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A Guide to New Delhi Shopping

1) Chandni Chowk

A visit to Chandni Chowk can be an exhausting but colorful experience. Merchants from China, Turkey and Holland used to come to trade here centuries ago, when Chandni Chowk was one of the busiest bazaars in the city. Lanes, too narrow for cars to negotiate, are lined with little stalls overflowing with goods such as shawls, silks, perfumes, brassware, colored glass, furniture, beads and bangles. The bylanes specialize in their own peculiar products and exist as separate bazaars within the huge marketplace. In the Katra Neel lane, for example, fabrics such as satin, crepe, silk, cotton and muslin are sold by tradesmen who have lived here for generations. The Bhagirath Palace area is one of Asia's largest markets in electrical goods. Locals also refer to it as the Bangle-Seller's Palace. The Kinari Bazaar nearby specializes in the rich silver and gold embroidery work known as zardosi. The richly-embroidered fabrics can be used to make gowns, skirts, blouses, bags and even shoes.

2) Connaught Place

Built in 1931 and named after the Duke of Connaught, this complex is made up of three concentric circles of colonnaded arcades. A busy commercial hub, it is also a wonderful place to shop. The most popular of the radial roads leading off from Connaught Place is Janpath, a treasure trove for bargain hunters. No big shops here, just small kiosks selling all kinds of cotton garments and curios aimed mainly at the college crowds and tourists. The Tibetan shops keep a lot of attractive silver and artificial jewellery studded with semi-precious stones and the Jawahar Vyapar Bhavan and Central Cottage Industries Emporium nearby are worth checking out for Indian handicrafts.

The adjacent Baba Kharak Singh Marg also houses a number of government-run emporia selling high-quality Kashmiri shawls, silks, folk paintings, woodcarvings and jewellery. Palika Bazar, an air-conditioned underground mall, sells electronic goods and imported garments at throwaway prices.

3) Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat, spread over a 6-acre area, is the first permanent fairground in the country showcasing the arts, crafts, handlooms and food of different states. It is an upgraded variance of India's traditional haat (marketplace), beautifully laid out and well maintained. There are about 62 stalls, let out to artisans who rent it for a maximum of 15 days. This allows groups from different parts of India to display their work here, and also adds variety to Dilli Haat's goods. Vegetable dyed, block-printed and tie-and-dyed fabrics, folk art wall hangings, pottery, imitation jewelry, bamboo work, brassware, furniture and durries (lightweight carpets) are just some of the things you'll get here at any time. The food court offers delicacies from every region in India and the atmosphere is livened up with music and dance performances at regular intervals. Altogether, a fun place to spend an afternoon.

4) Hauz Khas Village

Hauz Khas is one of the many villages subsumed by the southward growth of Delhi. In the early 1980s, it began its transformation into a chic shopping area when socialite and designer Bina Ramani opened her boutique here. Several other designer outlets followed suit, and today, Hauz Khas is a patchwork of traditional Indian homes, glass showrooms and polished display windows. New Delhi's glitterati come here to buy clothes and object d'art and to eat at one of the many gourmet restaurants that have come up.

5) Jama Masjid

Remnants of Jama Masjid's glorious past takes one back to the 18th Century and makes the visit an unforgettable experience. The marketplace is divided into several small shopping centres, each unique in its ambience and the goods it sells. The Cotton Market at Jama Masjid, for instance, trades in colorful fabrics, quilts and pillows. The Churiwali Gali is where one goes to buy typically Indian glass bangles. The Chor Bazar or flea market sells just about everything from antique glass bottles and carpets to used bullets. The Meena Bazaar, the most popular of the lot, sells garments and cosmetics. A number of roadside dhabas (shack restaurants) at Jama Masjid serve the most delicious Moghlai meals, and you should sample some of them - provided your stomach can take it are you're not too fussy about cleanliness.

6) Lajpat Nagar/Sarojini Nagar Market

The Lajpat Nagar market is the favourite haunt of college students looking for fashionable clothes at cheap prices. Garments come really cheap here and a good-quality T-shirt or pair of pajamas can cost as little as US$ 1. It's a good idea to browse through the shops and enquire about prices before you actually purchase anything. Chances are, the same article you have chosen is selling for even less just a few yards away. The Sarojini Nagar market is close by and the stock is largely similar. While Lajpat Nagar has a lot of ethnic wear, the market at Sarojini Nagar deals only in western clothes. Sizes are no problem since the export-surplus stock consists mostly of larger sizes.

7) Santushti Shopping Complex

The complex, run by the Air Force Wives Welfare Association, is located off the Race Course Road roundabout. Pebbled paths lead up to about 30-odd stores, beautifully laid out on a rolling garden. A number of the city's top designers have an outlet here. The Anokhi - selling Rajasthani fabrics, dresses, crockery, home linen and lengths of saris - will be of interest to foreign tourists. The hugely-popular Basil &Thyme restaurant is also located here.

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Published on 6/17/03

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