Bookworm in Delhi: Daryaganj

With every second Indian now beginning to write a book, I often wonder what happened to the bookworms of Delhi.
The people who liked reading, not just writing about their IIT, IIM, Mica – experiences. And when it comes to places in Delhi where you can truly be a bookworm, read, browse, buy and sell is in one place you must visit on a sunday morning… Daryaganj!

Those who want to know what the Twilight is all about, those who want to buy a book recommended by a friend, but don’t have the closet space to keep the number of books  they buy or those who want to get colouring books for their kids to play with’, those are the type of people you will find at Daryaganj – Sunday Morning Street Market.

Located near Asaf Ali Road,  you can come to this market either by Auto, car (there is a car parking) and the closest metro from where you invariably have to take a rickshaw (either Chawri Bazar/ITO) This market is home to a lot of publishing houses and street vendors. These are people who might even have their own book stores, but come to this market on Sundays to possibly sell their old books, books that have been lying in their shops for a while or simply bulk orders for cheap prices.

Here you can find a book from Rs. 10 to Rs. 1000. A mills & boon sits next to a Mein Kamph, while the best of  Jamie Oliver’s cooking can be found next to Picaso’s brush strokes. That’s the beauty of this place. You can find something regular, vintage, unique, rare and simply idiotic or exotic on the same path.

Comics, MBs, Art books, Children books, Harry Potters, Travel guides, MBBS books, Engineering guides, GRE manuals, Coffee table books, Magazines, NatGeo, Lonely planet guides, Self-help books, Weekend guides, New Books , Old Books, Used Books, even stationary, pens and the list goes on. One must visit this market just for a stroll and I guarantee you’ll pick up something.

A special attraction has always been medical and law books and the Guides for Graduation students. You know, the kind a books that one buys a month before the exams and are out of the window an hour after it !

Some Tips:

1. Make sure you carry cash – credit cards don’t really work here.

2. Be careful : not a safe place, pick pocketers may be around.

3. You can and must bargain here, even if the price is already 1/2 of the listed price.

4. If you have the patience, walk through the market, you’ll find a lot of the same books in better condition or at a lower price.

5. EnJoY !!

Khan ka Khaana : Eating out at Khan Market

So you are in Khan Market, on a bright sunny day or late in the evening and wondering – where do you go? 

This market has consistently ranked as one of the costliest high end streets. In fact in 2010, it was rated as the world’s 21st most expensive retail high street by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. It’s the newest hangout market, a place to be seen. With limitless options, Khan Market does not disappoint. Just be prepared to spend the moollah.

 A new restaurant opens and closes every month here and it surely is the survival of the fittest, so the old favorites like Chonas or Big Chill are forever favourites, but these days the choices have truly increased! Let me list out some options-

The Fine Dining Experience: Even casual dining restaurants tend to be fine dining in this market, if you know what I mean!!

Big Chill – Continental, Italian, Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. One of the oldest most famous ones, there are two outlets in Khan Market itself. I feel that the hype is a bit more than it deserves, don’t get me wrong it used to be awesome once upon a time.

Blanco– European, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. Food is good; they also have a happy hour. They have Meats outlet as well, some really good stuff. Every thursday is women’s night with free mojitos… so enjoy ladies!

The Kitchen – Asian, European, Japanese, Thai. Avg Cost/dish INR 350. The food is really good, it’s a small place but worth the wait for the table. Definitely try their Khao Suey and notice the number go up on their Khao Suey meter!

Mamagoto –Asian, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Best known for their wok & curries, it’s a must try. Go for their Meal in a bowl choices, its filling and tastes good!

Chonas -Chinese, European, North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 250. It has been around for 20+ years and is famous for their Happy Hours and only the Happy Hours. Some people have recommended the sizzlers.

Side Wok – Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Great Thai food! The prawn red-curry was excellent, and to top it all they have an online reservation system. How cool is that?

China Fare– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. It’s been the only Chinese restaurant in Khan for some time, and the food is good. But now that they have competition, we’ll just have to wait and watch. I always notice the cat sitting outside the door, see if you can spot her.

Watermelon – Health food, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. It has a relaxed lounge-like atmosphere, segmented into multiple rooms that provide some privacy, I guess?! With a limited menu and average dishes, avoid it if you are particular about your food.

Amici – Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 350.Best known for their oven fresh pizzas, they have some good days and bad days. I went on a bad day!! But have heard really great stuff about the place too.

Mrs Kaurs Crepes and More -American, Fast Food, Desserts, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. Best known for their breakfast menu, they have light meals to enjoy all day too. The portions could be a little larger but that’s gives you an excuse to order some sweet-something.

Ginger Moon– Chinese, Avg Cost/dish INR 400. On my ‘To-Try’ list.

Khan Chacha Kabab Corner– Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Yes, the famous Khan Chacha is now a restaurant on the first floor, but the real fun of the place was the ‘street-food’ so to say atmosphere that is now lost. For the loyalist this remains the only place for kathi rolls.

The QSR (Quick Service Restaurants): by which I mean stand and eat type of places, they are certainly quick and seem to have a lot of fan following too. So don’t get discouraged by the crowds.

Hotdog Factory– American, Fast Food, Avg Cost/dish INR 100.

Chicago Pizza – American, Fast Food, Pizza, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. Their pepperoni slice is nice.

Al Bake– Fast Food, Lebanese, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. an offshoot of the NFC outlets, this one is better than the original.

Salim Kababs – Kababs & Rolls , Avg Cost/dish INR 150. Haven’t tried it yet.

Aap Ki Khatir– Rolls & Mughlai, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. This one is definitely recommended and the rolls are better than some of its counterparts in the same market.

Mrs Kaurs Premium Cookies – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75.

The Kathis – Rolls & North Indian, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

Cocoberry- Desserts, Avg Cost/dish INR 150.

The Cafés and Pubs: for some informal, laze around type of an environment step into one of the many café’s at Khan. Some of these turn into a party zone with loud music and beer as the sun sets.

Latitude – American, Continental, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 450. The latest eatery to set up shop in Khan Market is Latitude 28, a café by The Good Earth, which has its kitchen supervised by chef Ritu Dalmia.

Cafe Turtle – Cafe, Continental, Italian, Others, Avg Cost/dish INR 150. An old haunt for most, it’s great to have some ice-tea and slice of freshly backed cake while you are immersed in the book you are reading.

Sugar N Spice – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 75. Like any other of their outlets, breads and pastries are good.

Market Café – Bakery, Avg Cost/dish INR 200. One of the many specialties of this place is the wi-fi facility. It also has a Sheesha place on its second floor. The one thing you will find about this cafe’ at any given time is that you can actually ‘have a conversation’ without screaming your lungs out like in regular places. Quiet, comfortable and open, its a nice place if you want to really “catch up” with friends.

Route 04– American, Avg Cost/dish INR 300. You’ll find a lot of young kids, music is all American and by the end of the evening everyone is singing. Route 04 run by the owners of Turquoise Cottage and enjoys the same loyalty. Try their burgers, and head there during happy hours, they even have pitchers of LIIT as 1+1, a challenge to finish!

Cafe Oz & Bar – Continental, Avg Cost/dish INR 350. Nice beer & burgers. My fav is the lime & mint spritzer. I love the balance of café and pub that that Cafe Oz has.

Urban Café – Chinese, Continental, North Indian, Italian, Avg Cost/dish INR 600. Drinks are bit on the expensive side and so is food, when you look at the quantity. It has a nice ambience for some club/pub atmosphere with more well traveled diners. (And not just screaming teenagers, that you see in most pubs)

For the lets-stick-to-the-basics diners, there is a McDonalds, Subway, CCD Lounge, Barista Lavazza and the others thrown in for good measure. Hope you enjoy your trip to the mighty Khan and find your calling in one of the three lanes – outer, inner & middle.

Bon appétit!!

Djinns of Feroz Shah Kotla : Discovering Delhi

Write a letter to the Djinns of Feroz Shah Kotla, and your wishes might come true!

Wait, I’m not kidding. Many of you know or have heard of Feroz Shah Kotla as the cricket stadium where Anil Kumble made a record by taking 10 wickets in a single innings, but there is more to this place, then meets the eye!

Located right next to this famous Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium, (off Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg) are the ruins of Feroz Shah Kotla. FerozShah Kotla was the imposing citadel of Ferozabad, the ‘Fifth city’ of Delhi. The great builder and Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) built the city of Ferozabad with its citadel in 1354.

Djinns are said to be found in these ruins. Every Thursday, one can witness people gather in hundreds, to pray and write letters to the djinns hoping for their wishes to come true. So much so, that the ruins are open for anyone to visit free after 2pm on Thursday. (On other days, the entry fee is a meagre Rs. 5)

According to Islam, Allah made djinns out of smokeless fire before he made humans out of clay. Unlike ghosts, djinns are shapeless beings who can marry and have children. Unlike humans, they are formless and can ‘live’ for centuries. But like humans and ghosts — and unlike farishtey (angels) — they can be bad or moody. Legend has it that when Iblis, a djinn, refused to bow before Adam, Allah cast him out as Shaitan (devil), not unlike Lucifer who was rebuked as Satan.

The main attraction of the citadel is the 13 meters high sandstone Ashokan Pillar on a rubble-built three-tiered pyramidal structure. Firoz Shah Tughlaq brought this 27 tonne pillar to Delhi from Topar in Ambala, where the great Emperor Ashoka erected it. The more interesting story is about ‘How they got it here’? Well, its hard to believe, but at one point of time the Outer Ring Road we know today, was the location of river Yamuna . This pillar was in fact brought by the river, in one piece. But unfortunately broke while being positioned above the structure.  Anand over at http://synchroni-cities.blogspot.com/2007/03/minareh-zarreen.html has a great story to tell.

The pillar is similar to the one fixed on the ridge, which was also brought by Firoz Shah. The transportation of both the pillars was done with much care and precautions to avoid any damage. Though made of sandstone, the pillar was so polished that till date it looks as if it is made up of some metal.

There are inscriptions on the Minar, and learned men were brought forward to read them. They could only read the latest ones, in Sanskrit. Some inscription on the pillar are only 250 years old and it is said to mention that Bisal Dev, Chohan, Rai of Sambhal, who came to worship certain idols on the banks of the Sarasvati River, and found this pillar in its present position. But the earliest inscriptions incised on the pillar remained bafflingly unreadable.

What is astounding about this place on a Thursday afternoon or evenings, is that, some people who come here, have been doing so since generations. Their families have come each Thursday and their prayers have been answered. A lady I met said five generations of her family have been coming here and they feel that by doing so, their prayers were herd and their lives are healthy.

There are others sights which one might see here, which can leave you baffled, slightly out of  your comfort zone and sometimes down right creepy! Exorcism – is not just for the movies…  the djinns here, people believe, help get rid of evil spirits.

With the place, almost resembling a scary movie at times, bats on the ceiling, dark dingy caves with lots of incense sticks burning, letters pinned against the walls  and then suddenly a scream. I saw a girl hitting herself with her own hands in this sort of trance like fashion where all I could hear was a faint murmur.I didn’t want to be an uninvited guest, so I left. But as I said before, there are supposed to be good and bad djinns. According to folklore, the bad djinns pray on young women, if young women are left unguarded or especially drying their hair on the roof, it is said that these spirits/djinns tend to haunt them. And the oddest thing, they apparently like sweets! Stories people tell!!

The irony of it all is, as the day ends, and people clear and so do the letters, the cleaning staff of the ruins takes out the letters daily and makes sure the walls are clean for the next day. I just hope the djinns have quick reading skills. Aside from just writing letters, people also stick coins on the walls, this also represents a kind of wish that they make, and hope for it to come true someday!

The main pillar of the chief of djinns called Laat wale baba, (Lat is the Hindi word for pillar) is at the centre of a practice of writing letters to djinns who are supposed to reside here. It seems that the practice of writing to the djinns starts in the late 1970s, when a fakir named Laddoo Shah came and started living in these ruins at the end of the Emergency of 1975-77, a year after the demolitions at the nearby Turkman Gate locality, which had once been part of Firozabad.

Aside from the pillar, there is actually a functioning mosque within the grounds. This is said to be one of the largest mosques of the Tughlaq period. I met the Imam there, and asked him the one question I had since I entered this place, ‘Has anyone really seen a djinn?’.  He to my surprise said he had! One day while he was reading the namaz, he saw a couple of people sitting behind and reading it with him. A while later when he looked back he saw that one person sitting in front had gone. He asked the other person who was sitting next to him, where the man went, and to the Imam’s surprise the answer he got was that ‘no one sitting there at all’! The Imam said that good djinns are those who are close to God and want to be closer, hence they live in or around areas where there are mosques.

Other than the djinns, bats, pillars and mosque, there is also a step well or baoli. Located in the centre of the garden, this is a circular baoli with a large underground drain for the water. Though one is not allowed to enter this now (most of these places in the city are chained, due to “accidental” deaths meaning, people accidentally wanting to end their lives! The area where the ruins exist is massive.

The one thing you have to love about old world architecture are the rocks; the way it was constructed, the expanse of the entire location is a visual delight. Even though its in ruins, try and take some time out to see something a little different next to the cricket stadium everyone loves, you might be surprised to see the other side !

(c) Photographs by Ritika Sabharwal


Humayun’s Tomb: New Delhi

“Spectacular!” that’s what visiting US President Barack Obama said about the Humayun’s Tomb on his recent visit to India.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the grandeur and magnificence of the monument. This beautiful red-stone monument in Nizamuddin (South Delhi), built over 450 years ago is being looked after thanks to the major renovation exercise taken up by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Archaeological Survey of India.

Humayun ka Maqbara or Humayun’s Tomb is one of the must see architectural sites in Delhi, especially since it was the inspiration for one of the Seven Wonders of the world – the Taj Mahal.

This tomb has also been a much loved backdrop of many film-makers in Bollywood. In Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Abhishek takes Preity to Humayun’s Tomb and tells her that since he didn’t have enough money to take her to see Taj Mahal, he brought her to see the tomb. A romantic song for the Kareena-Saif starrer Kurbaan was shot here. And even  Aamir Khan’s character in Fanaa takes Kajol and her friends on a Dilli darshan, and one of the places they visit is Humayun’s Tomb.

The entire complex is larger than what I had imagined; the first building one observes is the Isa Khan’s Tomb. This tomb is situated just outside the Humayun’s tomb. It was built in the honor of Isa Khan, a brave and valiant noble under Sher Shah, the Afghan ruler who had overthrown Humayun. It was built in 1547, and until the early 20th century, an entire village had been settled in the enclosure.

The actual Humayn’s tomb was commissioned a year before his death by his Persian wife Haji Begam and her son Akbar. The tomb was constructed from 1562-1572 by Mirak Mirza Ghiyuath a renowned Persian architect. He had previously designed buildings in Herat (now northwest Afghanistan), Bukhara (now Uzbekistan).

The muhgals built many architectural marvels in their times. Everyone from the Mughal Empire’s family tree left a bit of themselves in these buildings. It started with Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, who founded the Mughal Empire in Indiain 1494. In 1530, Babur’s eldest son Humayun succeeded him as the king. After his death the fourteen-year-old Akbar, under the care of Bairam Khan, took charge. Akbar died in A.D. 1605 and was succeeded by his son Jahangir. Jahangir, passed the expanding empire to his son Shah Jahan in 1627. Aurungzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan and took over in 1658. Aurungzeb’s three sons disputed over succession, and the Mughal empire crumbled, just as the Europeans entered the subcontinent.

Back to Humayn’s tomb. The plan of the building is simply brilliant and very mathematical, with symmetrical ground plan and chambers that are sure to wow you. Although the architecture of the tomb was designed by the Persian architect, one can observe the distinctly Indian aspects of the tomb, like the Hindu chattris, that surround the central dome. It follows the Indo-Islamic tradition that was already emerging at the time.

The beautifully carved stone screens are not only artistic but only practical for the ventilation and light. Another prominent features is the center of a garden in the classical Mughal char bagh (four gardens) pattern. High wall surrounds the garden on three sides, the fourth side being bounded by what was once the bank of the river Jamna (Yamuna), which has since been diverted.

We saw some bats having a slumber party in one of the rooms that was being restored. The complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is still underway.

The recent attention from movies and foreign dignitaries visiting the tomb has helped increase the footfall among local as well as foreign tourists. We visited the tomb on a saturday and were surprised to see a large number of school Children on a field trip.

It is easy to get here, and if you are an avid photographer the visit will be well worth the effort. It is located on Mathura Road, near the Lodi Road crossing. No one can miss the Nila-Gumbad or the blue dome monument at this crossing. Also, an interesting story about the Nila-Gumbad is that, the architect who built the Humayun’s Tomb is buried underneath.

The monument is open for public all days, with parking available for busses, taxis and private vehicles. One has to buy a ticket for INR 10 for citizens and INR 250 for Foreigners.

(C) Photographs by Ritika Sabharwal

The Times They Are a-Changin’ : My Delhi

I’m a Delhi’ite. I was born here and have lived/visited Delhi every year of my life. I relate to every word of the Delhi 6 song “Yeh dilli hai mere yaar, Bas ishq mohabbat pyaar” .

At different times in my life Delhi meant different things to me. For most of my schooling years, it was a place for summer vacation at my grandparents place. My memories are of enjoyable times spent with my cousins, maybe because there was no school to go to, or maybe it was the ‘dadi ka laad aur pyar’.  The majority of my time was spent between Karol Bagh & Green Park and occasional drives to India Gate for ice-cream. That was the Delhi I knew and loved.
Delhi was also part of my schooling as I did my 7th grade from here. Delhi to me was about living in Delhi Cantt, going to school in an Army 3-ton, swimming at the club for recreation and Gopinath Bazar for samosas in the evenings, usually post the swimming!  My world was limited to the extremely green, uncrowded part of Delhi. What is not to love about all that?

My next stint in Delhi was the three years spent in DU-South Campus. This was the time that I really explored Delhi, by which I basically mean movie halls, shopping centres and eating joints. The expanse of which was narrowed down to Sarojni Nagar, CP, Janpath, Shanti Nikatan, Chanakya Puri and Priyas. These were the kind of places we, as students could afford on a limited budget. Our most important asset was the DTC bus pass as we hopped on and off buses whenever we pleased.

My first job also happened to be in Delhi too. A Sales job teaches you many things, one of which is going to places you’d have never even heard of. In the 2 years of this job, I travelled mainly in my car. One thing is certain, I learnt more about Delhi driving myself than I would have ever otherwise sitting comfortably in a chauffer driven car (as most Delhi-ites do). For me, all the places were associated with companies; Nehru Place is where IFCI, Bengali Market was next to FICCI and so on. Places I most frequented were Sohna road, Okhla Industrial Area, and the Naraina Industrial belt along with the others.

Having said all that, I recently moved back to Delhi. In the last few months that I have been here I have realized that there is a lot of Delhi left for me to explore. I still have to visit the Lotus temple, Akshardham, North Campus, Humayun’s Tomb, Doll Museum, and Gandhi Smriti. The food tasting at Nizamuddin, Bikaner House and Andhra Bhawan are still left. To be a part of the cultural scene is only a dream… especially seeing a play at Kamani or Siri Fort and also a definite look-see at the recently opened Kingdom of Dreams at Gurgaon. That’s just a small list right now… 

So here is my New Year’s resolution: Exploring Delhi!

Delhi’s Wedding Shopping Bonanza – Part II

If the heat, rain, sweat and absolutely no bargaining skills is killing you – do not fret there are some great air-conditioned stores to choose from. They have more or less similar things and it’s a matter of your choice and luck that will change the ‘how-great-is-this?’ rating for these.

Here is a look at some specific Retail Stores


Frontier Bazar and CTC Plaza are some of the top choices. Meena Bazar , Gujralsons , Chhabara 555, Heritage Handloom Emporium and Bombay Selections are great stops for suits, sari and dress materials.

Most of these have multiple outlets in Karol Bagh, Chandni chowk, Rajouri Garden, Lajpat Nagar, South Extension and basically all over Delhi.

If you are the get-in-buy-and-get-out types you are guaranteed to be irritated with these shops. Well! Shopping for wedding in general is taxing for you, these ‘aaoji-bethoji’ (come-sit) will make you want to scream. But nonetheless this has to be done. Window Shopping or like my mom calls it ‘nain-tripti’ (pleasure for eyes) is an essential part of wedding shopping, especially if one is going to spend a considerably large sum of money on these purchases.

Some women can spend hours on end just looking at the variety in a store like Frontier. With multiple-floors of garments there is never a ‘that’s-it !!!’ for these ladies. The salesmen here are also very enthusiastic and will charm their way into making a sale. If you like they will drape the saree or lehnga with so you know how it will look, give you tones of options to play with color, and you can purchase a made-to-order, absolutely unique wardrobe here.

I believe that a bride’s trousseau is like her treasure chest, it should have a sample of the awesome things India has to offer. It is incomplete without silk sari. Nalli has a great collection of the Kanjeevaram, Kota silk, Mysore silk and other specialties of the South. Glass bangles look very festive, a great place to buy them other than Charminar (since you’ll have to go to Hyderabad for that) is Hanuman Temple in CP. It is very close to Nalli Silk Sarees.

The wedding season brings with it ‘Sales’ do make use of them. In fact, Wedding has become such a big industry that a specialty mall by the name of ‘Wedding Souk’ in Pitampura Delhi has recently opened, but I haven’t ventured to that part of town so thats all the information I have. Do let me know if there is something exciting you know about?

If you are looking for really high-end designer wear, head towards MG Road, Santushti Complex or Hauzkhasvillage to get your fill of Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul or Ogaan Or just step into DLF Emporio

Delhi, the capital city of India, is a place of great contrasts and convolutions. The many sights and sounds of Delhi make it easy to spend days exploring the old bazzars, the high-end malls and designer stores. I have had some fun times, and hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.

Happy Shopping!

Delhi’s Wedding Shopping Bonanza – Part I

Love or Arranged, Marriages will be absolutely no fun without the wedding shopping. Or so I believe! Weddings give not only the bride and groom the freedom to splurge freely, but also an occasion for the invitees to shop for that special outfit.

As we all know, Punjabi weddings go over the edge sometimes, most of them carry on for a couple of days and there are about half a dozen functions the bride needs to dress-up for. So most families start a couple of months in advance to stock up on the clothes, shoes and accessories. A Good Idea!

If you are doing you shopping in Delhi, I’ve put together some of the best stores and shopping areas out of my experience.

I want to give you fair warning that Wedding shopping can go completely out of hand and you may end up buying things because it is ‘so pretty’ or ‘the price is just right’. The best way to avoid that is to PLAN. Have a budget, make lists, set the number of sarees, bags, suits, shoes (well! Not shoes) you need to buy. When you are buying something ask your self – Do I Like it or Love it?And is this the best thing I have seen anywhere or the best thing in this shop? And always ask – Where all will I wear it?

Now that you are ready with your Plan, lets go shopping!

First stop – Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk

Karol Bagh & Chandini Chowk are the most famous and well-explored shopping hubs. These places are so famous that movies and books like Zoya factor & Pyar ke side effects have made reference to them. And not in vain, I may add. You will get your traditional to designer copies here and at comparatively fewer moolahs too. You will however, need to be familiar with the gallis-gochas and certainly need to be great at bargaining.

Chandni Chowk is one of the largest wholesale market of Asia. Earlier it was almost impossible to reach there but since the arrival of Metro service from CP to CC, it has become more accessible. Put on your walking shoes and be ready for narrow lanes and lots of people. I can safely say that, I love the Delhi Metro – they brought in the metro where cars couldn’t go before.

Chawdi bazaar is a great place to get your wedding cards printed. Near the paranthey walli gali, you’ll find the shops with ribbons, wrapping paper, baskets and boxes. These come in handy when the gifts for relatives and so-and–so need to be packed. For some great quality dry-fruit visit the spice market.

Now coming to the main event, the clothes. Both CC and KB have hundreds of small no name shops stocking up the bling goodies. The price range to suit any budget, but one must have a good eye for the material and the workmanship, or else you’ll be taken for a ride. Ask for designer rip-offs of the spring or winter collection, you’ll definitely find what you are looking for.

One can certainly see a shift to latest malls and other shopping destinations, in most Indian metros. But these small gallis and tiny nooks & corners have a charm of their own. There is an excitement about going there. It’s like watching a real good thriller after seeing a couple of boring chick flicks.

A little off topic, but while you are there, take a tour of the neighborhood on a cycle rickshaw down the traffic-choked Chandni Chowk. This place is — if not all of India’s , but certainly a large part of it — main shopping thoroughfare, lined with shops selling drippingly sweet and chats, lurid textiles, perfumes and jewelry and also has an anomalous branch of McDonald’s thrown in for good measure.

As you can see, I can go on and on about Chandini-Chowk, but I shall stop here. I still have a couple of great stores to tell you guys about so watch out for Part 2!

Shopping in Delhi – GK1

GK’s famous M block market is an elite shopper’s paradise, not for the clothes or the accessories but more for unique ‘fashion-parade’ by people who wander around in the market.

fashtry

Stores in GK range from the usual branded shops of Levis, W, UCB, Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Esprit, L’ Affaire and so on, but what makes this market universal for shopping is the range & variety one gets in the stores and outside them (in small concaves). These smaller setups have pretty decent stuff & definitely worth a look. For instance you can get sunglasses from the branded stores for as much as Rs. 20,000 and cheap knock offs (may I add, pretty good cheap knock offs) for anywhere around 200 bucks at the outside stall.

While Sarojini is great for bargains, Khan Market for the foreigner-type of-mal, M Block has the best of both. Luxury goods, branded clothes, Indian handcrafted paper products (Rio Grande) and shoes (Finesse) and so on. Along with the shopping, you can have a quick bite at – Café Coffee Day, Barista or Costa Coffee. With so much choice, there’s no question why M block is a hot favourite among the youth, the socialites and also the drivers, who can’t but resist a pan from the famous Prince Paan Shop which has been there for decades. 

Evening brings with it the hip-and-happening crowd, as night clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants come alive. While housing the popular eating joints like Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, it also has China Garden, Spins & We2.

The only thing, one must remember is that parking can be a handful. Though there are ample mini parking lots, all around M block, but one must be prepared to not find a spot if you come in rush hour. Recommended option is a chauffeur driven, whom you can call your driver on the cell to meet you, once you are done.
 

GK1 – N Block Market

While there is tons in M block market, its alphabetical counterpart N Block houses some of the quiet glamour that is missing in M Block. 

fab

One dominating feature in this market is the FabIndia chain. You can have a go at the traditional fare, with FabIndia which house clothes, accessories, toiletries, furnishings – you name it and its there – that too on either side of the road. If FabIndia doesn’t suffice, Cottons is an alternative.
Once you have had a handful of ethnic shopping, you can go in for designer wear with Ravi Bajaj’s who in fact owns an eatery here too. The Shoe Shop, Hidesign, Next, Apartment 9, Forest Essentials, Urban Shore London are some other good haunts.
Must visit Navrattan Jeweller for exquisite Jewellery.

And if shopping isn’t all that you are looking for, there are book stores cum cafés and tons of pubs and restaurants to satiate that hunger. You can head into Café Turtle for a cup of coffee and a time out to read books, or try the Breads & More, for bakery delights. Or else, there is Kasbah for some Italian, while Urban Pind and Shalom are the hot spots for the partying kinds.

Your trip to Delhi, isn’t complete without at least a stop-by at one of the GK markets. By-the-way there is GK-2 too… more on that later. Try this one till then.

Unique Shopping Destinations within Delhi

Shopping in Delhi

78% of all men/women when asked about his/her ideal way to spend their leisure time would say Shopping.

It a way to de-stress for some, for others it’s the reason why they earn. Purchasing something new, innovative, colorful, antique basically anything interesting gives most of us shoppers a high.

But for the other 22% shopping can be tiresome & boring. How many malls can one see & how many shoes can one try ?

The distinct feature of Delhi markets is that every shopping hub has its own ambience and specialty. Here are a few of my recommendations for people who don’t want to go to the same old boring branded shops.

Dilli Haat

delhi haat

Situated in the heart of Delhi, Dilli Haat is an upgraded version of the traditional weekly market, offering a delightful assortment of craft, food and cultural activities.

The handicraft stalls are allotted on a rotational basis to craftsmen from all corners of India, usually for fifteen days. This ensures a kaleidoscopic view of the richness and diversity of Indian handicrafts and artifacts. One gets to appreciate the hard work & skill that goes into creating one-of-a-kind handicrafts while watching the live demonstrations by craftsmen.

Dilli Haat is a joint collaboration between the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department. The basic idea of setting up this crafts bazaar was to promote the Indian handicrafts industry and Indian cuisine. Spread across 6 acres of land, Dilli Haat is situated on Sri Aurobindo Marg, opposite the INA market.

There is an entrance fee to go in, but it is well worth spendingthe Rs. 20,  just to see the imaginative landscaping, creative planning, see the artists, and eat the regional food, even if shopping is not on your mind.

Santushti Shopping Arcade

The Air Force Wives association runs this small shopping complex, which is a favorite haunt of diplomats’ wives, located opposite the Ashoka Hotel. More than a dozen boutiques are ringed around a small garden. This isn’t the best spot for bargains, but it is the perfect place to find high fashion Indian clothing.

There is a handbag shop here that has an annual one-day sale when everything in the shop is on a discount. I strongly recommend going to the sale and get there soon because you know how women get around the ‘Sale Sign’.

Must have a ‘spot of tea’ at the popular Basil & Thyme restaurant.

Pragati Maidan

Pragati Maidan

Pragati Maidan hosts a variety of exhibitions, trade shows and trade fairs each year. Functional since 1972, Pragati maidan is a premier event venue in India. It has a dozen indoor halls and almost 10,000 sq. m. of open display space that is spread across 61,290 sqm. Facilities here include Medical aid, ATM’s, Restaurants & parking.

India International Trade Fair & the New Delhi Auto Expo are the well known events, but something or the other is always happening here.

Crafts Museum

There is plenty to see near Pragati Maidan:

  • Crafts Museum which is open from 10am-5pm daily, except Monday. Pick up some souvenirs from Crafts Museum Shop.
  • Dolls Museum – A unique museum of Dolls is located near the ITO crossing on the Bahadur Shah Jafar Marg. These dolls are collected from different parts of India as well as from other countries of the world. Pick up some children books from Children Book Trust of India in the same building.
  • National Science Centre
  • Rajpath and India Gate

Sundernagar Market

If you are a jewelry buff, Sundernagar should be on your Top 10 things to go to. A choice selection of Antiques and silver trinkets, especially of silver jewelry from Ladakh, semi- precious stones, some textiles, brass, copper and silver artifacts are available here.

The Sundarnagar market also has shops selling India’s finest tea and a tea tasting session at one of these shops should be on the top of your itinerary.

Shopping is always on top of the itinerary for me, especially when visiting Delhi. There is whole hoopla of places to go for hard-core shopping. However, this list is for those looking for something more unique, something different.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Shopping @ South Delhi

cloth

I once saw a fuchsia pink ambassador (India’s oldest and most iconic car), driven by a Blonde European Lady, outside South Extension Market, with the back seat filled with Nalli & Benetton shopping bags: an image that forever will make me smile.

Well! Delhi is all about contradictions – unusual things usually happen here. The shopping is no different.

Take Khan Market for instance. It gives an impression of a local market, 2-3 lanes with a couple of big showrooms, double story buildings with a parking lot in the centre & a few nice restaurants.

But did you know that Khan Market is the most expensive retail destination?!?  In its annual report on global retail rents, the worldwide real estate consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield put India at 16th position & Khan Market moved up eight places from its 24th position last year. Believe it or not, the market ranks above some of the fancied elite shopping destinations, such as Moscow, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam and Toronto.

If you’re in South Delhi the list of places to shop is endless including, but to limited to, Khan Market, DefCol, Southx, Lajpat Nagar & Hauz Khas Village…this is just the start. There is also New Friends Colony, Ashram, Munirka, Ansals Plaza, GK, Lodi Market, Green Park and Nehru Place, and some place even I don’t know about.

Khan Market

Khan Market

Khan Market is popular with the diplomatic community. It houses stores like Benetton, Tag Heuer, Levis, Woodland, Nike and also specialty boutiques like Anokhi, Ogaan, Bizarre, FabIndia and some-such.

Apart from these one will find excellent book shops, opticians, grocers, photographers, tailors, and household furnishing stores. Across the other side of the road there are shops that mainly specialize in Lamps, there is also Khadi & Hyde Out (for Shoes). Must visit Cafe Turtle, Big Chill & Khan Chacha Rolls whenever you are there.

Defense Colony
There are two DefCol markets; one is more famous for the restaurants and the other for the designer boutiques under the flyover.  Since my office was in A block, I know the one with the restaurant like the back of my hand. There is not much to shop here, except a nice Punjabi T’shirt shop. It’s mainly a place to indulge yourself. My recommendations- Appam & stew @ Swagat, Sizzlers @ Moet’s, Iddli @Sagar, Pizza @ Little Italy, chana-kulcha and onion chaori @ Nathus. Try the ‘Harry-Shanti’ saloon for a haircut.

South Ex
On both sides of the ring road when one finds colorful displays & neon lights, with huge departmental stores like Ebony, Big Jos, Hopps – one can be sure to have reached South Extension.

Southx is an up-market shopping area where quality garments and footwear sell like hot potatoes. The annual sales here are a much-awaited feature. Remember- most shops are closed on Mondays.It’s basically a hangout for the-so-called- hip-n-happening-college-crowd. Must do’s here include a peek at the jewelry shops & eating bhelpuri at the corner shop in Southx-Part 1.

Lajpat Nagar
Delhi is a genuine paradise for shoppers, where else can one buy cheap-export-rejected-designer-branded-goodies. If that caught your attention, Lajpath Nagar Market is the place for you. I once bought home-décor table runners with potterybarn’s label for 100 bucks a piece (beat that!).
But that’s not all , you get good photo-framing options, accessories, home tit-bits and running cloth material. It has the largest ladies suit market in Asia. Of course one has to bargain, but the prices are very reasonable anyway. One can never get tired of just looking around when here.

Hauz Khas Village
The haunt of the nouveau riche, HKV offers a combination of ethnic chic and designer lebels, Indian and international. A few years ago, an association called Dastakar – set up a showroom in the village. Over time, a village had developed around the medieval college and the tomb of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Now the village has a plethora of boutiques and art galleries which coexist with hatched roof buildings and men with hookahs on charpoys. Far from being a deterrent, the “rural” ambience is a positive attraction.

Bridal Shopping in Delhi … coming soon!!