Bazaar Chowrasta is the famous "wet market" at Penang Road. At a "wet
market" you can buy groceries, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. Mostly
wet markets are morning markets. They are keeping the fish wet with
water, so the floor is wet.
The original Chowrasta Market was built in 1890 by the George Town
municipality. The front portion facing Penang Road was rebuilt in 1920
and has remained virtually unchanged until 1981 when a new market was
built in its place. In Urdu, Chowrasta means "four cross roads". In the
early days, more than three-quarters of the stall holders were Indian
Muslims from south India.
The Chowrasta Bazaar is a well-stocked bazaar boasting of prices that even
the locals will call cheap.
Visit the market early in the morning if you plan to spend some time
looking at the various interesting things sold here, because all the
shops close at 7pm.
Bean paste biscuits and preserved nutmeg cost up to 30% cheaper here
compared with carefully packaged haunts which seemingly exist only for
the tourist currency, and bargaining is allowed, even encouraged.
Besides foods that you can find here, from Chinese to Malay and Indian,
you can find local products like TAO SAH PIAH, dried fruits, and lots of
cheap clothing and accessories.
There are a few interesting second-hand bookstores upstairs.
They are all piled high with books and books. You can find almost any type
of book here.
You can also walk around Penang Road after visiting the market. Here you can find
shops selling souvenirs, locally made products, and some very unique
You will also find some very old shops along the road selling biscuits,
paintings, and furniture. These shops have been here for over a hundred
years - generations and generations have taken over the family business
Next to the Chowrasta Bazaar is the jual murah (cheap sale).
You can buy here cheap bags and clothes.
The area around Chowrasta Market has been a settlement for Tamils from Kadayanallur in southern India (in present-day Tamil Nadu), since the mid 19th century. In fact, the entire stretch of George Town from Market Street through Chulia Street ending at present-day Penang Road and Transfer Road was an expansive Indian settlement that dwindled in size over time, to only Little India as well as various other
parts in the city.
In the 1870s and particularly 1880s, a massive influx of Chinese immigrants replaced the Indians in places such as Campbell Street, Kimberley Street and Cintra Street. Even the originally Indian Chulia Street saw a makeover as many Cantonese and Hakka moved in.
For that reason, Chowrasta was known as "Kelinga Ban San" in Hokkien, meaning "South Indian Market." To this day, there are still shops along Lebuh Tamil that are run by the Tamil community of Chowrasta Market.
The first permanent market building was erected by the Commissioners of the Municipality of George Town - precursor of the Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang, MPPP - in the year 1890, at the cost of $16,471. The structure, which is single storey tall, remained unchanged until 1960.
In 1961, the old market was demolished to make way for the new structure, built at a cost of $1,310,000, and is still standing to this day. When it was completed, it was one of the first buildings in Penang to be fitted with escalators, which brings wide-eyed users straight to the wet market level. There were also four service lifts. Both of these have since been dismantled.
The market will be given a multi-million ringgit facelift under the watchful eyes of award-winning architect Laurence Loh who famously restored both Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the Khoo Kongsi
that was gazetted a World Heritage Site. Chowrasta Market is not like any other market in the country. Its history is longer than that of many Malaysian towns and cities.
Stay duration at the Chowrasta Bazaar: approx. 1 hour