The sights of Purani Dilli never cease to amaze us. In a yet another frame, there are countless gunny bags of red and yellow chilies in all sorts of sizes, lining the walls of these centuries-old shops, that run deep, leading to the ancient godowns. It is Khari Baoli, the biggest spice market in Asia.
Located on the western end of Chandni Chowk, close to the Red Fort and adjacent to the Jama Masjid, Khari Baoli has a lot of history associated with it. Here are some of the unique facts you never knew about this vast spice market.
• It’s FOUR centuries old!
The Khari Baoli market came up around the same time as Fatehpuri Masjid (built in 1650). It was built by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Shah Jahan’s wives. It came to be known as Khari Baoli where Khari stands for salty and Baoli for step-well. In the 1930s, a large number of families migrated from Punjab to Delhi and settled in different areas of Delhi. Many of them started their shops in Khari Baoli and nearby markets.
• The true ‘Masala’ Land –
Asia’s biggest spice market allows you to choose from a variety of spices, both local and exotic. From prunes and dried mulberries from Afghanistan to the dried plums from Kashmir, it is a mesmerizing scenario once you enter the market with a sight of various spices and dry fruits accompanied with a rich smell of each.
• Wellness, at its best –
There are endless varieties of Ayurvedic herbs and medicines available here. They will appear to you as fossils but are actually rare herbs and medicines which are good remedies for certain diseases. Before Diwali, the market starts drawing huge rush of people who come here especially for dry fruit shopping.
• Order amidst chaos –
Amidst the narrow lanes and crowded streets, every morning the dedicated shopkeepers neatly arrange their stock and get ready for their daily business. Every morning, the ancient streets of Khari Baoli come to life. If you chance to cross the same lanes at night, the scene is just the opposite with all shutters down. So setting up these stalls every morning is a ritual worth watching.
• A treat for festival shoppers –
Khari Baoli not only holds the distinction of being Asia’s largest spice market but is possibly a place where most of Delhi gets its dry fruits for gifting during the festive season. Stacks of dry fruit boxes in numerous designs are showcased, options ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 2,500.The market has trays heaped with every possible dry fruit — California and Kabul almonds to raisins from Rajasthan and China. The streets of Khari Baoli get hugely crowded during Diwali due to its qualitative options at great flexible prices.
• Lanes inside lanes –
Roaming on Khari Baoli streets is like finding a way through a maze. To the endless lanes and by-lanes, this million worth spice bazaar has something unique stored in its every nook and corner.
In this age of change where the old world is disappearing in the jungle of high rises and shopping malls, Khari Baoli stands as an emblem of our rich past. Filled with uniqueness, this grand bazaar is a reflection of our rich culture through the strong aromas and streets of Old Delhi.