Against the backdrop of the mighty Jama Masjid and Red Fort in Delhi, the Chandni Chowk (Moonlit Square) shopping experience is like no other — as a walk through its serpentine gullies, past bustling bazaars and teeming crowds keeps unveiling an enchanting Arabian Nights-like world. From big showrooms to tiny shops, there’s much in store to delight both the first-time as well as seasoned shoppers. Here are some of the highlights of this fascinating market...
For the brides & their maids
It’s a universally known fact that the moment any wedding is fixed, plans for a shopping schedule in Delhi-6 get underway. After all, that’s part of family tradition, for, in all likelihood, the bride-to-be’s mom and grandmom would have shopped there too. Although shops selling wedding-wear are spread all across the area, those in the Katra Neel area (the wholesale market for all kinds of clothes, especially for shaadis) open up a variety — from saris in silks, chiffons, georgettes and crepe embellished with beads, sequins and embroidery.
A must-do in Chandni Chowk is the 100-year-old Ram Chandra Krishna Chandra Sarees in Paranthewali Gali. Its traditional Benarasi, jamdani, gharchola and temple range is sure to leave you delighted. Brides looking for Indo-westernwear may head for Pakeeza Plaza in Moti Bazar that offers Cinderella-like evening gowns together with traditional stuff such as gararas and shararas, salwar-suits, anarkali outfits, etc.
Besides the Vallabh Emporio in Katra Asharfi, a walk down Nai Sadak unveils a number of shops, including Asiana Couture with its trendy range. And yes, if you’re looking for lehengas or saris designed by some of our top designers but don’t want to pay the prices they quote, fret not — their copies are created here quite effortlessly. Walk into Dalmia Fashions in Nai Sadak or Om Prakash Jawahar Lal in Naya Katra and pick up the designer outfits of your choice.
Scents to indulge in
There may be no denying your penchant for French perfumes, but attars have their own place in people’s preferences too. From even half a kilometre away, the presence of Gulab Singh Johrimal in Dariba Kalan can be felt in the lovely fragrances emanating from its huge collection of traditional perfumes. The variety offered by this 200-year-old shop comes extracted from fresh flowers and sandalwood oils, and caters to the different seasons of the year.
Essential oils from plants such as lemongrass, peppermint, tea-tree rose, bergamot, jasmine and citronella, among many others, are packaged in pretty little bottles. Incense sticks and cones, soaps and essential oils are also on offer. You can also visit the Attar House Perfumers in Bazar Chitli Qabar near Jama Masjid to check out their collection ranging from pure attars to branded synthetic varieties as well.
Spice ‘em up
Besides the fascinating 400-year-old Khari Baoli that is famous for its spice market, many of the old-timers swear by the distinct smell, taste and purity of Kedara Masale, a shop in Kinari Bazar that goes back to the 1800s. Its specialties like garam masala, chana and chhole masalas are a must for your kitchen shelf. And yes, even aloo masala — for the potato preparation to be had with bedmi-puris.
The amazing range of traditional drinks can be picked up from Hakeem Chhote Lal Shri Ram Jain in Bazar Gulian that also offers desi medicines, jari-bootis, and of course, sherbats, including thandai, kesariya thandai, badam kesariya, kesar pista, khas, gulab, kewra, phalse, bel, etc.
A silver lining
No visitor to Chandni Chowk can resist the temptation of heading towards Dariba, the street housing hundreds of shops selling exquisite silver jewellery. Among the most popular here is Ram Prakash Vinod Kumar Jewellers that offers a mix of both old and contemporary designs. Nestling in a narrow gali is Shriram Hariram Jewellers that prefers sticking to traditional designs — stuff that even many young shoppers appreciate. Those into modern designs must step into the Regalia Jewellery House or the Jain Silver Arts Jewellery showrooms whose designs, from dainty pieces to more chunky stuff, are sure to bowl you over. Most of the shops are happy to do a bit of customising.
Despite e-invites fast becoming a trend, traditional wedding cards continue to have a field day. Many shoppers zip down to Chawri Bazar just to check out the different and amazing designs on offer. And among the go-to places is Emporio The Cart Studio and Poddar Cards, among many others.
As the nuptial preparations get underway, people seek out Aggarwal Zari House in Paranthewali Gali that houses a variety of accessories such as borders, beads, tassels together with fabrics and even ready-made blouse pieces, etc. They even customise borders based on your colour and taste preferences.
Then there is Jaipur Gem Stones that gets all their stones from the Pink City of Rajasthan. You can take your pick from earrings, necklaces, bangles and pendants that take their inspiration from Tanjore paintings and miniatures.
Delhi-6 is also the place for some exquisite brassware that makes for splendid gifts. A walk past the Haveli Dharampura takes you towards Tripti Handicrafts that offers a stunning range of artefacts in brass.