One of the oldest and busiest shopping areas in New Delhi, Chandni Chowk has a history that dates back to the 17th century when it was initiated under the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It surrounds the Red Fort, just a short distance from the Old Delhi Railway Station, and extends from the Lahori Gate all the way to Fatehpuri Masjid.
While the market originally covered just the central square of Johri Bazaar, today it has expanded over what were once separate markets, the Urdu Bazaar and the Fatehpuri Bazaar. Chandni Chowk is often touted as the largest wholesale market in Asia, selling almost every imaginable item, but is particularly popular as a wedding shopping destination for designer saris, gold jewellery and decorative items. It is divided into smaller markets which sprawl into one another and are each renowned for a particular product. The Fatehpuri Market is known for its textiles and supplies to clothing manufacturers across the city, while Dariba Kalan is famed for its silver and gold jewellery, including one-of-a-kind hand-crafted pieces, as well as rare attar perfume. Ballimaran is a shoeshopper’s heaven, with a huge variety of both contemporary and traditional jooti leather shoes available, while the Kinari Bazaar has an extensive range of brocade and borders on offer. The Moti Bazaar is famed for its shawls made from all kinds of fabrics, together with high-quality pearl necklaces, and the Meena Bazaar boasts traditional Muslim attire and accessories. Chandni Chowk is a melting pot of religions and cultures, with a Jain Mandir, a Christian Church, an Islamic Masjid and a Sikh Gurudwara all located within its bounds, together with Delhi’s Town Hall and street food stalls from across India.
Chandni Chowk can be accessed along the Yellow Line of New Delhi’s subway, with metro stations at both Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk. It’s also within easy walking distance of the Old Delhi Railway Station to the north and New Delhi Railway Station to the west.
It was Shah Jahan’s daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum, who designed and established a market here in 1650, originating with around 1,500 shops and divided by canals which reflected the moonlight. Imperial Mughal processions once passed through Chandni Chowk’s streets, including the Delhi Durbar of 1903 and 1911 to mark the new Emperor’s succession.