Gold News

Heart of India's Gold Market

Zaveri Bazaar is home to 65% of India's gold-market dealing...

GOLD IS THE one commodity that more and more Indian investors are putting not only their faith in but also their money, writes Anil Patil for Commodity Online in Mumbai.

Every city in India can boast of a street named after gold – just as every city has road named after Mahatma Gandhi. Yes, the names may change depending on the local language, but the flavor and color of these gold-dealing streets never change.

They are the most coveted and often most congested addresses, too. But enthusiasm over the huge volume of trade that takes place in these areas never diminishes.

Here in Mumbai, for example, no gold fan can miss Zaveri Bazaar – Mumbai's most popular address and the headquarters of all the wealth in the city. It's a place that many female Indian tourists to the city would like to visit. But reaching there, they would surely be disappointed.

Zaveri Bazaar – or the Gold Market in Mumbai – does not represent any of the traits of the 21st century shining in India. Narrow dingy lanes, dust, open sewages and unprecedented police security at the historic Mumba Devi temple (from which the word Mumbai has been derived) create something of an eyesore. And with the recent terror attacks, security has only got tighter.

Policemen are keeping a check on all vehicles that near Mumba Devi temple, as well as anyone who walks "suspiciously", because two terrorist attacks have taken place at Zaveri Bazaar – first in 1993 and then with the 2005 bomb blast in which scores of people died.

In spite of all these problems, however, the dominance of this bazaar in India's national gold market is unmatched.

Zaveri Bazaar first shot into prominence in 1860 after the British decided to set up a local Gold Bullion market. Gold traders from across the subcontinent moved in too, because of the fact that they felt safe here compared to rest of the country where there was a mutiny against British rule after 1857. Law and order was maintained in Mumbai, because the British had a firm grip over this island city compared to other parts of the country where the different Nawabs and Maharajas revolted against London's imperialism.

Today there are no shopping malls or even a decent air-conditioned restaurant for outsiders, but no one complains – because this has been the way of life here for generations. Hundreds of people are working non-stop, laborers plying goods from one place to another and artisans and designers giving the final touch to their gold products.

There is no parking space, and you are sure to get stuck in a traffic jam even if you come at non-peak hours. Zaveri Bazaar is bustling with activity 24 hours.

For women wanting to Buy Gold jewelry, this place is like a dream walk in heaven as there are so many varieties. Zaveri Bazaar tops the shopping list of any household preparing for a wedding.

"Historically, this place has dominated the gold market in India," says Suresh Hundia, president of the Bombay Bullion Association. Sitting in his office in Zaveri Bazaar, Hundia says there could be no alternative to this market in India, because 65% of gold trading and dealing is controlled from here.

He has an office in Shahi gully, just off the Zaveri Bazaar, but before you enter his office you will find such a narrow lane leading to his address that two people cannot enter together. Asked why he operates from this place, Hundia says "There is no alternative! It is the best place to deal in gold, and the business community has been doing this business here for generations."

Hundia himself was born in a family of jewelers, and like him there are scores of others still maintaining their family connections with the gold business from Zaveri Bazaar. Officially there is no figure as to the value of daily trading taking place in Zaveri Bazaar, from where nearly 1,500 or more jewelers now operate.

The place was first known for its temple. Goddess Mumba is worshipped by salt workers and fisher-folk here in Mumbai. She is depicted as a black stone sculpture in the temple and is also known as 'Maha Amba'.

One of the longest-standing traders near Zaveri Bazaar is Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri, who set up their shop in 1864. Today, their shop – Tribhovandas Jewelry – is a landmark destination at Charni Road railway station, just ten minutes away from Zaveri Bazaar. Before other organized players like Tanishq and D'damas arrived, Tribhovandas was the undisputed leader in new designs.

Says Amit Zaveri, head of the jewelers – "There is no other place like Zaveri Bazaar as far as shopping for jewelries are concerned. People keep many samples at their shops in different parts of the city, but the final and finished products always come from Zaveri Bazaar."

From Diwali 2009, however, the chaotic scenes in this bazaar may change a little, with the local authorities deciding not to allow any vehicles onto Zaveri Bazaar roads. The 2-km Sheikh Memon Road, where the bazaar is situated, will become a pedestrian-only street as part of a plan to beautify and transform Zaveri Bazaar into a tourist attraction.

CCTVs are also being installed, the number of private security guards are being increased, and other paraphernalia will be added to the street to ensure 24-hour vigilance around the diamond and jewelry hub that has until now looked a soft target for terrorist groups.

Decorative street lamps will be installed on the road leading to Zaveri Bazaar as part of a plan to beautify the locality. "We wish to keep the area clean and improve the aesthetics to attract tourists," says a member of the Bullion Association, which had approached the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with a proposal for the pedestrian plaza.

The BMC is more than happy with the proposal. And why not? The entire expenditure will be borne by the Association. Among other things, the road will be decorated with 300-odd decorative street lamps like those used in olden times.

The only vehicles allowed onto these streets will be emergency and utility services, including fire brigade, electricity and telephone companies. Loading and unloading of material will be permitted only between 9pm and 9am. Sheikh Memon Road will be converted into a no-parking zone. Security guards will be deployed at the entrance and exit of the road, ensuring a thriving gold dealing market continues – and perhaps even bringing it a little closer to the 21st century.

Commodity Online is a leading online, print and content provider of news, information and research reports on the commodities sector. With offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Cochin, Bangalore and Dubai, it also powers content in the SME sector, as well as the insurance and banking industries.

Commodity Online articles

Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.

Follow Us

Facebook Youtube Twitter LinkedIn



Market Fundamentals