I spent some quality time in Delhi, the capital of India. This city does boast of having a diverse cultural and historical identity. From antiques and handicrafts in Sundar Nagar to luxury brands available at DLF Emporio, the capital overflows with bazaars, malls and markets. The open-air market ‘Dilli Haat’ features both transitional and permanent vendors. It resembles that of the traditional village market, designed to showcase products from all over the country. Paharganj, located close to New Delhi Railway Station, is another popular shopping spot, locally called the Hippie Market. It offers bargain-friendly jewelry, incense, textiles, clothes, shoes, bags, etc.
Paharganj and Dilli Haat are both bustling, vibrant markets. There are also other shopping markets that deserve special mention.
1. Kamla Nagar
I have visited this traditional market several times and found very few foreigners coming here. Based in Old Delhi, it is a favorite among the locals for their day-to-day goods. I came across household items, clothes, stationery, bangles, etc. Henna (Mehendi) is popular here with artists sitting on stools in front of picture books.
This marketplace houses both open-air stalls and government-approved shops. Here, I found traditional clothing items, shoe carpets, jewelry, clothing, textiles, handicraft, furniture, paintings and accessories. You need to bring cash (in Rupees). Many shops do not accept credit cards. Do enjoy De Paul’s cold coffee. It is served with a straw in a glass.
3. Chandni Chowk
This market is claimed to be established in 1650 A.D. by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor. It is also Shahjahanabad’s (Old Delhi) busiest and oldest market. There are two historical sites on either side, namely, Fatehpur Masjid and the Lal Qila (Red Fort). Within walking distance is India’s largest mosque, the Jama Masjid.
There are numerous shops here that specialize in leather goods, spices, crafts, silver and silk. Several renowned restaurants, sweet shops and food stands adorn the market. Notable ones are Ghantewala Halwai, Bikaner Sweet Shop, Meghraj & Sons and the original Haldiram’s. The locality also boasts a labyrinth of neighborhoods, small streets, and historic private residences.
Chandni Chowk is considered to be Asia’s ‘Most Crowded Street’. It has exceptionally narrow side streets, and not much personal space. Travelers can easily get lost in the flurry of activities taking place here.
4. Khan Market
It ranks among the world’s most expensive commercial locations while boasting of numerous restaurants and shops. Also present are moderately priced stores such as Amrapali (jewelry) and Fabindia (garments). Forest Essentials is my personal favorite as it offers Ayurvedic body and bath products. There is an Italian jaunt named Big Chill Café that serves delicious lunch options. Take the metro to avoid getting stuck in Delhi traffic and to enjoy greater accessibility. It is the world’s first metro to receive an environmental-friendly construction certification.