Delhi flower mart is a feast for the senses (Feature)

August 8th, 2010 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rahul Vaishnavi
New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) The fragrance of roses and rajnigandha fill the air as temple bells ring in the background. A trip to the flower market in Connaught Place is an overwhelming experience for the senses, with the pavement sellers doing business worth lakhs of rupees every month.The Hanuman Temple flower market commences business at around 5 a.m. and closes at 9 a.m. It is India’s biggest wholesale cut-flower market and has been around for 20 years, claim shopkeepers.

Sellers set up temporary stalls outside the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) coffee house, put up for sale of flowers (fake and fresh), ferns, decoration items, beautiful bouquet baskets et al.

Rasheed Hussain’s stall does brisk business daily. When he opens shop, the city is asleep and when it is time for him to call it a day, the city dwellers are just beginning theirs.

Raham Ali has a stall of artificial flowers and decorative items like motidaane and motijhaadu which are made of painted scraps and twigs of tree bark.

“We earn around Rs.500,000 per month in the peak seasons — November to February and March to May,” Ali told IANS.

According to the shopkeepers, there are over 200 varieties of flowers in the market.

“Flowers like lilies, carnations and gerberas are the hot sellers. Their demand remains strong all the time,” said Ajab Singh, a wholesaler for the last eight years.

Kiosks selling coloured sprays, ribbons, decorative tapes, fancy wrapping papers, scissors and other things complement the flowers.

Vipin Aggarwal, the owner of a kiosk, said: “These items help in enhancing the look of the flowers and bouquets. We sell everything at wholesale price and the business is booming.”

The market exports flowers worth lakhs of rupees every month worldwide.

“We export to Russia, Holland, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries. We are a force to be reckoned with in the export market,” said Ajay Barua, vice president of the market association.

Overall, while the number of sellers, customers, quality and quantity of flowers have increased, issues like permanent shops and licences are still troubling the market, according to Barua.

“Out of around 2,000 wholesalers here, only 260 have licences. Moreover, the government has allotted us land in Ghazipur but we are reluctant to shift because there are no concrete structures ,” he said.

Every seller opined that if properly built shops at a permanent location are allotted, the business will increase manifold.

The Commonwealth Games are round the corner, and the wholesale market is eagerly eyeing the mega event. They anticipate strong sales and huge profits.

“The government is planning to buy flowers from Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun and other places. But I am sure the huge demand will not be met completely,” opined Barua.

“It is here that we come in. We are hopeful that the flowers from our mandi (market) will also be used in the Games,” he added.

“The best part is the wedding season which is just after the Games. It will be another golden opportunity to increase profits,” Barua said.

Harish Bansal, 41, who has been a regular at the market for the last eight years, said: “I visit the Hanuman Mandir every Tuesday morning and buy fresh flowers from this market.

“The bargain you get is just unbelievable. A carnation which sells outside for Rs.15-20 can be bought here for a mere Rs.5. This market is just irresistible,” he added.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at rahul.v@ians.in)

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