Chandni Chowk


Chandni Chowk

This was Delhi's former imperial avenue, where the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan rode at the head of his lavish cavalcade. That scene is hard to picture today, as bullock carts, bicycles, shuttle buses (cars are technically banned), freight carts, cows, auto-rickshaws, horse-drawn tongas (two-wheeled carts), and pedestrians create a constant, breathtaking bazaar. It runs from the Red Fort into the walled city, functioning as a major, if congested, artery. As in the days of the Mughals, commerce is everywhere: astrologers set up their charts on the pavement; shoemakers squat and repair sandals; sidewalk photographers with old box cameras take pictures for a small fee; medicine booths conceal doctors attending to patients; and oversize teeth grin from the windows of dentists' offices. Peer through a portico, and you might see men getting shaved, silver being hammered into paper-thin edible sheets, or any other conceivable form of commerce. While the scenes may seem archaic, the shopping is exactly where it's supposed to be so make sure you carry cash (safely tucked about your person). The stores in tinsel-filled Kinari Bazaar and Dariba Kalan, with its jewelry and gemstones, may make you want to empty your wallet. Also, lining just about every alley are the famous halwais, a group of sweets-makers. Everything from staples such as fried orange jalebis to even more exotic confections is sold. Vendors can be found Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm at Dariba Kalan.


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