Everything in New Delhi is exciting and thrilling, but it is New Delhi’s markets that pump the blood through the city’s veins. Every single market is an exciting assault on the senses, and once visitors have acclimatized, there is nothing better than spending hours among the throng of people, smells and sounds of these five wonderful markets in New Delhi.
A feast for the eyes, Shanti Mohalla is definitely one of the most entertaining markets in New Delhi. Although still relatively unknown, its popularity is on the rise, and the sheer variety of fabric to be sold here is mind-boggling. There are over 2000 shops exhibiting endless bolts of fabric in a maze of lanes crammed with trucks, rickshaws, pull carts and honking two wheelers. Colored fabric, printed or plain, some embroidered, others with sequins, cotton, silk or denim; this market is extraordinary. Plenty of cloth is sold by weight instead of by meter, so definitely bring an extra suitcase.
Art and antique aficionados will bask at Sunder Nagar Market. It is a rather quiet market with a reputation of stocking stylish and classy products of superior quality, and therefore attracts mostly connoisseurs and collectors looking for specific items. From exquisite garments, heirloom jewelry and authentic ceramic to carved-wood furniture, marble figures and tribal artifacts, this market caters to extravagance and beauty. There are numerous art galleries as well, selling oil paintings and contemporary art by Indian masters like Satish Gujral and Krishna Khanna. The leisurely charm and lazy ambiance ensure that this market is a pleasant area to stroll around and marvel at the artistry of Indian handicrafts.
Khari Baoli is Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, and has been up and running ever since the 17th century. Although it has become a common touristic destination in Old Delhi, this market is no tourist trap, but a bustling and manic business where local housewives buy their day-to-day rice and fresh herbs, children find their favorite mithai (sweets) and working men enjoy lunch and hot chai. Khari Baoli is a wonderful kind of assault on the senses; the eye-catching colors of the piles of cumin, cardamom, aniseed and Indian cinnamon, the secret family recipes from the pickles sellers and gigantic pumice stones and soft almond oil make up for the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
Essentially just a long winding road riddled with countless boutique stores and kiosks, Janpath Market actually represents the best of street shopping. This is exactly how you’ve been imagining shopping in India when still at home; chaotic, cheap and charismatic. The experience is much more enjoyable than the mall, and it is great fun to try ten different sarees and then buy a salwar kameez instead. With jewelry, embroidered cushions and bags, fashion, woven carpets with beautiful patterns and piles of cashmere scarfs as far as the eye can see, there is no excuse to go home without souvenirs for everyone.
A vast ocean of books lying across the length of the pathway, stretching out for over two kilometers, and flooded by hundreds of bibliophiles: this is Daryaganj’s Sunday book market. You can find second hand books on virtually every topic at throwaway prices here. From whodunits and chick lits to exclusive novels and rare first editions, from schoolbooks to encyclopedias; Daryaganj Book Bazaar is paradise for penniless readers and a sensational experience. However, be passionate and courageous while diving into the madhouse of Daryaganj: the market is so crowded, that only a real committed booklover can brave the chaos in the quest for Brontë or Tagore.