Fantastic Finds in Chandni Chowk, One of New Delhi's Oldest Street Market Districts


Subodh Agnihotri



Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk district is home to one of the Indian capital's oldest and busiest markets - as well as the country's busiest wholesale market - dating back to the 17th century. It's a colorful, raucous mix of shoppers both local and international browsing and buying from vendors offering an enormous range of products from household goods to art, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It's a singular (and highly Instagrammable) exemplar of Indian lifestyle and culture that's eye-opening and will make a compelling part of your visit to Delhi even if you don't spend a single rupee. Here are a half dozen of the top categories offering remarkable souvenirs for visitors:

Silver Items & Jewelry


Silver was an important part of the luxury accessories prevalent during the Mughal Empire of the early 16th through mid-19th century, so it remains deeply embedded in the country's luxury market to this day. And in Chandni Chowk - especially along Dariba Kalan Lane - you can find a wide variety of silver articles from simple rings and utensils to high-end dishes, decor, and adornments such as Kundan and Meenakari jewelry (the latter being the most precious and elaborate, its center in Rajasthan and incorporating exquisite depictions of flora and fauna, and especially prized by Mughal royal women).


Decorative Lighting


Lamps and lights are another large category, with offerings both contemporary and antique - and in the latter case, again, the products of most interest to visitors will be the elaborate colored-glass and mosaic hanging/standing lamps, sconces, and other fixtures in classic Mughal style, whether antiques or present-day reproductions. The district's best destination for lighting is Bhagirath Palace (which despite its palatial name is actually a dustry, tightly packed 19th-century building).




Vintage Articles


For collectors, Chandni Chowk has a large 'flea market' component, as well, with all matter of items from Victorian-era spectacles and vintage watches and clothing to Polaroid and other cameras of yesteryear (these can be found especially at Kucha Choudhary Market).

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Spices


Indian cuisine is world famous for its staggering variety of exotic spices, and Khari Baoli at the western end of Chandni Chowk is where you'll want to head to browse and buy them, along with dried fruits, nuts, and herbs. Top stars include curries, makhanas (lotus-flower seeds, also known as fox nuts), chilis, dried plums, dried mulberries, and amla (aka Indian gooseberries, famous for medicinal qualities and widely used in Ayurvedic medicine). You can also find gift boxes containing a collection of spices.

Street Food


India's delicious street food is present in force along these streets and lanes, with numerous vendors selling more than a thousand kids of edible delights both savory and sweet, and some lanes particularly well known for its stalls and eateries, such as Gali Paranthe Wali (some shops here are up to 150 years old). Top items to look for include samosas, chole bhature (fried bread with spicy white chickpeas), golgappe (aka panipuri, a round, hollow, deep-fried crepe filled with flavorered water, tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala spice powder, potato, onion, and chickpeas), poori aloo (potato curry with puffy fry bread), dahi bhalle (flour dumplings drizzled with sweetened curd, chutneys, and chaat masala), kachori (deep-friend bread stuffed with spicy bean-flour filling), and kulfi (Indian-style icea cream).


Clothing/Textiles

You can find decorated and embroidered fabrics, saris, shirts/blouses, shawls, and dresses in numerous places in Chandni Chowk. One item of particular note is traditional Benaras silk, often quite expensive. You can also find leather accessories and pearl items here. Top clothing/textile markets include Katra Neel, Fatehpuri, Ballimaran (for shoes), and Moti (for pearl items).


Get more information on luxury Indian train and other tours at TravelogyIndia.com. And for more on other Delhi markets, click here.

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