Dadar Phool one of Mumbai’s oldest flower markets.
Dadar Phool (Hindu for flower) Market, Mumbai.
The vibrant colours of mountains of flowers is a sight to behold as you walk through Dadra Phool one of Mumbai’s oldest wholesale flower markets. A frenzy of activity as porters run through narrow aisles and a maze of passageways, burdensome loads of flower sacks resting on their shoulders amidst over 700 stalls. Money changing hands and ledgers being written beneath burning lamplight. The air vibrating with shouting voices negotiating deals from 4 am when buyers come to select the best flowers to decorate Mumbai’s top hotels alongside event managers and wedding decorators.
Throughout the morning the chaotic activity continues as laden trucks arrive from across the state and stock is loaded on barrows, bikes and anything with wheels then transported to shops, roadside sellers and also to fill the unceasing demand for floral garlands for worship which are used to adorn temples throughout the city, which are many, flowers are an important part of Indian culture.
An area of the market is under cover the sweet scent of flowers heady in the air mixing with the not so sweet scent of the fish market alongside. The road is edged with groups of men and women sitting on the tarmac eking out a living selling to whoever may pass by, only feet away from their make shift dwellings a pavement sanctuary and family home.
Further along the road the outside market flourishes beneath the train tracks where men sit threading pom poms of orange marigolds on never ending chains. Basket upon basket of floral abundance, yellow and burnt orange chrysanthemum, delicate creamy white rajnigandha flowers, exotic varieties of lotus and orchids and bunches of peach, pink and red roses tightly wrapped in the pages of yesterday’s news.
Dark fingers plunge deep into mounds of flower heads as if scooping up jewels to fill a pirate’s sack. The swish of fabric from colourful Sari clad ladies brush across the teetering piles of tumbling blossoms that cover every available space.
Making your way through the people and flower baskets is a sensory journey well worth setting your alarm for and mingling with the vendors that arrive before sunrise from outside the city with their stock of fresh flowers for the days sales. And as dawn breaks the flow of customers arrive many are regulars buying fresh marigolds a daily ritual for morning prayer, others to buy flowers for a special occasion or celebration and many more curious visitors and photographers that have heard about Phool gully which translated from Hindu simple means Flower street, a magical place.
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