Just doing the rounds of Delhi’s bazaars is enough to keep you busy for the whole day when visiting this city. Despite the dizzying proliferation of malls, the distinct markets of Delhi have grown in character. Some of it may be thanks to the emerging design scene that is as proud as it is talented; some of it has to do with historic shopping trails that have continually evolved to still be at the top of their game. They all have in common a few truths—one, a bizarre system of parking in which you blindly and whole-heartedly trust the attendant with your key, which he always traces to its rightful owner. Two, we’re either too warm or too cold, but we’ll always find a food or drink option that just right. Three, hands empty or full, we always come home vaguely satisfied. These markets cover the gamut from roadside glory to glamour stories.
It’s the king of all markets. This is what childhood memories are made up of, especially since it housed the city’s only Big Chill back in the day. Now it’s made up of a good mix of posh new-age designers, undisputed champions like Good Earth and Anokhi, stores selling nail-clippers as well as the jewelry man in a dingy corner who always manages to light up our days. The food and drink options here continue to mushroom. All in all, usually a great day out.
Sarojini Nagar Market
If you ever wondered where to buy in India what’s “made in India,” Sarojini might just have the answer for you. It’s teeming with makeshift stalls of export surplus products—which means a minor (or imagined) snag in a garment or accessory or for major international brands to find their way here for sale. It’s a bit of a hit or miss, depending on what trends take the global stage and your bargaining skills. Overall, it’s erring on the side of hits.
Mehar Chand Market
Touted as the new market on the block, this block is crammed with design heroes, French bistros and everything cool in between. With its line-up of new(ish) stores like Almirah, CMYK, O Layla and The Kirana Shop, it manages to retain a sense of discovery—a slightly more grown-up version of some of the hipster spots in the city.
This one isn’t for the faint-hearted. Located in Old Delhi, this market has only grown in size, scale and legend. Sometimes it feels like every single human being in Delhi is gathered here, mostly for illicit items or outright knock offs. Khari Baoli is the spice market and the Sunday book sale at Daryaganj (Kitab Market) has the city’s masses lining up for books at a very cheap price.
Santushti Shopping Complex
Started and run by the Air Force Wives Association, it’s hardly a wonder that this shopping complex is all class. With its quaint charm, picturesque outdoors and the iconic lunch spot Basil & Thyme, it’s fair to say you’ll be led down a garden path. P.s. Picturesque is the name of a home décor store in the complex—definitely worth checking out.