Hi. I am back again to finish our unfinished job of exploring Delhi through the common man’s eyes or to be more precise common woman’s eyes… In our previous part we had taken a look at the five trendy, happening places of Delhi. This time we are going shopping for mementoes for your dear ones back home- of something which is unique to Delhi or even India. Just like the city, which is a canvas of myriad hues, it also offers multi varieties in products or crafts for shopping- Be it malls with top brand retail showrooms and classy designer wears from the top Indian designers, the typical shopping paradise that a Delhite can’t do without, be it wedding or festivals or signature items. So here I would like to mention the top five signature shopping or retail units for their uniqueness.
Now you will obviously be looking for goodies that are unique to Delhi. Brands, Dresses, accessories- you will find everywhere, but if you would like to take a piece of Delhi with you then these are my recommendations:-
Chandni chowk in old Delhi comes to my mind the foremost as it is three centuries old and you get the feel of the old world charm, though not an exact replica, that Delhi was, the moment you set foot there. Development throughout the ages has touched Chandni Chowk too, but still it has retained the magic and tradition of those times. The narrow bye lanes and streets, crowded market place, old shops! All these will remind you of the Arabian markets that they usually portray in Hollywood movies. Even the wares are reminiscence of a tradition that is century’s old- Antique silver jewelry from the Dariba Kalan. Silver wares of Kinari bazaar, intricate Zari work, bangles, laces, natural perfumes or itras, spices. Dates dry fruits, you just name it. Other than these you can have clothes – a wide variety of fabrics with rich hues- Indian hues of copper sulphate blues, fuchsias, turquoise green, magenta, and silks and chiffons and crepes, at bargain prices. The more the quantity of your purchases, the bigger is the discount. The people here usually trousseau shop from this place. After a bout of extensive shopping, you can always try the food over there. It boasts of some awesome eateries. The parathas (bread) of Parathe wali gali is famous all over. The street food isn’t bad either or to tell truthfully is not at all bad.
Reaching there isn’t a problem there. The metro rail takes you there directly. So does it have a good connectivity by buses. Taking your own private vehicle may prove a slight difficulty as the place is crowded and it might be difficult to park your vehicle.
I have already mentioned Jan Path in the passing in my previous article on the city. Situated just at the periphery of Connaught Place, in one of the radial roads, it is a famed market, very much frequented by both the young crowd and the tourists because of its wide variety and great bargains. It is famous for its affordable mementoes of curios, handicrafts , junk jewelry etc, It is also famous for its trendy wears for the college going crowd as the garments available are in keeping in tune with the latest trends. The Rajasthani paintings, and dresses and other handicrafts are both light on the purse and on the luggage. If you are not a brand obsessed person, then I would certainly recommend this place to shop. Being near the hot spot CP there is no dearth of restaurants n fast food joints to grab a bite. Connectivity couldn’t be better with the metro and bus stops nearby.
Now this is one place which is very much my favorite. It offers handicrafts from all over the states of India at reasonable rates. The craftsmanship is exquisite and the goods irresistible- be it dresses, décor items, bangles or even the traditional wood and earthen toys. Mostly they have special festival weeks to promote a state, by turns, be it their handicraft products, art or even food. The complex also houses all the food courts of the different State to offer mouthwatering dishes unique to the states. One whole day can be easily spent in the premises or if you want to cover more, then two good markets are nearby- Sarojini Nagar market and the Lajpat nagar market. You can try body art, temporary tattoos, mehendi and bangles. It will give you the feeling of visiting a simple village market. The dresses though are influenced by local styles and made from indigenous fabrics and materials and are trendy and stylish with understated elegance. In fact Delhi Haat symbolizes understated elegance even in its pro rural environs. But don’t worry. You have all the modern amenities to help you shop like ATMs, eateries, toilets, metro etc. in or near the premises.
Each state of India has their unique fabric or designing and embroidery, unique to the particular state. It might be the material, as some places are famous for their silks example the rich Kanchipurams of South or Benarsi Silk. While some states maybe famous for the prints and patterns e.g. the tie and dye prints, block prints of Rajasthan and Gujarat. While other has intricate woven pattern or embroidery as in the colorful phulkari work of Punjab, while some have unique style of dressing. The Manipuri wedding dresses. The Mekhela chador of Assam. The pashminas from Kashmir. Kullu shawls of Himachal and many more. So if you are not ready to compromise on the quality and would like to go for the authentic material and again if price is not a problem, then the best place are the emporiums of Delhi, located near Connaught place. All the state emporiums are located in one single block and hence you can take your time. Loiter around and take your time deciding on which treasure to zero in, for treasures they are.
And now next comes my odd choice but still unique, Tihar Haat. Yes the retail shop of the famous Tihar Jail. I won’t say notorious, in spite of it being a prison, the largest in the world in fact, because of the radical changes and programs that have been enforced in a bid to reform and rehabilitate the inmates. It’s truly a noble concept. And Tihar Haat is the retail unit of the goods manufactured or prepared by the inmates following their training as a part of their reform and rehabilitation program. You will find beautiful vases and paintings, handmade by the inmates, pickles, papads, biscuits, and yes, even furniture and clothing. It’s a total Ashram or Village in there. Shopping there is not only a unique experience but also a contribution to the society as you will be uplifting the moral of the unfortunate ones. Though you can visit their shop in Jail Road near Tilak Nagar Metro Station, during office working hours, but if you would like to tour their factory or have a look at the entire range then, prior intimation will be a better option…
After those shopping ideas, If you would still like to visit some malls just to have a feel or even have a look at Modern and contemporary fashion in India , then I have three best Malls for you. Though there are many spread all over the city, but the best for you are:-
Select City Walk– In Saket, South Delhi is the best in Delhi at the moment. Spread over a huge area, its glitz and glamour all throughout. Great brands, designer wear, anything… Just name it.
Ambience Mall in Gurgaon- Another vast and beautiful Mall. Some of the best night clubs and pubs are located here. The crowed that you see over here will make you go va va voom.
The Great India Palace- Need I say more? The name says it all.
Well that was shopping for you and now let me bring before you the activities that you might try out when here. Very much Delhi, Very much Indian. But before that let me touch on something that is universal to all and that is driving or long drives. Drives usually carried out during the evenings or late nights, to have a better light and ambience effect maybe, but here in Delhi we also have places where you can drive through even in the day time. So I would like to showcase five driveways or routes just for you.
Noida Toll bridge.
The drive from Noida towards Delhi needs you to cross the river Yamuna on whose banks Delhi is situated. Crossing the river through the toll bridge in the evening time is like witnessing magic. The multiple blinking lights of the city reflecting on the water and with the wind blowing on your face, as you drive through makes you feel like a teenager out on a romantic date for the first time. Perfect. Once you cross the bridge you can turn right and again cross the river at Nizaamuddin, Yamuna is still alluring, but not wholly the same effect as in the toll bridge. Then driving straight in front of the beautifully lighted Akshardham Mandir, take a right turn to climb up the flyover and come back towards the Mandir again. The view from high up is simply beautiful and should not be missed at all.
Chanakya puri is the most beautifully planned area in whole of Delhi. Wide neat roads lined with tress with rows of beautiful houses with trimmed lawns. Picture of prosperity , its best to take a leisurely drive around the vast area during early morning or afternoon, aimlessly, just soaking in the pretty sights. The embassies are located here and the architecture of each try to outdo the other .Try the Shanti Path and Raj path, They are the best of the lot.
Ridge road , Shamnath marg and Raj Niwas
The ridge road is slightly on a higher elevation and the wooded road with few bends will remind you of some quaint hill station and transport you faraway immediately from the buzz of Delhi. A few shots of the song Chor Bazaari from Love AAj kal was shot here. Drive onto the Shaamnath marg- again mansions and neat roads, leading to the Raj Niwas or the Governor’s House in Raj Niwas marg and from there now you can proceed for refreshments and people-watching to Kamla Nagar and Delhi University campus. You will find one of the finest looking and trendiest crowd here. Best time to drive in, is afternoon.
The Ring road
Just as Indian railways is supposed to be the arterial life blood of the common man of India, so is the Ring Road which forms a full circle of Delhi, an arterial link for the people of Delhi. If you can brave a drive of around three hours in a busy road which are also rough at patches, you will be suitably rewarded with glimpses of the real Delhi , as it passes through the suburbs, industrial areas as well as the buzz and hub of modern Delhi. Here you will glimpse both the Opulence as well as not so prosperous parts of the city, but still an enriching experience.
Dhaula Kuan and Airport stretch.
Well, this one can be enjoyed when after some great moments here , it’s time to return to your home. A vacation well spent – and on these last few moments here, you can enjoy a splendid view as you drive from the Dhaula Kuan Flyover to the Airport over its express way. As you ascend in the expressway , if you are lucky, in a sharp contrast to your ascent , you might come upon an Aeroplane descending for a landing, and the view of the relative contrast is simply splendid. The one last view of the city from the expressway will leave you reminiscing those moments over and over again.
Those were the driveways that you might enjoy, ones which I have enjoyed many times myself. And in my next I will wind up my series with some activities and Places nearby Delhi that you can try out. Till then enjoy and have a nice time.
note: Incase you have missed out the first part of the series, read it HERE