Tucked away in the byzantine lanes, at the very heart of this time-worn locality is the grandmother of all malls – Aziz Plaza. The very name conjures images of endless shopping, a plethora of options, the sound of crisp bargaining and purchases aplenty.

Subtle to the stunning, Aziz Plaza is the go-to place for return gifts and your Deepavali gifts solution. “Aziz Plaza kaisa jaathe?” is the one question almost every shopkeeper in Feelkhana must have been asked.

While entire lanes around Feelkhana and Begun Bazaar, have umpteen small stores selling mountains of merchandise, Aziz Plaza is the crowning glory of this shopping paradise as it’s all about economies of scale. Under one roof, it dazzles the visitor with almost an endless parade of items – from leather goods, crockery, jewellery, toys and handicrafts to steel utensils, luggage, cosmetics and even imported perfumes.

The huge complex started in the late 90s was built on the erstwhile Deepak Transport site. Housing more than 200 stores, Aziz Plaza is perennially busy (come rain or shine) as it supplies merchandise to almost the entire south India. The roads leading to it are typical to Old City and one wonders how autos, cars, two wheelers and people manage to zip in and out of these narrow spaces.

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Shailender Kumar, who has been running a toy and novelty store in the premises since 2003 calls it the only place in the city which has both wholesale and retail options. “Whether you need to buy one piece or thousand, this is the place to come.” the genial entrepreneur explains and adds, “The location is convenient to both city dwellers and out-of-towners thanks to the nearby MGBS and Nampally railway station and the options one gets are immense. In teddy bears alone, I have around 200 options! It’s also open on Sundays, making it convenient for everyone to drop in.”

People from all walks of life make a beeline here – from housewives shopping to make purchases within budget to NRI’s dropping in to buy return gifts for their housewarming ceremonies, there is something for everyone here. Archana Nagarur from Detroit, USA, who has bought the return gifts for a family function here says, “The options are staggering. Plus, the quality is really good. The latest models are here before they make it to the malls and it’s always good value for money.”

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The return gifts are indeed a big draw here as are the wedding paraphernalia which are of course, a must, for a big fat Indian wedding. Turbans, colourful baskets, glitzy wrapping paper, décor items and the works, everything from the subtle to the stunning is within reach here.

Another big draw at Aziz Plaza are the children’s toys and return gifts. From gizmos, cradles to Barbies, computer games and even diaper bags at discounted rates, it is an economical manna for parents. Contrary to the popular opinion that only price begets quality, the range here is spread across the spectrum ensuring that all wallet sizes feel right at home.

Mohammad Zubair who runs a watch outlet at the complex puts things into a nutshell when he says, “Aziz Plaza runs because of two things. One, the transportation to other cities/towns is easy due to its location. It’s surrounded by transporters who can send huge amounts of merchandise to most places in India within a day or two. Secondly, the range available is astounding. For example, if one wants to buy imported chocolates in wholesale, this is the place to come to.”

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As knots of women busy striking a deal surround us, it’s easy to understand the old world charm of Aziz Plaza. While malls and online shopping, are all about quality and convenience, this is a world full of surprise, that alchemical experience every shopper looks for.

Be it a chaatwaalah at the turn of the staircase or a unique unicorn pendant that looks incongruously out of place, Aziz Plaza is a gift that keeps on giving. Beware though, of buying stuff you would never use, like this writer bought a bunch of crockery which is safely deposited in an attic and isn’t coming down any time soon! #KhabarLive