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Anupriya Bedi Aug 14 2014

Secrets of Old Delhi

Debangana Sen Aug 14 2014
3 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Though a foodie and shopper’s paradise, Chandni Chowk and the nearby Chawri Bazar can be overwhelming for anyone who is not ‘in the know’. Here’s a brief Old Delhi travel guide that’ll help you make sense of the chaotic medley of shops and narrow alleys, and discover some hidden gems!

Jama Masjid (by Ashcoounter)


“Hazaroon khwaheeshen aise ki har khwahesh pay dum nikale,
Bahhut nikale meray armaan lekin phirr bhi kam nikale..”

Immortal lines by Mirza Ghalib, a famous 19th century poet, who lived and breathed in Delhi. His haveli still stands in one of the narrow streets of Chandni Chowk. You may have to ask around a bit, but it’s not difficult to find.

Ghalib ki Haveli (by Anwaraj)

Speaking of havelis, Haksar Haveli in Bazaar Sitaram is where Jawaharlal Nehru got married to Kamla Nehru back in 1916. And, former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf was born in the Naharvali Haveli!

Sarmad Shaheed Dargah is a hidden gem and a peaceful haven that sits close to the glorious Jama Masjid. The twin shrines of two Sufi saints lie next to each other demarcated by contrasting colors.

Hazrat Sufi Sarmad Shaheed Dargah (by Ramesh Lalwani)

The green tomb belonging to Khwaja Hare Bhare and the fiery red tomb belongs to the rebellious saint Sarmad, who lost his life in his quest for love and God. Many unconfirmed stories relay about his homosexual tendencies, his love for a Hindu Gujarati boy and his refusal to wear any clothes, all of which eventually led to his execution, ordered by Aurangzeb.


In this segment of the Old Delhi travel guide, we have enlisted the main markets in Chandni Chowk along with their individual speciality merchandise.

Khari Baoli: Dry fruits and spices

Indian spice varieties (by Deepak)

Kinari Bazar: All the blings and glitzy stuff - from bridal trousseau and embellishments to lacework and zari/zardosi designs. Kedara is a special shop that stocks up on rare ingredients used in wedding rituals.

Nai Sadak: Any kind of book (old and new), unpublished drafts, stationary and musical instruments. The Sunday Market is especially famous here. You can also sell your old books to the shopkeepers.

Nai Sarak on a Sunday (by Koshy Koshy)

Heads up for avid coin collectors! Every Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM, right next to the Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, sits a guy who sells old coins which may cost you anything from INR 5 to INR 500 per piece.

Chawri Bazaar:
It is scattered with old shops that have been selling brass and copperware for decades. This place is also famous for printing wedding invitations, paper decoratives and wallpapers.

Meena Bazaar (inside Red Fort): Also called Chatta Chowk Bazaar, this place is famous for fake antiques, wall paintings, embroidered handbags and artificial jewelry.

Chatta Chowk Bazaar (by Rohit Rath)

Dariba Kalan: Oldest bullion market in Delhi. This street sells all kinds of specialty jewelry. However, it is well known for its silver jewelry shops.

Gulab Singh Johrimal is a hidden gem here, that sells, itr, perfumes, incense sticks, potpourri and perfumed oils. Sold in lovely little jeweled decanters and with so many natural fragrance to choose from, it’s impossible to go back empty-handed! They also make customised perfume blends.

Churi Wali Gali: It has more than just bangles. Increased market demands have forced the shops to stock up on other merchandise like clips, earrings and dresses, but the countless varieties of bangles should be seen to be believed.

Churi Bazaar (by Mckaysavage)

Ballimaran Market: Famous (or infamous) for selling fake branded merchandise. A pair of RayBan sunglass will set you back by just INR 150. This is also great place for shopping for footwear.

Katra Neel: This market sells fabrics of every kind and gives you a flashback to the Mughal markets of the bygone era. This place also has one of the oldest temples of Ma Kali.

Bhagirath Palace: Allopathic medicines, electrical goods and medical equipments.

The New Gramophone House in Pleasure Market (opposite Lajpat Rai Market) caters to the old school music lovers. This place stocks up on unique collections of old and new vinyl gramophone records. It claims to be the biggest and varied collection of vinyl records in India, with clientèle from all over the country and abroad.

Gramophone (by PermaCulture)

Lal Kuan Bazaar: Located close to the Chawri Bazar Metro Station, this is arguably the most colourful and vibrant part of Old Delhi, famous for selling kites. Varieties of kites of all shapes and sizes are made and sold here. The Iqra Kite Maker’s shop is the most famous here.

One thing that goes in your favor if you are particularly interested in Old Delhi is that you will also find a good number of hotels in Old Delhi near the bazaar. Having picked one of these hotels will give you the conveniences and comforts of close connectivity as you can easily access the bazaars.


Tandoori Chicken (by Eatlo)

Matia Mahal, near Gate no 1 of Jama Masjid, is called the food capital of Delhi by many local foodies, who swear by the mutton korma, chicken changezi and khameeri roti at the Al Jawahar Restaurant located on this street. Another hot favourite is the creamy chicken drowned in melted butter served at Aslam’s Restaurant. And of course, no description of Matia Mahal would be complete without mentioning the famous Karim’s.

Chicken Biriyani (by Delhi 6)

Mutton Qorma (Miansari66)

Vegetarian breakfast and snacking options near Jama Masjid should start at Chaina Ram Sindhi Halwai and end at Giani’s. Chaina Ram is spectacularly famous for its melt-in-your-mouth karachi halwa. The chhole-puri (spicy chickpea curry served with fried flat bread), pakora, barfi, malai ghewar, sev paak and gujiya also bring in a lot of business. Cons: Long queues and pricey. Also, not a place for the calorie conscious!
Giani’s rabri-faluda and dal halwa are stuff of legends. Enough said!

Gole Hatti near Khari Baoli is another good breakfast option. If you are willing to experiment, try their palak-chhole-chawal (chickpea cooked in a spinach gravy and served with rice) that is served in earthen mugs, very reminiscent of the railway chaimatkas.

Right in front of Meena Bazaar, Qureshi Ke Kababs serves the most succulent chicken and beef kebabs. For the ultimate sugar high, head over to Kallan Sweets and take your pick from the malai laddu, shahi tukda, habshi halwa and rabri!

Kababs sold in Chandni Chowk (by Eatlo)

An Indian sweet platter (by Sharma Mishthan Bhandar)

Enjoy a desi version of the Subway on the go! Right next to the above mentioned Kali Temple in Katra Neel Market, you will find the famous Sandwich maker who dishes out a variety of sandwiches for the health-conscious shoppers. Another healthy option is to try the kulle ki chat (an interesting take on the fruit chat) at Hira Lal Chat.

Next time you go to the oh-so-famous-and-frankly-overrated Parathewali Gali in Chandni Chowk, try the khurchan at Pundit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan’s shop. It is a unique street food that is basically thickened and sweetened condensed milk, garnished with pistachios. Also try the delicious naan khatai (Indian biscuits) baked and sold in carts.

Shyam Sweet Shop, a few hundred meters from Chawri Bazar Metro Station, and Shiv Misthan Bhandar in Kucha Ghasi Ram, are famous for bedmi pooris and alu ki sabzi (a kind of deep fried bread served with a spicy potato curry). Their nagori halwa (eaten with bedmi-alu) is so good and runs out so fast that only a few mortals get to taste it ever. Served only during breakfast hours 5:30 am to 8:30 am.

Bedmi poori and aloo sabzi (by Ekabhishek)

For an authentic taste of the traditional north Indian kheer (milk porridge), head over to Bade Mian’s Kheer Shop in Lal Kuan Bazaar.

Dogra Snacks, an unimpressive looking and remarkably difficult to find eatery, is the only place where you won’t scrunch up your face while eating karela (bitter gourd). The crispy karela pakoras served with the kanji pickle are a must try. This place also dishes out the best bread pakoras and ram ladoos you’ll ever taste. It is located in Kinari Bazaar, outside Gandhi Maidan Parking, near the auto stand.

A pakora platter drizzled with banana chutney (by Roland zh)

Relishing the ethnic sumptuous food that are drenched in spices in one of the popular restaurants in Delhi is certainly an aspect to relish before winding-up the tour.


Not many are aware of this, but some of the shops in Matia Mahal also provide Pakistani Visa assistance service, along with the Pakistani currency exchange and Haj Travel Helpdesk for frequent travellers.

Hajj (by Fatma.M)

This brings us to the end of our Old Delhi travel guide. Filled with different allures of old as well as contemporary world, Delhi is indeed a prime jewel of India tourism. This is by no means a complete list, but only our personal favourites. If you wish to enlighten us more about Chandni Chowk, please add your comments below. Till then, stay tuned for more.

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