Located in Old Delhi Chandni Chowki is also called Moonlit Market. It’s one of the busiest and most popular markets of Delhi as well as North India. Originally established by the daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan – Jahan Ara; it was originally designed with several water canals to reflect the moonlight – thus the name Moonlit Market. Established in the 17th century, it is still India’s Wholesale Market.
There are 2 main sections of Chandni Chowk – Lahori Gate to Chowk Kotwali – it is also called Urdu Bazar. The 2nd section is from Chowk Kotwali to Chandni Chowk – the Chandni Chowk is originally referred from this place which had a huge reflecting pool. The 3rd section is from "Chandni Chowk" to Fatehpuri Masjid which was once known as Fatehpuri Bazar.
Night sees it as a throbbing place with immense crowd, highly dense population – almost everyone walking from here to there! Lights fill the entire market as shops are at their best galore in the night and evenings filled with shoppers! Being a part of such a huge crowd which comes from all over the world – is a different experience in itself!
Once visited by merchants from Turkey, China and even Holland; Chandni Chowk or the Moonlit market was designed by Princess Jahan Aara and built by her father Emperor Shah Jahan. In its original design, it was divided into canals to reflect moonlight at night – thus giving it the name – Moonlit Square. Constructed in 17th century, even today it is the biggest wholesale market of India!
Originally the shops of this market were built in half – moon shape – famous for its silver merchants – another good reason to give the term – Chandni or Chandi or Silver. At that time, Mughal Imperial processions used to pass from the middle of the market. Today, there are no Royal processions passing through, yet the charm of the market stands time. Today, one can find relics of Havelis or mansions, Kucha or a zone with houses with owners bearing same occupation and Katra or tradesmen lane – something similar to Guild Housing System.
Basically speaking, there are 4 markets for which Chandni Chowk is famous today. The Cloth Market which is for all the needs of home fabrics. One can also buy ethnic Indian dresses like Salwar Kamiz, Kurtis and other kinds of cloths at reasonable prices. Then there is the Nai Sarak which is known for stationery, decorative materials and books sold at wholesale prices. This lane is also known for bridal Saris and Lehangas which are ethnic wear in Indian Weddings. The next section called Lal Kuan is famous for hardware stuff as well as Kitchen equipments. After this comes the Dariba lane which is known for Silver and Gold Jewellery, again sold at wholesale prices.
In addition to the various sections Chandni Chowk Market has got, it is also famous for local spices. One can find lined out various sweet marts. Some names are really famous like Ghantewala Halwai (Since 1790), Natraj’s Dahi Bhalle( since 1940), Jalebi Wala, Kanwarji Bhagirathmal Dalbijiwallah (since 19th century), Chattwalla (1923)Gianiji Ka Falooda (since 1947), Paranthewali Gali (since 1875) and Annapurna Bhandar. The market for eateries is all set in the evening after 07:00 p.m. IST. Buzzling with lights and people from all walks of life; it is one of the most happening places of Delhi. People who come to Delhi for travelling, do make it a point to visit this unique place. For shopping, it’s the afternoon time which is best and for eating it’s the evening time which runs till midnight!
Many of the Bollywood movies have been shot in Chandni Chowk. The names include Black and White (2008), Chandni Chowk to China (2009), Delhi – 6 (2009) and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gum (2001).
Open : All Days of a week
Walking Tours : Half day walks of the BAZAR are often offered by tour operators.
Chor Bazar : One of the best places to feast on Indian foods.
Red Fort and Jama Masjid : Red Fort and Jama Masjid are the nearest places. One can actually see a portion of their walls from various angles of Chandni Chowk.
Travellers Advice : While on a tour to Chandni Chowk, do make a round of Chor Bazar, Delhi’s largest flea market and walk the alleys of Ballimaaran to see the old and 21st century mix in the lanes of Chandni Chowk!