Shopping in Chandni Chowk Old Delhi – To go or no!

Shopping in Chandni Chowk Old Delhi – To go or no!
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About Chandni Chowk

It was a family wedding and we were on a shopping spree. I was in a new market every day during my visit to India. I soon realized Delhi is not the same as it was 15 years ago not only in terms of price but overall shopping experience is changed. With so many markets and so many options, it is crazy when it comes to shopping for the Indian wedding.

We visited so many places in Delhi to look for a wedding dresses but no luck. Being a tech savvy I started my online research on prices and designs. Seeing Chandni chowk topping the list on Google, I asked myself – how can I miss the wedding hub on my list? I have been to this place couple of times for the amazing street food it has.

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From my previous visit which was 6 years ago, I could imagine Blaring horns, loud street vendors and shabby market place. The old buildings having multiple story shops, passersby through tight corridors, street stalls, rickshaw rides on a bargain and small shops gives this place a heart and soul. Chandni chowk has a character that draws you in, no matter how much you resist.

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The next day I was all geared up for a visit and it was nothing less than an adventure. So come along and imagine the oldest market in Delhi through my post. Almost in the center of the city, Chandni Chowk is a world in itself . Chandni Chowk is home to many small markets and shops. From designer Indian outfits to silver and stationary, to heritage and food, to wholesale wedding accessories, perfumes and silver there is something for everyone.

How to reach Chandni Chowk?

Chandni Chowk is a market place located in the heart of Old Delhi, India. Though metro is the best way to reach Chandni Chowk but we were four people so we decided to book an uber.
It’s easily and conveniently reachable by Metro train. The closest Metro station is Chandni Chowk on the Yellow Line and Lal Qila (Red Fort) on the Heritage Line.

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Taking the metro will help you avoid crazy traffic (which is always there even on Sundays). If you are visiting with family you can use Uber/ Ola or any of local taxi service. Expect to get stuck in traffic around this area. During my visit through Uber I got off the taxi in front of red fort and crossed the road to Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir because of the traffic and congestion taking a u-turn was 30 minutes more.

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What to do in Chandni Chowk?

There are different areas that cater to different kinds of shoppers so make sure you are in the right place otherwise exploring streets to reach the right place is an overwhelming experience. (Especially if it’s your first time visiting India).

Be on a Shopping spree

The serpentine lanes of Chandni Chowk can be overwhelming to a first-timer. But once you adjust to the hustle and bustle, you’ll find yourself drawn to the bling of this oldest market. Vendors largely remain grouped together in specialist bazaars according to what they sell. This makes it somewhat easier to find what you’re looking for.
I have listed below goods that tourists can find at respective areas.

Perfumes and jewelry at Dariba Kalan

Daribal kalan is a famous spot selling customized perfumes. Gulab Singh Johri Mal is the oldest perfumery of Delhi. It is around 200 year old and today it is run by the seventh generation of the Founder.

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This place has a significance if we look at the history of this place during Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s rule. Dariba Kalan was lined with shops that sold all kinds of jewels and precious stones in the past. Today it’s famous for selling beautiful silver jewelry priced much more reasonably than in other Delhi markets.

Fabrics, and sarees at Katra Neel

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Neel means Indigo, also used as a fabric whitener. Historically this neighborhood was a hub for indigo manufacturers, that’s where it got it’s name Katra neel. It is best known for its menswear retail stores. In fact, Raymond which is India’s leading menswear fabric retailer, set up its first franchise of Old Delhi right here. Also one can find traditional Sarees and un -stitched fabrics / dress materials in this market.

Asia’s largest spice market at Khari Baoli

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Khari Baoli is a street near the Red Fort. Through these years, Khari Baoli has grown to become the largest spice market in Asia. Along with a variety of local spices, nuts, dry fruits, herbs, grains and pulses, at Khari Baoli you can find items as exotic as dried mulberries and blueberries.

Traditional wedding dresses at Kinari Bazaar

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While you visit Kinari bazaar, It’s a common sight to find soon-to-be brides or their families loaded with shopping bags. Apart from gorgeous wedding dresses (lehengas), the market is also an ideal place to find all sorts of things required for Indian weddings. It sells everything from accessories, envelops, gift wrappings, bangles, decoration trays and foot wears.

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Books and stationery at Nai Sarak

Nai Sarak, which is a Hindi word that translates to “new road” in English, is a home to Pre-owned educational or fiction textbooks.

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Facing stiff competition from online stores, the book sellers of Nai Sarak have low business of late. This street is still a treat to readers who love the smell of books and are looking for something specific.

Cameras at Kucha Choudhary Market

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Chandni Chowk also has Asia’s biggest camera accessories market. Here you will find hundreds of stalls selling camera bags, tripods, battery chargers, lenses, filters, and albums. While visiting here for shopping, ensure that you know your camera parts and are able to check the authenticity. While the shops may look deceptive, cameras, lenses, tripods and other paraphernalia of every brand and in every price range imaginable is to be found here.

And that’s not all, there are more areas of the market which sells different products mentioned below…

Shawls and peals at Moti Bazaar
Sunglasses and shoes at Ballimaran Market
Brass and copper antiques at Gali Guliyan
Chemicals at Tilak Bazaar
Hardware and paper products at Chawri Bazaar

I have been visiting for food but when I visited for a shopping purpose I realized there is simply too much to do and explore of Chandni Chowk and I cannot make it all happen in a day. So I decided to take one day at a time and complete the pending shopping another day.

Savor the Street Food

Chandni Chowk isn’t just about shopping. Foodies will love some finger licking food varieties here, served by outlets that are centuries-old. Here’s my pic on some favorite foods to try while in Chandni Chowk. The good news is these are extremely delicious treats which are pocket friendly.
The trick is to try a little bit of everything and keep reminding your taste buds that there’s loads more to come.

1.Paranthe Wali Gali

Paranthe Wali Gali is renowned for its succulent deep-fried stuffed parathas. This narrow lane filled with small shops selling the Indian stuffed bread called paranthas. These flatbreads are deep fried and drizzled with butter/ ghee. There are generation successors who run the street food business maintaining the same taste and quality. You can find paranthas stuffed with regular fillings like potato, cauliflower, peas and radish.

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Also some offbeat varieties are available like lemon & chilli, cashew, papaya, dried raisins and bitter gourd and sweet ones prepared with thick condensed milk.

Price of paranthas varies based on the filling but a conventional parantha costs not more than $1.

2. Dahi bhallas at Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner

Dahi bhalla is a favourite North Indian snack which is a type of deep fried croquet made from lentil paste and spices like cumin. These soft water soaked dumplings squeezed and served cold with yoghurt and tamarind sauce. It is served marinated with sweet and spicy chutney. Pomegranate seeds and shredded carrots are added at the top for the garnishing and extra crunch.

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Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner is the most famous place in old  Delhi that sells one of the best dahi bhallas in Chandni Chowk.

Price for one plate is approximately Rs50 (.65 USD)

3. Daulat Ki Chaat

The name might confuse you but it is not a chaat. It is a melt-in-your-mouth dessert. Milk is the main ingredient of this dessert which is Power-packed with flavors. Daulat ki Chaat is sold by different vendors on the streets during winter. It looks like a small landscape of foam. It is so light like a snowflake that melts in mouth like foam. Blended with sweetened mawa and topped with a saffron mixture and dry fruits.

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It is one of the must try recommendations. This heavenly dessert made of milk froth is sold during winters.  Daulat ki chaat is priced at Rs 35 per plate (.50 USD)

4. Jalebi & Samosa

Your Chandni Chowk trip is incomplete if you don’t have Jalebi or Samosa (some of the most popular Indian street foods worldwide).

Jalebi :

Fried ringlets of flour fermented with yoghurt and dipped in sugar syrup for a sweet coating is an amazing preparation. Hot jalebis are made very quickly by frying them together as a chain of 10 to 15 at a time. The perfect blend of crunchiness and sweetness that this dessert dish offers is nothing less than a fresh breeze of flavors to the taste buds.

I felt these Jalebi’s at Chandni chowk Old Famous Jalebi Wala are bigger in size than the usual size of jalebis sold anywhere else. They are the oldest to sell Jalebi’s in Delhi and they do it either by per piece or by kilogram.

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The price of 1 kg Jalebi is Rs 500 which is approximately 7 $ for a kilo.

There is also an option to top it up with rabri ( thick condensed milk) it costs 100 gm jalebi with 50 gm rabri at Rs 75 (around 1.5 USD)

Samosa:

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A crunchy potato filled pastry which is generally triangle in shape. Deep fried in oil or ghee. The most popular Indian tea time snack served with sweet and spicy chutney. A must try street specialty, if you don’t mind bit of the spice.
I had them at old famous Jalebi wala but I think you can try them anywhere in Chandni chowk like Haldirams (but be ready to get in the queue for at least 30 minutes) or Atulji samosas.

5. Puri with curry & halwa

It is another amazing lunch or breakfast option to try. The most famous shops selling Puris (Deep fried Indian flatbread made from wheat flour ) are following. The Kadar Nath Premchand Sweet shop located in Kinari Bazaar (one can also try their samosas and gaajar ka halwa (carrot halwa). Shyam sweets near chawri Bazaar or Shiv Misthan Bhandaar . The deep fried puris can be enjoyed with a savory chickpeas curry or potato curry based on your liking. Some shops sell puris with sweet Halwa (an indian dessert made from wheat or semolina). This meal could be enjoyed with spicy curry or sweet Halwa or with both. The Halwa – puri combination is every sweet-lover’s favorite and is a perfect meal during a winter afternoon.

A plate of Puri containing 2 puris ( deep fried flatbread) and a curry is priced approximately Rs 35 ($.75)

6. Rabri falooda (chilled condensed milk drink with soft noodles)

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Rabri falooda is made of fresh milk boiled to a perfect thickness, cooled and kept in a tub of ice. This drink is refreshing in summer. Served in a mud mug or a glass, this is a great summer cooler. It’s thick sweetened milk that is boiled for long time till it is reduced to half. It is served with soft noodles (optional) and has pieces of almonds and cardamom mixed in the drink. A cup of Rabri falooda costs Rs40 (approximately .75 $)

7. Mithai (Indian Sweets)

There are many sweet shops located in Chandni Chowk catering to sweet tooth. The Chaina Ram sweet shop located next to the Fatehpuri Masjid is famous for their sweets like Karachi Halwa, saffron barfi (milk fudge) and gulab jamun. Many celebrities come to this sweet shop as regular customers because of the traditional way of preparation. All sweets are sold per Kilogram at different prices.

If you’ve never been to Chandni Chowk , it is definitely an adventure to go on. You’ll leave feeling full, happy and wanting more. Teaming with diversity, people of different faiths live in peace and harmony. It is home to the famous Jama Masjid, the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and many small temples.

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Safety and Etiquette

Chandni Chowk will overwhelm your senses if you are visiting for the first time. Expect a big dose of culture shock.

Wear comfortable shoes that you can easily take off, as many shops make you sit on floor mattresses for doing wedding shopping.

Dress in non-revealing clothes. It is a crowded place with narrow lanes where one can expect many unintentional shoulder rubs. I recommend to carry a scarf and wear comfortable clothes that cover you well.

Be prepared as you need to walk a lot to discover even one area of the market. Even if you do not have many things on your shopping list, Chandni chowk is attractive to see. Women will find it useful to carry a head scarf, especially if visiting religious places.

Go with an empty bladder and a few mineral water bottles and an empty bladder, finding a washroom is a struggle.
Access to Google Maps on your cell phone will be invaluable for navigating your way around. Don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions as well.

Pickpockets operate in the area, so take extra care to keep your belongings safe and secure.

When shopping try to bargain with venders to get the best price. However, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are fake products available here too!

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Lastly, try to go with the flow and simply soak up the frenetic atmosphere. Everything you’ve imagined about India being tumultuous is coming to life at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, So enjoy your time here!

 

Naina

A wanderlust follower who believes travel broadens your horizons. I love to explore new places & beauty of nature as it fuels life into my soul.

4 thoughts on “Shopping in Chandni Chowk Old Delhi – To go or no!

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