As Sunday comes, Galiff Street is bustling with the cacophonic sounds of birds, dogs and a lot of people. Welcome to the largest and the oldest pet market of Kolkata – the Galiff Street Pet Market, also known as the ”Bagbazar Sokher Haat”.
The city of joy holds the pet market every Sunday from early in the morning to the late afternoon and Galiff Street literally becomes the “alley of joy”. Pets of various kinds like dogs, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs, fishes and even various types of plants are sold here. The pet business owners from Kolkata as well as from the neighbouring states all gather here. You can even see some hobbyists here, some photographers with their DSLRs looking for the perfect click. The Sunday morning thus becomes a carnival for selling and buying the stocks.
Earlier the market was situated at Hatibagan area. Once you are at Galiff Street, you will hear a record being played at the microphone about the genesis of the Baghbazar Sokher Haat. It is said that the last independent Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula had designated a certain area for elephant stable in the eighteenth century. Later this place came to be known as Hatibagan (Hati in Bengali means elephant while Bagan means garden). Later other animals too made their way in the area. Gradually, a market or haat was formed where animals were bought and sold. I believe it might have been a one of a kind market for animal trade.
As days went by, the market became bigger. Due to space constraint, the market was shifted from Hatibagan to Galiff Street. Today, it is a huge market for birds, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, fishes and plants. The same voice which speaks of the history of Galiff Street Pet market says that today the market, directly and indirectly, supports almost 2.5 lakh people!
What to see at Galiff Street Pet Market?
This market is a Sunday Market. On a weekday, the street is open for traffic. Come Sunday, traffic is stopped in this road and it gears up for the market. The market occupies the entire length of the street and is divided into different sections.
Galiff Street Pet Market Timings
Opened from almost 4:30 AM till 2 PM in the afternoon, the entire place is always in a buzz.
The first to arrive early in the morning are pet business owners along with the hobbyists. Later customers pour in from about 7 and 8 AM. This is a market where hobbyists can directly sell their stock. And finally, the market is also flocked by people like us who just want to savour the moments through their eyes or camera. The diversity of the pets in this market is simply overwhelming.
Galiff Street Dog Market
Happiness is a warm puppy.
As you enter Galiff Street from the northern part, the right side of the road is dedicated to the dogs and the left side to the birds. As we strolled down the market, we were almost awed to see the variety of dogs and pups being showcased there. From a Spitz pup, a golden retriever, the spotted Dalmatian and the cute Lhasa, there was also the quintessential pug on display. Here dogs of almost all the breeds and price range are available. Dog lovers are surely in for a lovely treat here. There are a lot who goes back home after being the proud owner of a cute puppy.
Galiff Street Bird Market
If you’re a bird, I’m a bird – Notebook
As we came to the birds’ section, we simply saw all the hues of a rainbow. Birds of various types and colours were created a mesmerizing scene. There were various types of sparrows, parrots and pigeons. But the bird market is not regulated. Birds that are prohibited from sale under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 are also found here changing hands. This section is simply a paradise for bird lovers. The costs of the birds are also not very high, Java Sparrows are sold for INR 250 each, and lovebirds are sold for INR 500 a pair. We were also surprised to see the people selling chicks for INR 50 each! Though we cannot guarantee the health of the birds! There are pigeons of various variety and various price.
We do not endorse keeping a bird in a cage. Neither do we like keeping a bird as a pet. But there are many who earn a living from here. Also, a number of birds changing hands here are illegal. But this market has been there for a long time and there has been no crackdown by the authority.
Galiff Street Fish Market
Even a fish would not get into trouble if it keeps its mouth shut!
This section is as colourful as the bird’s section. Different breeds of fishes are sold here. But this section is quite organized with the Kolkata Aquarium Club looking after it. This forum regularly gives updates about the prices and other information to the hobbyist. Not only fishes, this section sells aquarium and all the accessories related to it.
The price is quite cheaper than the market price! They are selling a pair of goldfish for INR 50. The aquariums that we usually get in the market at INR 6000 were sold here at INR 3000. Almost half the price!
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs and Rats
These are the cutest things we saw in the market. Little white rabbits in their cages were nibbling at leaves. There were guinea pigs and white rats for sale too. I was almost tempted to buy one of those cute white things
Galiff Street Plant Market
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
The plant lover can find his love here. Various seasonal and flowering plants are on display. And so are plants and other bonsai varieties. I just thought that if my mother ever visited this place, she would have gone entirely crazy seeing such varieties of flowering and ornamental plants. Not only plants, but you will also get the tubs, soil and manures too. This is a wholesale market for all the needs of your garden.
There is also a section for pet accessories where you can find aquariums, bird’s cages and other things. Fish food is also sold here.
Pet Market from the ethical point of view
This can be a topic of ongoing debate. Let me first talk about a few negative aspect of the market. There are quite a number of problems with the place. The dogs sold here might not be kept in the best of conditions. Also, most of the exotic birds sold here are illegal.
But the market has been here for so long and it is now synonymous with the heritage of Calcutta. The livelihood of a lot of people is dependent on this market. Many people get very good pets from here. Many of my friends have bought puppies from the Galiff Street Dog Market and are quite happy. The Fish Market and Plant Market are undoubtedly one of the best.
Personally, we would not buy a bird for keeping as a pet from here or even a dog. But I might buy an aquarium and fishes and even plants for my garden. How you take the market is entirely your point of view.
In spite of all its limitations, the Galiff Street Pet market is continuing a history. Being the oldest pet market of Kolkata, this place is a one-stop solution for the pet lovers and very rightly called the “pet lover’s paradise”. If you are in Kolkata, take some time on a Sunday and visit this “Shoker Bazar” (hobby market) or Galiff Street Pet Market.
How to Reach Galiff Street Pet Market
The pet market is located at Galiff Street in Baghbazar Area. The place is quite near to Shyambazar. From Shyambazar 5 point crossing if you go towards BT road, the market will be on your left side just before the first bridge.
You can take an Uber or a taxi from anywhere in Kolkata to reach the pet market.
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