Situated in the old part of Delhi, Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets in the city which is a chaotic wholesale market lined by porters and hawkers exuding medieval bazaar vibes. Popular for offering every kind of goods as well as food, Chandni Chow is an important historical site. Located opposite the Red Fort, It was built by the Mughal ruler of India Shah Jahan back in the 17th century.
Offering a fell of old Delhi shopping, Chandni Chowk has a wide network of crisscrossed narrow streets with shops jostling for space. Ever since it came into existence, this place has been rightly called a “shoppers paradise” in Old Delhi. During its initial days, in the 17th century, a tree-lined canal used to run through its center, reflecting the moon. Hence, it was known as “Chandni Chowk” which means “Moonlight Place”. From clothes to perfumes, and from jewelry to idols of deities, Chandni Chowk has got it all.
This vibrant market deals in everything that shoppers might think of buying. As it is a wholesale market, shoppers can get huge discounts on everything they desire to purchase. Most of the retailers shop from here. Apart from shopping, Chandni Chowk is equally famous for its street food, eateries, and snacks. It has been rightly said, “Arre Janaam Dilli Aaye Aur Chandni Chowk Nahi Dekha to kya hi Dekha?”
Chandni Chowk is located right in the heart of Delhi. The best time to visit Delhi is between the months of October and March because of the cool weather during this time period. Between February and March, the weather remains pleasant and the air clean. Visiting Delhi during summer should be avoided because of extreme temperatures. Monsoon season is also a good time to visit Chandni Chowk.
The eldest daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Empress Mumtaz Mahal, Jahanara Begum designed the bazaar of Chandni Chowk.
Initially, the bazaar was divided into four parts; Jhri Bazaar, Ashrafi Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, and the Fatehpuri Bazaar. During the golden era of the Mughal Empire, the splendor of this market had spread all over the world. Merchants from Europe and Asia used to visit the market frequently.
The most enchanting aspect of this bazaar was the sparkling reflection of the moon in the tributary river of the Yamuna, which flowed through the center of Chandni Chowk. Wide platforms were installed by the canal where the residents loved to sit and converse for hours. Royals passing through the market was a common sight in those times.
Stretching from the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid, 1500 shops of all kinds had initially opened up along the 1.3-kilometer-long road. All the shops were made in the shape of a half-moon.
Built by Shah Jahan in 1639 as a result of a capital shift from Agra to Delhi, the Red Fort is a historical fortification in Delhi. It was the main residence of the Mughals which derived its name from its impregnable red stone walls. It used to accommodate the emperors and their households and it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal empire. Now, the Red Fort is home to numerous museums that have an extensive collection of precious artifacts on display. Every year, the Prime Minister of India unfurls the tricolors here on Independence Day.
Urdu Park is a grand park constructed in the heart of Chandni Chowk which is located adjacent to the Meena Bazaar. The lush green park is usually filled with Champi Walas, ear cleaners, body masseuses, etc. Visitors can enjoy watching cricket matches held here every Sunday.
One among the nine historical gurudwaras in Delhi, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib is located in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. This gurudwara is the martyrdom site of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, which was built by Baghel Singh in 1783.
This temple is the most ancient Jain temple in Delhi and the best-known all over the country. Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is located in Chandni Chowk and it is made entirely of red sandstone. Built back in 1658, the temple has witnessed major modifications in the later years. The temple is dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parshvanath, and is popularly known as Lal Mandir or ‘Red Temple’.
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jaha, Jama Masjid or ‘Masjid-I Jahan-Numa’ is known to be the largest mosque in India. The mosque receives a huge gathering each year during the occasion of Eid to offer special Namaz in the morning. With three gateways, two minarets, four towers, and 1200 square meters of praying area, Jama Masjid can accommodate twenty-five thousand people in the courtyard.
Named after the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, Fatehpuri Begum, Fatehpuri Masjid is located at the western end of Chandni Chowk which was built in 1650. Fatehpuri Masjid boasts of a fluted dome and towering minarets and is built by using red sandstone. With a vas central prayer hall designed with 7 enormous arches, this mosque is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture. The mosque is popular for hosting the Indian troops during the revolt of 1857. Later, it was auctioned to a local merchant by the British.
Chandni Chowk is located right at the center of Delhi, which is easily accessible from major Indian cities.
The nearest airbase from Chandni Chowk is Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airport is well-connected with major Indian cities. There are various options available to cover the remaining distance from the airport.
The easiest way to reach Chandni Chowk is via Delhi Metro. It has a dedicated metro station closely located to the market. Auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws are easily available outside the metro station to reach the desired part of the market.
The nearest railhead from Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi Railway Station. There are several options available to reach Chandni Chowk from the station.
You can travel by bus or your own car. If you don’t want to travel in crowded buses, then you can book a cab and easily reach Chandni Chowk.
Travel Tip - Chandni Chowk is a crowded place, so wear a mask and maintain the necessary distance to remain safe.