Have you ever seen?
The bright orange, red, brown and green?
In the narrow lanes
In front of window panes
Those big organized mounds
Inviting you to look around?
Has the aroma titillated you
To look twice
And taste sweet and spice, and everything nice?
Come to the core of India
The biggest market in Asia
Get lost in the streets
Stop occasionally, and have the sweet meats
Welcome to Khari Baoli
Visit the heart of pulsating Delhi.
Being a resident of Delhi, it was about time that I saw her in her true glory. In search for her true nature, I have begun a new mini-series, where I explore parts of Delhi that truly make her what she is.
Khari Baoli is part of the wide network of wholesale markets that dot North Delhi. Touted as the largest spice market in Asia, it has a myriad of shops selling all kinds of Indian (mostly North Indian) spices, herbs and food products, like rice and tea.
The market has been operational since the 17th century, and is adjacent to the historic Red Fort in the north part of the city. During the days of the yore, shops did not have distinct names, and were referred to merely by the number designated to them, such as “chawal wale 13”, or simply “13”, but with the passage of time, the shops have adopted the various names given by its owners.
How to get there:
The best way to reach Khari Baoli is by the Delhi Metro. Step down at the Chandni Chowk station, and follow exit marked for Chandni Chowk. Once you exit the metro station building follow the exit marked towards Khari Baoli, which is routed through a garden.
From the metro station, Khari Baoli is 20-25 mins away, and extremely confusing to access. I suggest switching on google maps to navigate through the streets, or simply ask for directions as you proceed.
Note: Chandni Chowk (which includes Khari Baoli) is extremely crowded and very chaotic. Don’t get overwhelmed by it, simply protect your valuables, and walk straight towards your destination.
Best time to go:
The market is open on all days except Sundays. It operates between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I suggest you visit the market during the cooler months of November to February, or during the evenings during rest of the months, as it can get extremely hot during the day, thus becoming difficult to walk. I made the rookie mistake of going there mid-morning, and the heat completely drained all my energy within no time!
Where to buy your wares:
The most famous shop in Khari Baoli is Mehar Chand and Sons. You can read about it here and here, and visit their facebook page here. Established in 1917, the 99-year old establishment stocks the best quality of spices, herbs, dry fruits and tea. Being a huge tea junkie, the chai masala they made me smell had one of the most divine aromas I’ve ever smelled in my life. Don’t be fooled by its toned down appearance, once you enter the shop and discover the goods, it will blow your mind!
In addition to the spices, herbs and dry fruits, I strongly suggest having a look at the following things:
- Their locally manufactured tea leaves;
- The chai masala if you’re a fan of tea;
- Try out the makhana (fox nut), which is rich in protein; and
- The dry fruits, particularly the dried dates.
Don’t miss the local shops selling papads (dried and herbed dough – some are even made from rice) and fryums if you like fried food.
What to carry:
Make sure you stay hydrated, so please carry plenty of water. Wear walking shoes, as it is quite a hike up to Khari Baoli from the metro station. I also suggest carrying an empty backpack to carry the products you purchase there. It becomes very difficult to carry heavy bags in your hands when you’re heading back from the market.
That’s it from me! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me on Instagram, Facebook or on this website. I am happy to help!
If you’re in the mood for a trip to Khari Baoli, I am also willing to act as a guide (for a modest fee) if you’re interested in travelling with me. Cheers!