On six acres of land reclaimed from a rocky drain, lies an oasis of craftes, cuisine and culture. It has few peers around the world and Britain’s Prince Charles, on one of his visits, stretched a whistle-stop tour to drop by. London’s Camden market and Galeries Lafayette in Paris are distant cousins, but there’s no place like Dilli Haat.
“A visit to Dilli Haat is my detox pill. I come here once a week and walk out rejuvenated,” says Devadeep Konwar, a photojournalist with NDTV. A take-off from the archetypal Indian rural marketplace where artisans sell merchandise minus marketing, Dilli Haat mesmerises all with its quaint rural setting. Though the Haat itself is a permanent venue, the participating artisans keep changing every fortnight.
“This is a delightful stop in a city steeped in history,” says Englishwoman Amaris Smithfield. Scouring the Haat on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, Smithfield collected several souvenirs: a Madhubani painting, a terracotta watch, a mirror rimmed with traditional Rajasthani woodwork and a Pashmina shawl.
Dilli Haat is an essential stop for the foreign tourist. The Japanese have done a garba here and the Germans bhangra. Nevertheless, it is as much an eye-opener for the domestic tourist.
Depending on who you are, Dilli Haat means different things to different people. Newlyweds Ashok and his wife Amita Patnaik from Bhubaneswar are in town. Dilli Haat, they say, has served as a ‘crash course on diverse cultures’.
Conceived out of a social concern, the Haat aims to empower rural artisans from the 25 states and bring the art-savvy urban consumer to their doorstep without the involvement of middlemen.
Handloom, rugs, durries, marble artifacts, sandalwood items or silverware are some of the thousands of articles one can pick from. The country’s fabrics come alive here. Drape yourself in Bengal’s ‘tant’, Assam's silk or Benaresi zardosi.
There’s another reason why Dilli Haat is hangout hub for Delhi’s young crowd. It’s the only place where lovebirds can go for a daylong date in one of the Haat’s several foodcourts.