Chandni Chowk is an epitome of brightest part of Delhi’s history which saw Red Fort built by Shah Jahan during the Mughal period and a market (called ‘bazaar’ in those times) designed by his daughter Jahanara. This magnificient market was to have two canals of water flowing right through with water being drawn from River Yamuna with shops on both flanks of canal. Besides, there was to be a half-moon shaped square whose reflection during the full moon light was to fall in the water below in the canal. There were to be small lanes and bylanes in the hinterland of these shops which were to be named as “kuchas” and “katras”, the names with which its small lanes are known even now. You must have heard the names of “Kucha Majhri”, “Katra Neel”, “Katra Asharfi”, etc.
The name Chandni Chowk also derived from the large number of traders in Silver metal and jewelry who used to trade from here. No wonder that there are a number of silver, gold and diamond jewelry shops here.
With time, the canal gave way to a central road.
Administratively, Chandni Chowk is a part of Central District and of what is colloquially called “Old Delhi”.
The Chandni Chowk Market
Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets of Delhi deriving its origin right from the era of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It extends from Lahori Gate of Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid.
It is one of the biggest wholesale markets of the city trading in almost all products, chief among these being clothing, fabrics, grains and jewelry. The adjacent market of Fatehpuri is known for wholesale trade in spices and dry fruits. Oldest shops here are more than a century old, and over generations, have carved out a niche for themselves. Ghantewala shop held expertise in making desi ghee roasted dry fruits and sweets. Haldiram opened one of its first shops in Delhi in this market and today it is a big chain and a household name in snacks, sweets and restaurant business. Kanwajis is another famous sweet shop. The “dahi bhallas” of Natraj and the very next Kulfi stall are more than 5 decades old. The “pranthe wali gali” is a lane which is famous for the paranthas made there. You can smell the ghees and oils right from the moment you enter the lane. A decades old “jalebi” and “puri-kachori” vendor shop lies right on the corner of Dariba Kalan, the hub of jewelry market.
Coming to Jewelry, Dariba Kalan, Ballimaran and Kuch Mahjri have many small and large shops that specialize in trendy gold and silver jewelry. Shri Ram Hari Ram, Prakash Chand Sheel Chand and many other popular shops have been in this business for many generations now.
Chandni Chowk is also a huge wholesale and retail market for clothes and clothing material. CTC Plaza, Om Prakash Jawahar Lal and Chhabras are two big names in traditional wear. Shyam Garments and many other shops are known for modern clothing for all age groups.
Chandni Chowk also has Digamber Jain Lal Temple right on the main road. The architectural magnificence of this temple lies in its intricate carvings on pillars and walls.
Famous Sis Ganj Gurudwara is right in the middle of the Chandni Chowk market. It is one the most sacred places for the Sikh community as their ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, was beheaded by Aurangzeb for not converting to Islam right at this place.
Fatehpuri Masjid is also situated at the other end of Chandni Chowk and is revered by the Muslim community. Besides, there is the famous Jama Masjid which was also built by Shah Jahan and it lies close to Chandni Chowk.
Presence of temples, mosques and gurudwaras is a testimony to the principle of unity in diversity of our country.
The Bird Hospital
The Charitable Bird Hospital is perhaps, one of its kind not only in Delhi but also in the areas close to Delhi. This hospital takes care of all types of birds which are wounded or are suffering from any ailment. It plays a leading role in saving lives of birds and attending to their ailments. It is located right next to the Digamber Jain Temple.
The Pigeon Market
Those who love to domesticate the pigeons, there is a market from where you can buy these birds. This is called the “Kabootar” market or the pigeon market and lies close to Red Fort area.
Old Delhi railway station lies in close proximity to Chandni Chowk. This is a major railway station with thousands of passengers and tonnes of cargo being handled every day.
Delhi Metro rail has two lines passing through this market. Yellow line has Chandni Chowk station and Chawri Bazaar stations close to Chandni Chowk whereas Violet Line has Lal Quila and Jama Masjid stations.
Areas close to Chandni Chowk are Paharganj to west, Freoz Shah Kotla in south, Tis Hazari in north-west and Raj Ghat to east.