There are a number of galis in Old Delhi that have a nostalgic air about them, with Ballimaran being one of them. Home to the legendary Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib in his last days, the gali got its name from the boats that used to be made here during the Mughal era. It’s another thing that you won’t be able to ride any boats in this area now. However, there is a lot more you can do here — shopping, eating and sightseeing. We take you through this gali and tell you about all the delights it has to offer.
Exploring the Gali
Ballimaran is famous for optical shops and stores selling footwear, bangles and accessories at wholesale prices. The opticals market here is one of the biggest in the city and is the perfect destination for your brand fix. Imitation sunglasses of famous brands such as Rayban, Prada, Armani among others can be found in many of the shops here. While the originals would cost some thousands, the fakes can be bought here for Rs150 onwards. Shops selling Kolhapuris and juttis are popular with college students. Bright multi-coloured chappals can be bought at Rs150. For those who like accessories, the market has workshops that carve out bangles, neckpieces and show-pieces out of wood. A single wooden bangle can be bought here for just Rs2. Glass bangles here cost Rs5 to Rs7 per dozen.
Eating in the Gali
While you explore this gali, do try the eateries that dish out delicious non-vegetarian delights at pocket- friendly rate. Nihari is the most popular item served in most of the eateries in Ballimaran. Yousuf hotel (011-43549405) sells Nihari for Rs18. When here, do try the old fashioned bakeries that sell freshly baked bread and cookies. Al Madina (Tel: 9312492174), a bakery in the area specialises in Coconut Sheermal, Nargisi Rusk, Suzimilk Ruk and others. Walk down to Gali Qasim Jan for a taste of Afghanistan at the Kabul restaurant and the Bismillah hotel nearby. The eateries here might be simple, but the meal will leave you satisfied.
Mirza Ghalib ki haveli
This 150-year old haveli, located in Gali Qasim Jan, is the most popular landmark of Ballimaran. Though some parts of the historic haveli was given a face-lift by the Delhi government in 1997, it is still not prominently visible from the front. An old caretaker sitting outside the haveli will give you all the information you need about this place. Don’t miss out on the museum inside the haveli that gives information about the poet.
Don’t miss out on Akbarali’s Hookah shop. The shop sells hookahs in all sizes and colours. The hookah can be bought here for Rs175 onwards and goes up till Rs1,500. The shop also gives hookahs on rent for Rs1,000 per day. All kinds of hookah flavours can be found here, as well as other types of hookah accessories.
How to reach
Get down at the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and exit from gate number 5. From there, you have the option of either hiring a cycle rickshaw that charges Rs10 or walking to the gali that will take you about 10 minutes to reach.