Enough of the flowers and vegetables already! Let’s explore something new. Just down the road from the famous flower market is ‘Little India’ on Phahurat road that was built in 1898, tucked away behind the Sikh temple and the heart of the textile and garment shops in walking distance from Memorial Bridge at the Chao Phraya River. The road is names after one of King Chulalongkorn’s daughters: Princess Bahurada Manimaya (the pronunciation of Bahurada is very similar to Phahurat, so it was eventually changed).
Entering through the Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple that is quite large and vast – the second largest such temple outside of India. Although it is quiet, there are lots of activities going on with people coming and going, shoes strewn about, children running, and men huddling together in small groups murmuring to each other.
Through a small passage way the curious wanderer arrives in Phahurat market. It is a traditional Thai market with distinct Indian flavors. First of all – it’s mostly textiles. And lots of them.
From the subdued colors to screaming patterns, from soft creamy silk to coarse checkered table cloth to wedding dresses and material for celebrations and their accessories. Be prepared for a visual overload of thousands upon thousands of bales of textiles and fabrics stacked high in every corner imaginable.
Under the somber light, the cats lurking in the dark, rats scurrying about, children playing on the floor and vendors sitting on top of their ware. They call out to the visitors to have a closer look and lure them into their shops. Competition is high, but prices are reasonable and the quality of the cotton and silk is the best in town.
It is difficult to believe that all of these textiles will be sold, dresses will be made, accessories – including hairpieces – will be sold, and yet the vendors are in business, the air is full of busyness and expectation for the next sale. The occasional electronics gadget, DVDs, Bollywood dramas, handbags, souvenirs and others are sold, too.
A leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll in ‘Little India’ is worth the heat and the sweat. It is a true image of the lively, vibrant Indian community in the city.