Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. It is considered as the backbone of Old Delhi, and is an iconic shopping area, filled with temples, and crammed with stores selling everything from street food to saris.
Traffic snarls are a common factor here and the tiny bazaars take you away from the main street which gives you an exposure to the small lanes, glittering with jewellery, decorations, paper goods and much more.
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The Red Fort is located within the market; it was built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and was designed by his daughter Jahanara. The market was once divided by canals which are now closed. These canals used to reflect the moonlight. The market still remains one of India's largest wholesale markets.
October to March is the best time to visit. Summers are very hot here and should be avoided as much as possible as the temperature might rise upto 45 degree Celsius.
Temperatures fall a little during the monsoons, but rains might hamper your sightseeing plans.
Chandni Chowk, or the Moonlight Square was designed and established by Princess Jahanara Begum in 1650 AD. It originally had 1,560 shops and the bazaar measured 40 yards wide and 1,520 yards long.
It was shaped as a square to give more elegance with the presence of a pool at the centre of the complex. The pool shimmered in the moonlight, which was perhaps responsible for its name. The shops were originally built in a half moon shaped pattern which cannot be seen anymore.
It was famous for its silver merchants, which also has contributed to the name, as silver is called Chandi in Hindi, with a slight variation it forms Chandni. The pool in the chowk was replaced by a clock tower in 1870 but was demolished in 1950.
Chandni Chowk is also a religious hub and it has different places of worship for people of different faiths. Most of the places are centuries old and stand tall in harmony. The Sis Ganj Sahib Gurudwara, Christian Central Baptist Church and Digambar Jain Temple stand on the same path.
Jama Masjid stands not too far from the other mosques opposite the Red Fort. This speaks volumes about this place, which is rarely seen elsewhere.
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Chandni Chowk is filled with ancient monuments which stand witness to the happenings of the market area. There are religious monuments, havelis or palaces and lots of shops which are ready to offer you anything from food to clothes.
1. Beguma Samur's Palace
The palace was built in a garden gifted by Akbar Shah, a Mughal ruler in 1806. The palatial building which stands in the market area is currently owned by the State Bank Of India group and has its Chandi Chowk branch functioning at the palace.
2. Chunnamal Haveli
The Chunnamal haveli is one of the well preserved havelis in the area. Spread across over an acre of land, it has 128 rooms built in three floors. An inscription in the wall states that it was built in the year 1848 by a wealthy merchant Lala Chunnamal.
3. Ghantewala Halwai
It was established in 1790 AD which makes it one of the oldest sweet shops in India that make traditional sweets. It catered to the Mughal emperors, Presidents and Prime Ministers of India. It is known for its Sohan Halwa.
4. Paranthewali Gali
Paranthewali Gali is a narrow street which is noted for its never ending shops selling different varieties of parathas.
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