Delhi Flower Market on Kunzum.comIf you are up even before dawn in Delhi, you may want to go for a run along the city’s many green belts. Or you could pay a visit to India’s biggest wholesale flower market in Connaught Place, the main commercial and shopping district in the centre of the capital of the country.

First question: Why early morning? Because it is a temporary market that comes alive at 4 am and disappears by 9 am. Traders display their offerings during this time when retailers and decorators, and some customers who want flowers for their personal use, come to stock up for their own customers. Hundreds of traders set up shop every day of the year, all temporary, to do an annual business over $100 million (unofficial estimates). A permanent market to the east of Delhi is currently being planned. But the market may remain primarily a morning one as trade customers need to attend to their respective businesses during the day.

To view the pictures on Flickr, click here.

Flower Market in Delhi at dawnFocusing on the flowers themselves, the range is as impressive as the source itself. Flowers come here from all over India – and it is a big country – as well as from distant countries like Thailand, China and Holland amongst others. And these include roses, orchids, zebras, lilies, iris, marigolds, anthuriums, and even artificial ones. In all shades of reds, oranges, yellows, blues, whites to highlight just a few.

This is the market where you pick up bargains. For example, a high quality rose one would but for Rs. 15 ($ 0.4) in a retail shop can be purchased for Rs. 4 only. Or a zebra going for Rs. 100 for 10 can be had for a tenth of the price. But this was today – March 26, 2008 – when I was there. It is off-season, and bargains are there for the taking. During peak season, usually lasting September – February, and in short bursts at other times, prices can be higher with sellers less willing to discount their products.

Flower Market in Delhi at dawnBeing less busy also meant the traders had time to talk in a friendly manner; when business is good, be prepared to be snubbed if you are not a serious buyer. But all kinds of interesting people come to this market. A lady – with family name Rathore – is the third generation of her family in this business inheriting it from her father and grandfather. A rare social phenomena even now in India when the baton passes on to the daughter, her two sons are also involved in this work. Besides the wholesale stall where they sell dahlias and marigolds, they also have a shop in the old Delhi area of Chandni Chowk. She was offering a bunch of 10 dahlias for Rs. 20 when they could go for thrice as much when demand is better.

But she could not stop complaining about days like today are ones when they may not even earn enough to pay for transport to and from the market. But to her credit, she admitted the nature of this business is such where you earn for six months in a year, and live off it for the remaining six.

Another lady from West Bengal, selling artificial flowers, was excited to get her photos taken; she readily started posing when she extracted a promise from me to send her a print. Upon asking, she said her name is Gandhan, but added everyone knows her as the phoolwali aunty (the aunt who sells flowers). Around for eight years, her whole family is engaged in making these flowers and also participating in Government sponsored events around the country. She even fished out a visiting card for me with her business listed as ‘Radha Krishnan Handicrafts,’ manufacturers of all of kinds of dry flowers, dry baskets, pot pourri and cane baskets. They also do wedding decorations.

Flower Market in Delhi at dawn - a slow day means time to get ears cleanedAs you walk around, it is easy to chat up with very interesting people. Or you can just sit around and overhear conversations, calls to customers and other things sellers and buyers do. One trader, selling carnations, jokingly asked me not to take pictures because business is not good. Another, Ashok Kumar, could not help boasting of his own farms in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh where they grew lilies which were the best going around because they ensured the bulbs are imported from Holland. They also grew carnations, again the best as they changed the stems every 5-6 months. Kishen Haldar, selling tea from a portable contraption, seemed to be only one doing brisk business along with a few others like him; apparently an idle trader seeks solace from a cup of tea or coffee on a cool March morning. Ajay Barua, who I was told is the Vice President of the market’s association, even had the time to get his ears cleaned by a professional cleaner. Pointing out to the market, he highlighted the fact that most people present were the traders themselves.

Manoj Bhagra, who seemed to be in the quality end of the business, was whom I chatted longest with. Sharing the unofficial figures of the turnover of the market, he explained a lot about the dynamics of what I was seeing around me. India did have its own growth of orchids from down south, but growers of these exotic flowers went out of business when their production and transportation cost became higher than of the ones imported from Thailand; interestingly, as Bhagra pointed out, the imported orchids are the rejects of Thailand but do well here. Talk about globalization and competitive advantage of nations.

He also spoke of how the cut flowers business, growing at 20 percent annually, can do much better when people start buying to decorate their own homes and not just for gifting and decorations. He also expressed disappointment at the way we all treat flowers; as an example, if we just remove the wrappings, cut the flowers and put them in clean water in a vase, they would stay fresh for 4-7 days and not just 1-2. Bhagra is a founding member of the market in 1995. He added he does not know what he is doing in the market or why he is here, but he just enjoys the business to stick around.

There is a lot more one can talk about, but go and discover it for yourself.

A final take on the market: get up early one of these days, and make a trip to the market. Look at the flowers, absorb their beauty and take some home. It may just be the best good morning you may wished yourself in a long long time.

Quick Facts: The market is located across the road from the ancient Hanuman Temple on Baba Kharak Singh Road, Connaught Place in the central business and shopping district of New Delhi, India. Timings are 4-9 am daily. Anyone who has lived in Delhi can tell you where this place is, even if they do not know of the existence of this market.

29 Comments

  1. where are my share of flowers???

  2. Interesting post , I never knew of such a market .

  3. Been there and seen that! Lovely collection of flowers at Rock bottom whole sale price! In Delhi – flowers are expensive – apart from this wholesale market!

    Every time we have a huge gathering or need lots of flowers for birthdays etc – We go there!

    Only downside is that you have to get up early in the Morning and straight away head off to the market!

    :-(

    P.S- Thanks for bringing this up Ajay!

  4. an interesting topic to discuss on. I always knew that such a market existed in Delhi but have never visited. Will make a trip very soon.

  5. Prerna Bhagra says:

    Hey, i m glad to find this post.. for two reasons i have been planning to explore it myself someday. Came to know about it straight from the horse’s mouth my next door floristwala. this was when i was doing a research for a play for a barry John’s workshop in year 2006. The way the florist described it, have always wondered wat a pleasure it would be to be able to seduce two of my senses together sight and smell… :-) and that too in our very own Dilli….

    and secondly becoz for the first time i have found someone in this world who share my sirname ‘BHAGRA’…. ;-)

    Thanks and nice blog Ajay.

  6. Thanks for your comment Prerna. If you go in a few weeks from now when the festive season starts, you may get a very different environment thank what I found. Do share your experiences when you go.

    Cheers…

    Ajay

  7. Hey man thanks for d info on flower market. Surely ll pay a visit there. But apart from these places like this market and Qutub Minar………Any more places to go visit………where u know we could just explore peace and beauti of it……

    Thanks anyway.
    See u later.

  8. Hi Hemant,

    Delhi is one of those wonders we take for granted and it has more to see and do than any other place in India. Just go to old Delhi for starters. Or the Tughlaqabad fort where no one goes but it is such a quiet and peaceful place. You start exploring and you will never finish.

    Cheers… Ajay

  9. srinivasa.T says:

    Dear sir,
    I am srinivasa from Bangalore I am a wholesale distributers of all fresh cut flowers. Tell me the marketing of delhi and i will send flowers to delhi, my mobile no is 09900867475.

    Thanking you

  10. It’s a pleasure going there and seeing the variety unseen with the local florists in New Delhi.
    They have the most exotic birds of paradise and lotus’ as well.. Diwali time, the market is populated with the early risers.

  11. Thank you all for this information…
    Can somebody tell me if the market opens on 31st December and 1st January?

  12. I am sure it is open Vivek, those are the big days for them to sell.

  13. good report .kindly tell who can be contacted for price of various flowers in different seasons

  14. Palash Adhikary says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I’m Palash Adhikary. I make a small business and now 4 (Four) person work in my Flower and plant nursery, Name: “MANGROVE NURSARY”. Now I decoration all type of flower and gardening (roof and ground garden), any type of ceremonial occasion florist flower decoration. So my requested to you that please give me a chance to serve for your company/ ceremonial occasion. In Kolkata, if possible to arrange form you or anywhere your relatives then please try for me. Please send this massage to everyone on your contact list.
    I hope you will kindly consider my application favorably.
    Thanks
    With kindest regards,
    Palash Adhikary.
    28/N, Block-A.
    Tegharia(Dhali Para),NandanKanan.
    P.O. Hatiara. Kolkata-700059 Email: shankarshil_resume@yahoo.co.in
    PH. 9475754858 / 9433173343.

  15. No idea Brijesh. I guess one will have to go to the market to know the prices.

  16. suman arya says:

    nice article, but the realty of the market is somewhat different. farmers from various states have to face lots of problems here. As most of the traders( better call them brokers) after some time stop sending the payment and the money mounts in lakhs. i’m also a victim of this malpractice. it ruins the farmer who take huge loans frm banks. some time more thn 25 lakhs. in order to improve the system we need to crush this middleman.

    my email ID

    sumanarya@aol.com

  17. That’s a big problem in India Suman – dishonesty whenever someone can get away with it. I have been a victim too in different ways. Pity and sad!

  18. Hi Vivek, I would assume it is open on these days – after all, these are big days for flower sales.

  19. I am so happy I found this article on the flower market, thank you all. Just few days back my wife told me about this market. I wanted to try it out and today that moment came, as I have to go for ‘darshans’ of my Spiritual Master tomorrow, early in the morning, and I intend to go to flower market first, buy some good varieties of flowers and then head to have darshans of my Master and present those flowers. Will share my experience after I visit the market tommorrow.

  20. As promised I am writing my experience of first ever visit to the flower market. I reached there at 4.45AM, while still dark and many vendors still unpacking there merchandise. Bargaining was at its full show even at this hour. I bought white lilies, pack of 10 for Rs 100/- though starting price was 250/- . I did’nt have much time to spend, stayed there only for abt 10-15 mins. But atleast I had first taste of it and am eager to go next time and stay there longer to scour market more for its variety.

  21. Thanks for sharing your experience Neeraj. And good to know the market has not changed since I last visited.

  22. SUNIL KUMAR GULATI says:

    IF ANYONE MADE BAMBOO ITEMS AND DRY FLOWERS PLEASE CONTACT ME AT MY MAIL FOR A REGULAR ORDER IN BULK.

  23. CHANDRESH says:

    PLEASE GIVE ME INFORMATION FLOWER MARKET

  24. This has to be updated.Alas!The whole phool mandi has vanished.As a bystander told me that somebody did a case that they were blocking walkways adn court order came with the bans.(This is really tragic as none of the emporiums there open before 10a.m.And,as all of us know by 9am the madi winds up.)So they all went to Ghazipur.
    Please do find and tell us,where did they all go.As,I went al the way to Ghazipur,and walked a really dirty lane leading to the site,beside the veggie and fruit mart.Got some flowers,hardly any variety(and this was not only with the orchids, because of the floods in Bangkok!) and mainly they were not the ones opposite Hanuman Mandir.There, there were many E.Bengali helpers – as any regular would recognise….

  25. Indira Kahandaliyanage says:

    I have been to this place and have never seen anything like this in my life. Such an amazing place which appears with the mist and disappears with it in the morning.

  26. Thank for such a detailed article Ajay. But as mentioned by one of the posting member “Reyhan” can you please enlighten us with some updates on its existence? Is it still at Connaught Place or shifted to Gazipur?

    Cheers

  27. As per TOI: With the three main wholesale flower markets of Fatehpuri, Mehrauli, and Connaught Place, now shifted to a single unit in Ghazipur, near the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, florists in the city have to bear an increased transportation cost, which is transferred to the buyers in the form of higher prices. The cost of transporting the flowers to Ghazipur has also gone up.

    Source: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-05/delhi/30115506_1_red-roses-flowers-price-rise

    also this youtube video and its description will be helpful.

    Thanks

  28. hi, I need lots of flowers for a program in my house, these comments are from a few years ago. can anybody confirm the scenario today? is it Ghazipur or connaught place?

    thank you.

  29. Hi Surabhi. It’s Gazipur now – CP has been shut. You can get some flowers in Mehrauli though – there is a flower market there too between MG Road and Qutab Minar.

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