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The Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square) is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India. Chandni Chowk is located close to Old Delhi Railway Station. The Red Fort monument is located within the market. It was built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor of India Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahanara. The market was once divided by canals (now closed) to reflect moonlight and remains one of India's largest wholesale markets.[1][2]

Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk is located in Delhi
Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk
Location in Delhi, India
Chandni Chowk is located in India
Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk (India)
Coordinates: 28°39′22″N 77°13′52″E / 28.656°N 77.231°E / 28.656; 77.231Coordinates: 28°39′22″N 77°13′52″E / 28.656°N 77.231°E / 28.656; 77.231
Union TerritoryDelhi
DistrictCentral Delhi
MetroChandni Chowk
 • OfficialHindi, Urdu
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Planning agencyMunicipal Corporation of Delhi



Procession of the Emperor Bahadur Shah II on Chandni Chowk in 1843.
Chandni Chowk in the 1860s.
Shahjahanabad: Chowk bazaar as a horizintal street in the centre of walled city marked in the red, half moon shaped moonlight Chandani Chowk square itself was located in front of the Municipal Hall. Equi-divided one third sections of the road represent three bazaars,. Urdu Bazaar, Johri Bazaar and Fatehpuri Bazar. c. 1911.
Jahanara Begum's caravanserai that formed the original Chandni Chowk, from Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalf's 1843 album.
Indian National Flag hoisted on Ghantaghar at Chandni Chowk, 15 August 1947.
Existing Delhi Town Hall (Municipal Hall) at Chandni Chowk, with statue of Swami Shraddhanand in front.
Painting of the Golden Mosque (Sunehri Masjid) in the 1850s, by Ghulam Ali Khan.
Procession of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India, 1903 Delhi Durbar.
Chandni Chowk has multitudes of Muslims as its inhabitants

The market's history dates to the founding of the capital city of Shahjahanabad when Emperor Shah Jahan established the Red Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River beside his new capital.

Original Chandani ChowkEdit

The original Chandni Chowk, half moon-shaped square, itself was located in front of Municipal Town hall and its reflection use to shine in the moonlit water pool located in front of it. A shallow water channel was built from Yamuna, which ran through the middle of the straight road currently known as the Chandani Chowk Bazaar, with road and shops on either side of the channel. This road had three Bazaars.[3] Chandni Chowk, or the Moonlight Square, and its three Bazaar were designed and established by Princess Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan’s favourite daughter, in 1650 CE. Originally containing 1,560 shops, the bazaar was 40 yards wide by 1,520 yards long.[4] The bazaar shaped as a square was given elegance by the presence of a pool in the centre of the complex. The pool shimmered in the moonlight, a feature which was responsible for its name.[5] Shops were originally built in a half-moon shaped pattern, now lost. The bazaar was famous for its silver merchants, which also have contributed to the name of "Silver Street"[6] as silver is referred to as Chandi in Hindi, a slight variation of which forms Chandni.

The pool in the chowk was replaced by a clock tower (Ghantaghar) until the 1950s. The center of the market is still referred to as Ghantaghar. Chandni Chowk was once the grandest Indian market.[7] Mughal imperial processions passed through Chandni Chowk. The tradition was continued when Delhi Durbar was held in 1903. Delhi Town Hall was built in 1863 by the British.

Original three bazaarsEdit

The term Chandni Chowk originally referred only to the square that had a reflecting pool. Now the whole straight road which runs through the middle of the walled city, from the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid is called Chandani Chowk. The road was then divided into three following bazaars:[8][3]

  • Johri Bazar: Chowk Kotwali to Chandni Chowk (location of now demolished Ghantaghar, presently in front of Municipal/Town Hall) section of the straight road was originally called Johri Bazar.
  • Fatehpuri Bazar: 'Chandni Chowk' to Fatehpuri Masjid section of the straight road was originally called the Fatehpuri Bazar.

Now choked with congestion, the market retains its historical character.[9]

Kucha, katra and havelisEdit

Begum Samru's Palace at Chandni Chowk, Delhi, 1857, after Indian Rebellion of 1857
A haveli on Chandni Chowk in 1858 (picture by Felice Beato)

The road now called Chandni Chowk had several streets running off it which were called kuchas (streets / wings). Each kucha usually had several katras (cul de sac or guild houses), which in turn had several haveli's. The following terms are generally used to describe the buildings and the streets:[9]

  • Mohalla (neighborhood): is a residential neighborhood with Kuchas and Kartras within Kuchas.[10]
  • Kucha or Gali (street): Kucha in persian language is synonymous with "gali" or street in hindi language. It a street or a zone with houses whose owners shared some common attribute, usually their occupation. Hence the names Kucha Maliwara (the gardeners' street) and Kucha Ballimaran (the oarsmen’s street). Kuchas either had rows of large havelis or gated cul de sac (dead end) "Katra" marketplaces along them.[3]
  • Kucha mahajani : is one of the biggest gold trading hub and wholesale jewellery market[11]
  • Katra (gated cul-de-sac courtyard market-cum-residential complex in a street): are one-room quarters around a court with a single narrow entrance and inhabited by people of the same caste or occupation i.e. a zone with houses whose owners shared some common attribute, usually their occupation, hence the name.[10] Katra refers to a separate wing of tradesmen and craftsmen belonging to the same trade. They usually lived and worked together in a gated cul de sac, the doors of which could be closed at night for the protection of the merchandise, equipments, workers and their families. It is a system similar to the guild housing in Amsterdam such as Handboogdoelen and Voetboogdoelen.[3]
  • Haveli (mansion}: A normal haveli has a big courtyard (atrium) surrounded on four sides by spacious rooms and often another walled courtyard around the exterior. Historic havelis include:[12][13][3]
    • Dharampura Haveli, Gali Guliyan, designed in late Mughal style although parts show the influence of 20 Century architecture. During Mughal and late Mughal Period, a large numbers of havelis were built by courtiers.[15] With increasing interest in Old Delhi by Tourist, and to revive the old world charm of Purani Dilli, Haveli Dharmpura houses an Indian restaurant serving specialities of Mughal era with a contemporary touch, which you can enjoy with classical dance.
    • Haveli Banarsi Bhawan with a water well is situated near to Shree Digambar Meru Jain Temple in Masjid khajoor area.
    • Khazanchi haveli, the Khajanchi were the accountants of Shah Jahan. A street is named after them called "Gali Khajanchi", a long underground tunnel connects the haveli and the Red Fort, so that money could be transferred safely. It is close to the entrance of Chandni Chowk, from the Red Fort walk towards Fatehpuri, turn left on road to Dariba and the haveli is at the end of the road that connects Dariba and Esplanade Road.[18]
    • Naughara Mansions in Naughara Gali off Kinari Bazaar has 18th century Jain mansions. It is a street with nine (nau) continuous havelies with beautifully brightly painted floral designs on facade. Each one of the haveli use to have a gharha (water pot) placed at door for the thirsty passerbys. There is a white marble Jain Svetambara Temple at the end of the street with stone elephant heads at the door, intricate carvings on walls and pillars, museum on ground floor with rare manuscripts embroidered in pure gold and silver threads, a black image of Lord Parasanath in the rare kasauti stone on the first floor. Office of Atma Prakash Aggrawal at the beginning of the street houses numerous antiques and should not be mistaken as an antique shop.[19][20]

Some other commonly used terms are Chatta (the upper floor which arches over the street below), phatak (door, usually to a kar=tra or street which could be locked at night), mahal (a palace, as in Taj Mahal), karma (a room), kuan is waterwell, etc.[10]

Historic religious buildingsEdit

Lal Jain Mandir and Gauri Shankar temple in the background
Gurudwara Sisganj

Delhi's most famous mosque, Jama Masjid, built in 1650 in the vicinity, is near famous religious shrines, belonging to multiple religions. Starting from the Red Fort, the buildings include:


On both sides of the wide Chandni Chowk are historical residential areas served by narrow lanes (gali), several of which are teeming with the peddlers, street vendors, street food and bazaaria.


Chawri Bazar in the Chandni Chowk area in 2006

Chandni Chowk's speciality is its variety and authenticity: food, delicacies and sweets of more than 1,000 kinds, sarees with chikan and zari. Narrow lanes host shops that sell books, clothing, electronic, consumer goods, shoes and leather goods. It is the location of the original Haldiram's and brands such as Gianis. A particular local delicacy are the jalebis, which are fried in pure ghee (clarified butter).

The Cloth Market, supplies home furnishing fabrics, including ready-made items as well as design services. Nai Sarak is the wholesale market of stationery, books, paper and decorative materials. Lal Kuan is a wholesale market for hardware and hotel kitchen equipment. It is adjacent to Tilak Market which is a wholesale market for industrial chemicals. Located at the western end of Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli is a street entirely dedicated to all kinds of spices, dried fruits, nuts, and herbs. Dariba is the market for silver and gold jewelry. This market also offers trophies, shields, mementos and related items.

Restaurants and eateriesEdit

Food shop on Khari Baoli Road

Chandni Chowk is home to several famous restaurants and halwais (confectioners), most well known among them is Gali paranthe walee.[23]

  • Paranthewali Gali with paratha shops from 1875–1886.[24]
  • Ghantewala Halwai, established in 1790.
  • Annapurna Bhandar established in 1929 by Late Mr.Purna Chander Modak[25] is popular for Bengali sweets.
  • Bikaner Sweet Shop, famous for rasmalai.
  • Chaatwallah, established in 1923, famous for fruit chaat.
  • Chainaram Halwai, established in 1948 serves famous ghee patisa in winter season like none in the city[26].
  • Gianiji ka Falooda, famous for Rabri Falooda, established around 1947.
  • Gol Hatti, established in 1954, serves famous kullhad wale chhole chawal.
  • Kanwarji Bhagirathmal Dalbijiwallah established in the mid-19th century.
  • Meghraj and Sons, since the 1950s
  • Natraj’s Dahi Bhalle, established in 1940.
  • Tewari Brothers Confectioners, (famous for Motichoor Laddoo, Samosa) established in 1987
  • The Old Famous Jalebi Wala , which is situated in Dariba Kalan, serves city's crispiest jalebis.[27]

In popular cultureEdit

Chandni Chowk was featured in the 2001 Bollywood film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham where the leading lady Anjali (Kajol) and her sister Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) lived.

In 2008, The Bollywood movie Black & White starring Anil Kapoor, Anurag Sinha, Shefali Chhaya, and Aditi Sharma is set in Chandni Chowk.

In 2009, The Bollywood movie Chandni Chowk to China starring Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Mithun Chakraborty, and Ranvir Shorey features some scenes depicting the city. In 2009, The Bollywood movie Delhi-6 starring Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Om Puri, Atul Kulkarni and Divya Dutta had its shooting in the ancient Walled City of Old Delhi, centered around Chandni Chowk.

In 2018, the Bollywood movie Rajma Chawal (under production) starring Amyra Dastur, Rishi Kapoor, Aparshakti Khurana, Raja Hasan, Mukesh Chhabra, Nirmal Rishi, Harish Khanna had its extensive section of the film shot in Lachu Ram Ki Haveli.[28]


Chandini Chowk is undergoing redevelopment to promote more tourism. Included in the redevelopment plan are footpaths in order to make the area more pedestrian friendly for the large amount of shoppers who come to the area every day. Roads are also planned to be decongested and will be barricaded; people who want to come there will have to use the Ebus. The project was supposed to be completed before the 2010 Commonwealth Games but was nothing was ever built. This is the first time the government has taken this seriously and the project has been started by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. There will also be an electric tram in the newly developed area. The Dangal Ground will also be made for parking of around 1,500 cars.[29]

Phase one will start with all overhead electrical wiring being moved underground. In phase, 2 streets would be repaired and made pedestrian friendly while highlighting the heritage of this Mughal-era theme.[30]

See alsoEdit


Further readingEdit

  • Delhi, the emperor's city: rediscovering Chandni Chowk and its environs, by Vijay Goel. Lustre Press, 2003. ISBN 81-7436-240-1.


  1. ^ "Delhi - 100 years as the Capital". The Hindu. 1 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Pin Code of Chandni Chowk Delhi". Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e A heritage walk of old Delhi.
  4. ^ Blake, Stephen P. (1998). "Contributors to the urban Landscape: Women builders in Safavid Isfahan and Mughal Shahjahanabad". Women in the medieval Islamic world : Power, patronage, and piety. New York: St. Martin’s Press. p. 420. ISBN 0312224516.
  5. ^ "Chandani CHowk history". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  6. ^ I. Mohan: Delhi, Development and Change, APH Publishing, 2000, Chapter 8, p. 33-35
  7. ^ Shahjahanabad info
  8. ^ Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture: Growth & Development, Mohamed Taher, Anmol Publications, 1998.
  9. ^ a b The Havelis, Kuchas and Katras of Chandni Chowk
  10. ^ a b c d Heritage | The Old Delhi dictionary, Livemint, 2 March 2013.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Havelis of Old Delhi/Text by Pavan K. Varma and Sondeep Shankar. Reprint, First published in 1992. New Delhi, Bookwise, 1999.
  13. ^ Hotel in Karol BaghTemplate:Date=February 2019
  14. ^ "Collect Britain has moved". 30 November 2003. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Haveli to speak of a history lost in time". 21 December 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  16. ^ Crumbling Haksar Haveli, Delhi-6: Where Nehru Went to Marry Kamla Nehru, The Quint, 27 May 2017.
  17. ^ Haveli Naharvali,, June 2001.
  18. ^ KHAZANCHI HAVELI, Times of India.
  19. ^ Naughara Gali,
  20. ^ Painted houses at naughara,
  21. ^ "Gauri Shankar Temple". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  22. ^ Shri Shiv Navgrah Mandir Dham
  23. ^ Chowk and cheese
  24. ^ Frozen paranthas posing a challenge to Paranthewali Gali fare, The Tribune, 10 November 2002
  25. ^ "Annapurna Bhandar Mithai in Chandni Chowk,Delhi/NCR.Annapurna Bhandar Restaurant in Chandni Chowk,Delhi/NCR". Timescity. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Delhi restaurants guide in India's premier youth magazine". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Inside Bollywood's obsession with Chandni Chowk".
  29. ^ Sisodia lays foundation stone for redevelopment.
  30. ^ Redevelopment plan

External linksEdit