rickshaw to take you around.
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