Shopping in Bahawalpur: All You Need To Know

Shopping in Bahawalpur: All You Need To Know

So Bahawalpur is actually in another league when it comes to shopping. Like legit levels of awesome, like why-did-my-parents-make-wrong-housing-decisions kind of fantastic.
Factor in the fact that this is coming from me – someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, would prefer to consume torayi (I hate that vegetable, bros) over going to a congested bazaar for non-essential retail purposes and could have happily come back from my trip without having shopped and would have been entirely at peace. When you consider ALL OF THAT and you still hear me say that the shopping is fantastic and absolutely a no-miss, then you plan a trip to Bahawalpur incredibly urgently. And shop.
Please to remember, shopping in the old bazaar is no ordinary mission. It’s congested, loud, narrow and with humans piled over more humans. There is no air conditioning (not required in the winters though and is easy breeze) and requires some strength of character and good walking shoes.
The first day I went, I made the grave mistake of going on a Friday when shops of my concern were closed and I wasted a couple of hours trying to find the magical stuff, not realizing that they were inaccessible to me at that time since the fazool (to me) shops were still open and creating confusions.
So this blog post is intended to help you navigate this mysterious place and make sure you find the best stuff and return supremely fulfilled.
I will mention:
1) Where are these bazaars and how to get there (there are two main ones with the good stuff)
2) What you can find in the bazaar
3) Exact recommended shops from some amazing readers who helped me out tons (ilahvyou)
4) Timings
5) Any random tips
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WHERE ARE THESE BAZAARS



AHMEDPURI BAZAAR
The bazaar of your dreams is Ahmedpuri Bazaar which is right next to the Jamia Masjid in the old city. Our hotel was about 5 mins from the Jamia Masjid (and all the palaces) so it was a breeze getting to and from things (all hotel details in my final BWP post).


HOW DO YOU FIND IT
Google Maps: It is listed as Ahmedpuri Bazaar.
Common name: Jamia masjid ke neechay wali shops
Directions: You can go to the Ahmedpuri Gate (which is one of the historial gates of the city of Bahawalpur) and drive or walk inside or take a rickshaw (driving will be super congested). Once through the gate, ask every fifth shop that you want to go to “the shops under jamia masjid”. These are shops in the boundaries of main Jamia Mosque. People will guide you but why I’m suggesting you ask so frequently for directions is because it’s very crowded and you just might miss it. And trust me in this place you don’t want to go back and forth.
While the entire bazaar is in open-air, narrow lanes, the shops of your interest are in tiny passages that actually have a roof on top. So while you’re walking in straight from the Ahmedpuri gate (keep going straight), casually asking people about the shops, suddenly you’ll come to a point where on your left you’ll see a lane going in (which has a roof, therefore covered). This is your destination.
Walk inside and you’ll see shops like you find in Gulf (Karachi) and Liberty (Lahore, the ones behind Khussa Mahal). You have arrived.
CHAANDI BAZAAR/Machli Bazaar/Sarafa Bazaar/Al Rehman Market



HOW DO YOU FIND IT
Google Maps: It is listed as Machli Bazaar (next to Chowk Bazaar, also on Google Maps).
Common name: Any of the above names
Directions: Once you’re done with Ahmedpuri Bazaar, come back to the main lane (from where you turned left to go into the jamia mosque shops) and start going straight. Ask people to guide you to
chaandi bazaar (or whatever name works from up there).

According to Samer (who helped me SO much), Sarafa Bazaar and Rehman Market are next to each other – Sarafa/Machli has the real silver and kundan jewelery and Rehman has artificial jewelery. Both are connected so just keep moving in the lane.

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STUFF YOU CAN FIND IN THESE BAZAARS
I didn’t have a lot of time after my city exploration adventures, so I didn’t manage to take pictures of half the stuff that was available there. But this quick overview will get you pretty much set on what kind of things you can find. Get ready to hear a lot of ‘I don’t know why I didn’t buy this’ (I have no justification for my mistakes). 



IN AHMEDPURI BAZAAR
Chunri. I wanted to buy the green one. I’m not sure why I didn’t. The dupatta was PKR 800 I think.
All kinds of gorgeous handbags. I got one, thanks gods. (For PKR 800) 
Ajrak. Sigh, if I hadn’t already bought one last month, I would have totally picked it up from here. I don’t know why I didn’t buy the green ajrak, I want it so much right now 🙁

Bedsheets. SO many prints.
Unstitched shirts with random work. He told me the names of each type of work, but my brain refused to process and remember.
Not sure why I didn’t buy this because I love it so much right now.
Phulkari dupattas. TONS of them. Average price around PKR 1200.
Gota. I love gota work SO bad, my own valima clothes and my clothes at my brothers wedding were all gota, yes please (that’s 2 shadi outfits out of the five I’ve made in the last 6 years so that’s a decent ratio).
Mukesh work and whatever this gold kaam is called. Ranging between PKR 3000 to PKR 6000.
Chanderi dupattas. He was constantly calling it that and also “reverse something”. I don’t know, they looked super pretty. I almost got the yellow one. I think this was PKR 800 or PKR 1200.

Shadow work in one billion colors.
These embellished galas. We used to have these in our house all the time in our childhood, I LOVE them. If you don’t want to do a desi execution, I’d suggest getting a square design and stitching it onto the back of a jacket. Or just use the sleeveska kaam on a buttoned down. Can someone do this for me? Thanks.
IN CHAANDI BAZAAR



Chaandi jewelery. The real silver, shiny stuff (no antique type). I got two tiny baalis for my second piercing because I can’t wear artificial 24/7 in that. By the way, this picture is not a great example but I somehow didn’t take another picture. The silver jewelery was very pretty and bigger like bracelets, karras, rings, etc.
Kundan jewelery. Lanes of kundan jewelery. Very stunning stuff.



On the way to Ahmedpuri Bazaar from Ahmedpuri Gate

Rilli work. Bedding in really gorgeous rilli work. 
Clay stuff. Like this. I got two tiny catch-alls type. 
Roti ka kapras. For your bread protection needs, but I also see them as nice things to frame and hang around the house.
Random bartan/kitchen stuff. I bought these mugs because a) I’m a chai lover b) they looked like dhaba cups and I’m a wannabe dhaba enthusiast
Shadi stuff. I have no weddings happening in my life right now but I feel very let down by myself that I did not get one of those ‘happy marriage’ signs on the wall. I can totally see it in my house somewhere, they are solid décor pieces, bros. Also, I have faith that one of these thaals could look awesome as wall décor – didn’t have one in my wedding, but want one in my home, lulz.
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Exact recommended shops from readers
I was short on time so I didn’t try and find all the shops recommended to me but I’m going to list them down for you. I think even if you can’t find them somehow, practically all the shops I saw were great so it’s going to be just fine. All of these are in those same lanes for which directions I’ve given above.



Some of the shop details are straight from their business cards that some of you sent me 🙂
Zia Silk Center/Zia Cloth House
For embroidery, mukesh, chunri.
Shop #191, Near Market Masjid Al Sadiq
I honestly couldn’t find the time to find this place but SO many people raved about this so if you have time, do find it. They’re not on Google Maps; if I had gone there, I would’ve totally pinned the exact location. But I asked a couple of people and they were pointing me to it, I just lost track of time and decided to skip it. Just ask someone and they’ll help you. Here’s there Facebook page if you want: here.
Aqsa Cloth House
For traditional ajrak, balochistani unstitched shirts
No exact directions but it was one of the first shops as soon as I entered the Jamia mosque shops area

Fashion Ghar
For mukesh work, saris.
On Google Maps, on the way from Ahmedpuri Bazaar to Chaandi Bazaar. Just keep asking people on the way, if you don’t have Google Maps.
M. Sharif Handicrafts & Cholistani Chunri House
Shop #70, 74 Al Sadiq Market, Jamia Masjid  
For chunri suits, dupattas, ajrak, saris, gota variety.



For silver and kundan jewelery



Shoukat Jewelers
Al Rehman Market, Sarafa Bazar
0333-6855517, 0300-6855517, 0313-6855517
Ahmed Jewelers
Al Rehman Market, Sarafa Bazar
0300-6830203, 0312-8140008
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BAZAAR TIMINGS
Opens around 12 pm until Maghrib, which would be around 5 to 6 pm. Closed on Fridays.
You’ll see some random stuff open in the bazaar on Fridays BUT I’m speaking from personal experience, all the relevant shops were closed and you’ll only end up wasting time so don’t go on a Friday.



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TIPS
1. Wear shalwar kameez. Skip western wear. Wear a dupatta to be respectful (not necessarily on your head).
2. Wear closed shoes and that you can walk around in. There will puddles of water and dirt and generally an environment that will be hard on your feet and shoes, if you plan on spending a few hours there.
3. Be prepared for major levels of congestion and noise. It didn’t really bother me somehow but if you don’t like or can manage tight spaces, you should know this. Although if you can make it through the madness, the shops where you actually have to shop are relatively quiet and more open.
4. If you want to look around and shop well, keep 5-6 hours in your schedule. If you don’t want to shop that much, like how I ideally would have, keep 2-3 hours in your plan. I actually spent about an hour there and could have easily spent one more. 
5. Have falooda at Data Sweets (outside Fareed gate, on Google Maps) or gol gappay once you’re done shopping, woohooo.
6. If you have time, take a rickshaw ride through the bazaar, just for the experience. If I had had time, I would have done it (hashtag immature behavior).
7. If you go with Find My Adventure and ask them for help, they’ll take you to all the shops.
Hope this helps. Happy shopping in now one of my favorite cities in the WORLD, Bahawalpur.
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Read about my two days in Bahawalpur right here (I had a BLAST): Day 1, Day 2.
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My Bahawalpur trip was in collaboration with Travelwings.com which is an online travel agency based out of UAE. They have flight options and great fares from UAE to anywhere in Pakistan and from Pakistan to the UAE. And other than Pakistan, they have incredible travel packages to really interesting places around the world which you can discover by following them on Facebook here and Instagram here.
I also partnered with FindMyAdventure which is an online marketplace for amazing tours across Pakistan. You’ve got to see their website and all that they have on offer right here. I loved, loved, LOVED the experience with them and cannot recommend them enough. Follow them on Facebook here and Instagram here, because they keep posting awesome trips and can also do custom trips for you/your friends/your neighbors/eraaybaady.
All opinions about any collaborations are entirely my own because I don’t like anyone else’s opinions in my head. Thank youuuu.  

7 Comments

  1. Ummm. This is actually epic.

  2. I read through the directions even though I'm not going right now. So detailed! You are a shining star, Masha'Allah.

  3. I am so going in 2017. drooling like a baby over so much COLOR <3

  4. Shayad mujhe Bahawalpur jaana kabhi naseeb naa ho par aapka post padhkar aur tasveerein dekhkar maza aa gaya =D It makes me realise that these type of markets (or should I say puraane bazaar?) in both India and Pakistan have SO much to offer.

  5. BRILLIANT!!!! Loved all the photos. I want some of them sooooo bad! *insert crying face*

  6. Ufff loved the shopping and the brilliant coverage . Loved every bit of it. So useful

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