Meena bazaar or Mina Bazar was basically meant to entertain women – with mostly women around. In the earlier Mughal Era it was also known as Khus Ruz (Day of Joy) – days which were specially meant for women. These special days of the week were called Meena Bazars. Today, a much more extension with widely spread market is called Meena Bazar.
In Mughal Era, “Meena Bazars” took place during 5 – 8 days of Norouz or New Year festival. Emperor Humayun was the 1st Mughal Emperor to begin these bazaars where items especially meant for women were sold. However, it was during the reign of Akbar and his successors that these markets made their much more elaborate presence.
Original Meena Bazars were basically closed for general public and only the women of Harem , Rajput ladies and wives n ladies of noblemen were allowed to participate in it. These ladies used to make their own stalls and sold everything a women could wear – clothes, dupattas, chiffons, artificial jewelery items, lehngas, traditional silk and cotton royal sarees, royal items even jootis and fine paintings and pottery work made the list of those sold.
The list of royal items included carpets, jajams, shatranjis, tika – namada, shahtus , pashmina shawls, velvet pardas, chiks, embroideries with zari and brocades, silver utensils, exotic jewelery n indigenous ornaments, precious stones, ivory work, fine arms, coloured ganjifas, zafran or saffron, kastrui or musk, spices, fine wood work, furniture, brass and copper ware, costumes, embroided lehngas and a host of other items.
The emperor himself used to see these items and even presented the best works with awards and royal appreciation! Interestingly, in those times only the Emperor, his royal staff, his loved and appreciated ones and Princess were allowed to enter the Meena Bazar! However, the sole purpose of these Meena Bazars was CHARITY as earnings of these markets where given out for city and social development.
In those times this bazaar was called Bazar – I – Musaqqaf (saqqaf meaning roof) or Chatta – Bazar (a roofed market). The main entrance to Meena Bazar is Lahori Gate which leads to the area called Vaulted Arcade or Covered MARKET. Walking through the Lahori gate, one immediately reaches a covered two storied arcade, with octagonal court in the middle from sunlight shines in! This area is called Chatta Manzil.
From here the market is further divided into 2 sections – Eastern and Western with vaulted roofs supported by roof arches at regular intervals. The edges of these roof arches bear honey comb motifs in stucco – universally used in Islamic art – both ornamentally as well as structurally. On both sides of the Meena Bazar there are 32 arched bays serving as shops – as they used to do in Mughal era! The front sides of lower sections are meant for display of selling items and the back for storage and business transaction and the upper sections (some of which are still open) are meant for official transactions.
Today things have changed a little with Meena Bazar being held daily from afternoon till evening. Located near Old Fort, hundreds of people – men, women and children come here to shop for all which can be thought of in the list of clothes and other such finery. Filled with shops including food items and local hotels there is nothing to worry about tasting some of the finest local Delhi cuisines!
Open : 11:00 a.m.
Close : 09:00 p.m. (Mondays closed all round the year)
Entry Fees : Nil
Nearest Metro Station : Chandni Chowk
Ho Ho Bus Route : Not Included
Best Buy : Carpets, Kashmiri Stuff, Artificial Jewellery and Indian Lehngas
Tourist Suggestion : Meena Bazar of Red Fort is best reached by reaching Red Fort. Take a day timeout if you really wish to explore the place or at least 5 hours if you intend to shop. While walking the corridors of Meena Bazar, do not forget to look at the intricate carvings which can still be seen at some of the oldest buildings of this place. Some of them are original carvings of Mughal era! And yes, old your kids hand tightly as a number of people come here for shopping