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Buying antique and second hand furniture at Oshiwara Furniture Market in Mumbai (photo-feature)

June 9, 2008

The half a century old Oshiwara furniture market isn’t doing as brisk a business as it used to in the old days but it is still the best place to buy authentic wooden furniture, a lot of it with an interesting story behind it. This is a place where ancient wooden furniture from old houses all over the country makes its way to…and well, there are buyers still although nowadays you can see from the resigned looks on the faces of the shop owners that they don’t expect much business.

Quoting from this old article, written way back in 1999:

Unfortunately, Oshiwara Market, situated on Swami Vivekanand Road, will soon lose its identity if awareness is not generated…the culprit is the monster called urbanisation. With delicate Italian furniture, befitting French windows of contemporary houses, fast replacing the old charm, the market is heading towards a natural downfall. And with shopkeepers also being taken in by modern plywood furniture to cater to the new age customers, there’s no stopping it.

However, this isn’t really genuine antique, in the sense that the furniture is not a hundred (or more) years old, but yes, it’s old and it’s made of solid wood, rose or teak. The furniture that you will find is around 40-50 years old and if you get lucky you could pick up some beautiful pieces at a reasonable price…after bargaining. The prices can range anywhere from Rs 5000/- for an old full-size cupboard to Rs 15000/- depending on the condition of the item. At times a damaged piece could have been patched up with a piece of plywood here and there and in this case you could get it cheaper. You need to examine each piece carefully to ensure that you get a good bargain.

The supply to this market continues unabated as old houses in different parts of the country are giving way to smaller apartments and people just don’t want their old heavy furniture anymore. The traders told me that a lot of their recent stuff is coming from the southern part of the country…about 10-15 years ago the bulk of it came from Mumbai.

Here are some of the pictures from my wanderings through the market. I combined 2 photographs into one for ease of viewing. The first set is of the street where the row of shops follow one another. It was raining that day (the previous saturday) but that didn’t dampen our spirits!

Furniture street

furniture street2

furniture street 3

This second set are photographs of the inside of the shops and you can see that it’s not just furniture but also artefacts, lamps etc which are available here:

inside shop

furniture shop inside3

furniture shop2

inside furniture shop4

furniture shop

These are some single photographs. This first one is some furniture dumped on the road…and the shopkeepers aren’t worried that it’s getting wet. It’s all wood, they explain and the furniture will not spoil unlike plywood furniture.

furniture road

The shops are all small and crammed with furniture, lamps, wall-hangings, pot holders. Even the roof is used to display items.

antiques roof

furniture street5

This last picture is just a collage of some items:

furniture collage

The address: Ramjanak Singh Compound, Oshiwara Bridge, S.V Road, Jogeshwari (W), Mumbai 400102

(All photographs are by me and copyrighted)

Related Reading: A flea market in Pune city – photo feature
Old houses (wadas) are giving way to new apartment buildings – photo-feature

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37 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2008 10:59 pm

    lol,my mom will love to look at this 🙂 …hmm…we have got antique for as low as Rs 200!

  2. June 10, 2008 2:37 am

    I have very little interest in antiques but these are cool pictures, Nita. If it were not for the bright daylight, the market would have reminded me of Knockturn Alley! 🙂 I am sure one of those cupboards has its pair somewhere else . . . 😀

  3. oemar permalink
    June 10, 2008 3:59 am

    Nice pics.. fixing these furnitures could be a great hobby I think…

  4. June 10, 2008 9:16 am

    Thanks Vishesh. I guess some antiques you can get for as low as that…it depends..

    Raj, actually I too am not a great lover of furniture but I am attracted to old things and I have a great love for history. This was my first time in any street furniture market and frankly I was quite intriqued. I would have liked to stay and talk to the shop-keepers asking them about the history of the various pieces but there was no time!

    Oemar, thanks. Hobby and it can make one a lot of money too!

    • amit permalink
      September 13, 2012 2:24 am

      hey nita u know any anthr such markts in mumbai.

  5. June 10, 2008 9:35 am

    Very detailed posting about mumbai furniture market…how about chennai’s mani shop? Heard about it? Or is there any other antiques/furniture market in chennai?

  6. June 10, 2008 12:23 pm

    In ahmedabad we have a “sunday market” or “flea market” where u get the new as well as the old items. you just gave me the iitiative to go and roam around once again. I used to frequent it more often when financial resources were meager. But its still fun and sometimes you can actually hit a jackpot.

    nice post!

  7. June 10, 2008 1:02 pm

    the old furnitures at ma home in kerala are more sturdy and strong (around 70years old) than the furniture i bought for ma house.
    So when they say that it wont get spoilt in the rain, guess they are right.
    the furnitures that are not available in the market are made of rubber wood. its cheap but wont last long.
    Saying all this however we cant bring down a tree… especially rosewood. and teak. we need permission from the local panchayats.

  8. June 10, 2008 1:16 pm

    Hey nice pictures yaar! My only concern: Are these furnitures well maintained? Because some of them seem to be in a really dilapidated condition!

    Your statement “it is still the best place to buy authentic wooden furniture, a lot of it with an interesting story behind it.” reminded me of a FRIENDS episode, where Rachel is trying to pass off an apothecary table to Phoebe saying its antique and has history!! 😀


  9. June 10, 2008 2:18 pm

    i love antique furniture, many times we found furniture abandoned in the street and we re-painted, renovated,…hahahaha, its cool and fun!
    I love this kind of markets and look to for BARGAINS! ahhahahahaha!!!
    we call this kind of places: RASTRO.


  10. Raghav permalink
    June 10, 2008 4:39 pm

    It is always refreshing to read an article which doesn’t have posts arguing for centuries. Thanks for the nice topic. It just confirmed my newly found love for wood and these beautiful furniture pieces will only take it a step further.

  11. Joss permalink
    June 10, 2008 6:08 pm

    These pieces would like nice against a strong bright colour on the wall, like aquamarine. Is that the way Indan homes used to be decorated. That is exactly my taste and I if I lived alone that is how I would choose to furnish my home. But, I’m not and we have various bits of rubberwood and light oak here.

    Very enjoyable photo feature, Nita. Thanks for sharing, and for going out in the first place. It was worth waiting for it to load!

  12. June 10, 2008 6:56 pm

    Srinivasan, Raghav, thanks.
    Sakhi, we women love to rummage around looking for bargains don’t we! It’s really great fun, and even more when there are exotic things to buy.
    Xylene, nowadays buying brand new rose or teak furniture is only for the superrich…people like us survive on buying used stuff…is your mom selling by the way? 😛
    Nova, the furniture is old and very sturdy. Old heavy furniture has a way of surviving the test of time. Some of it is damaged ofcourse and these people have a way of sprucing it up, restoring it, so that that it looks beautiful. And I know that Friends episode! When I was going around the market, I thought of that and understood exactly what Phoebe felt!
    Hi francina, I would love to see a Rastro one day! 🙂
    Joss, in our ancestral home we used to have this heavy old furniture. The old houses were sprawling, with courtyards and often high ceilings. Enough space for large heavy furniture. However the walls of the different houses I have seen in various places (old) are painted in muted colours. The brightness came from the paintings, crystal chandeliors, rugs and arefacts. Huge mirrors framed in decorated rose wood were also often used. Stuffed chairs often came in bright colours. However not much furniture was stuffed furniture.

  13. June 11, 2008 1:00 am

    reminded me of chor bazar !
    nice pics , where exactly is it ? i saw a mkt while enroute to meet a friend somewhere on link road between andheri and goreagaon

    yeah, that’s the place. the mkt has been around for years and is a pretty well known furniture mkt of mumbai. a place to buy antiques. – nita.

  14. June 11, 2008 3:35 am

    Nita, your photo-features are exellent, I always enjoy the way you make an ordinary life happening to a special report. that only a journalist can do.

    Thanks. 🙂 – Nita.

  15. June 11, 2008 7:11 am

    Hi Nita,
    Carpentry is one my favorite topics. Dad and I built all furniture in our house ourselves. I know about this place. However, it is regrettable that we couldn’t buy anything here. There is no cataloging (obviously) and it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to find stuff that matches the theme of a room. I loved this feature 🙂

  16. June 11, 2008 11:25 am

    yes, nita shopping is sooooooo much fun, especially on the initial days of the month when u have just received the salary… wow!

  17. June 11, 2008 11:32 am

    *(All photographs are by me and copyrighted)* I see this line in all your post wherever u have used the photographs.

    Why not use watermarks? I have tried on mine and its an amaturish effort, but why dont you check it out and give ur feed back.

    • Rajesh permalink
      May 31, 2012 8:35 am

      hey sakhi, I would love to get a jhoola (hichco) from Ahmedabad. I visit Ahmedabad often. If you can guide me on where one would be available I would be obliged.

  18. June 11, 2008 4:47 pm

    No way, she wudnt allow me to pick up a few stuff for ma house in Bangalore 😉

  19. June 12, 2008 8:02 pm

    I liked the statement

    (All photographs are by me and copyrighted)

    But I guess once newspapers have stolen your work, its not surprising you have added this 🙂

    Well, I have been doing this almost from the beginning. Even a post I wrote in december 2006 mentioned this. I even had a creative common notice for some time but nothing helps if a person is determined to steal. – Nita.

  20. VIKASH PATEL permalink
    June 30, 2008 11:09 am

    Are their any other good furniture markets in India worth exploring? And does anyone know of a good place that breaks down/classifies the different styles of furniture in India?

  21. maitri shah permalink
    June 30, 2008 2:55 pm

    i am a student of architecture.for my thesis topic i am actually looking at the area of oshiwara as it is up for redevelopment.did u also see the workshops where all these items are made/repaired?also,if u dont mind i would like to use some of the pictures you have clicked for my project.(it was raining the day i wen too…coudnt click any).it would be really helpful.
    very nice article, thank you.

  22. June 30, 2008 3:20 pm

    Maitri, you are welcome to use 2-3 pictures of mine in your project but it is very important to give an acknowledgement – say that the pictures are courtesy Nita J Kulkarni. That’s all that is necessary, but absolutely essential. Thanks.

  23. rajah permalink
    April 27, 2009 6:32 pm

    hi its nice pic,i am staying in chennai,i aslo got many antiques,i got it from chennai,

  24. May 18, 2009 6:59 pm

    Checked it out today! Deff going to get some things for the flat!

  25. Ashim permalink
    June 21, 2010 3:48 pm

    Hey Nita

    Just wondering if you know any other such markets in Mumbai. One of my friend is interested in buying furniture for the house just for 2 years and does not want to spend a wholesome of money as also she is a student?


  26. Bryan permalink
    September 18, 2010 10:44 pm

    We have an antique shop in northeastern Pennsylvania and have recently purchased most of our inventory from a gentleman who travelled to India periodically to shop for antiques and shipped the inventory he purchased back to the U.S. He passed away suddenly, and after speaking with his family it seems he didn’t share his contacts or information about where he specifically went on these shopping ventures with anyone in his family. We are going to try to do it on our own and plan to travel to Mumbai in October. I have read that many of these shopkeepers have arrangements predefined and offer to ship any purchases you make from them back home for you. Yesterday, while doing some research on the internet I found a reference to the import/export law in India which stated that one must have an IEC number issued federally by India to engage in export from India. Do you know if we will need to apply for this IEC number if we have the shipping of our purchases arranged by the merchants with whom we conduct business. Also, I am wondering if we would need the number to package and ship some of the purchases ourselves in cases where the merchant does not offer this service.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.


    Bryan, I wish I could help you but this is beyond my knowledge and experience. I suggest you ask an expert as legal hassles is the last thing you need. – Nita

  27. December 9, 2011 10:22 am

    Any idea if they arrange for transport out of Mumbai?

  28. Ifty permalink
    February 28, 2012 4:07 pm

    How about price of these furnitures? any one, any idea?

    You can bargain and it depends on the condition. – Nita

  29. Mufeeda permalink
    May 31, 2012 1:19 am

    Hey do you know any place close to Bandra? I was hoping I wouldnt have to spend a bomb on the transportation cost.. 🙂

    • May 31, 2012 8:14 am

      Such unique markets are usually one and only in any city! There is a place which sells second-hand furniture near Bandra station but it is not antiques. To get hold of real antique furniture you need to spend that extra on transportation. It will be a few hundred rupees.

  30. Rashid Ahmed permalink
    March 3, 2013 11:54 am

    Super. The pictures really helped. Think I’ll go investigate this place today.. Loved the article. Thank you.

  31. Ansar Ahmad Amir permalink
    December 25, 2014 9:47 pm

    I saw Oshiwara market in photographs .I want to know a fully loaded furniture all in one loaded truck cost minimum/maximum cost.

  32. September 24, 2015 5:49 am

    Nice write up. GPS coordinates, or a route map would be nice.

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