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Hidden gems of Chandni Chowk

delhi Updated: Feb 03, 2012 23:24 IST
Isha Manchanda
Isha Manchanda
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

To ask a Dilli-waalah if they know where Karim's, Meena Bazaar or Paranthe Waali Gali are might get you raucous laughter. Half the shops in the area's massive commercial market spaces proudly display some award or framed newspaper reports.

From Ballimaran to Jama Masjid - and everywhere in between - Old Delhi is full to the brim with history, and a rich cultural heritage. There is, however, much more to the old city than guidebooks can ever list.

While places such as Meena Bazaar, Ashok Chaat Bhandaar, Kinaari Bazaar, Paranthe Waali Gali and Ghantewaala sweets have earned reputations that precede them by miles, there are gems lying in wait, eager to be uncovered.

Be it the fellow selling exquisite brass surma-bottles outside Gurudwara Sis Ganj, or the kachori-wala on Nai Sarak outside the CTC shop or even the many chaat-stalls at Bazaar Sitaram, the area is full of surprises.

Founded in 1639 as Shahjahanabad, the Walled City lays bare the method in the madness that defines Delhi's unique cultural identity. Among the chaos and dilapidation, every step unearths hidden treasures. Some of the businesses have been around so long they're etched onto the city's skin.

For every 100 people who know about the book bazaar on the pavements of Daryaganj, possibly one knows about the stout man selling sundry antiques there every Sunday.

Among the many landmark food haunts in the area, not many know about the Kabuli eateries in the historic Gali Qasim Jan in Ballimaran, where legendary poet Mirza Ghalib once lived and wrote.

If you look closely, you could spend a lifetime traversing the nervous system of the Walled City.