“Fek dihane thariya balam gayine Jharia pahuchane ki na,”these lyrics of an emotional Bhojpuri song give solace to 22 year old Amit Jha, working as a manual labour in Azadpur Mandi :Asia’s largest vegetable and Fruit market, Amit says that Azadpur mandi is his second home ,first one of course being his village in Bihar. But the distance is bridged when he listens to Bhojpuri music.

Azadpur mandi is a microcosm of India where music of every region can be heard as you walk through this crowded place.It is 3 am at the Azadpur Mandi and the process of unloading the vegetables and other products is on. The Mandi is spread across 90 acres. There are 438 big shops and 928 small shops. With more than 6000 traders ,this national distribution market operates at multifarious levels.

It is an ecosystem that generates ancillary employment to many such as Raj Kumar from Champaran district, who sells spicy pakoras . There is Devendra from Rohtak district of Haryana running a profitable tea shop. Women are not left behind here. .From selling to counting boxes and sometimes unloading the heavy boxes they hold their own.

The Mandi never sleeps and the photographs below capture the eclectic mood and ambience of Asia’s largest:

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Amit Kumar Jha is loading the just arrived potatoes from Nagpur for the retailer in Delhi.

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Munshi (Manager) marking the sacks so as to make delivery easier .

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Premi with his loaded rickshaw is stuck in jam inside the jam packed Mandi.

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Cauliflower direct from farms being weighed by wholesalers .

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Market is a feeding spot for cattle.

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Resting spot for workers, where they share their woes, their life and politics.

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Workers and traders enjoying a joke after strenuous work hours.

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BimlaDevi, a manual worker takes time off

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Women sifting garlic

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Rajkumar makes delicious street food

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Mobile salons

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Decorated weighing machines

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Empty Sacks are being carried by a worker, which is additional work for which the labourers are not always paid

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Women selling vegetables

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Mandi is a place that caters to every occasion be it a wedding or a birthday.

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Restless Mandi never sleeps .

(Cover Photo: Premlata snatching a quick smoke)

(Rajat Mishra ,is a Freelance journalist and pursuing Master in Convergent Journalism From AJK Mass Communication Research centre ,Jamia Milia Islamia,New Delhi.All photos are taken by him)