By Keerti Kataria

Whenever artists, designers and other important people talk about their inspiration, it usually circles around ‘life’, ‘people’ and the streets they’ve wandered. If you actually draw out a list of those streets, dearest Paharganj would be seen standing tall in the Top 10- atleast for the Indians, with an exception of lost Europeans!

Defamed for a long time till now, Paharganj has been mistaken for having a dark personality, as though it’s been up to no good. Drugs, bombings, and mishaps- you name it. This was the one place that would never figure on a day out with the ‘girlies’. But times, they change. I give due credit to the ‘Dilli Polce’ and their upgraded patrol for delivering a sense of calm to the space. The neighbourhood that was known to be ambiguous now finds its own place under the sun, for all those who’d like to revel in its beauty, rarity and chaos.

It all started during the holidays right before college began. I would gear up and head out in the sun to the streets of Paharganj, to get my hands on something that no one else could buy at air-conditioned malls. These purchases were quirky, they were fun.. Everything I bought was so unafraid. So I decided it was time to go back, and with a vengeance! Dilliwallas, I bring to you the tricks and treats of this amazing place and all that you can discover.

On the look out for intricate jootis{flats} for my best friend’s wedding, I was re-introduced to my favorite shoe shop, Vishal footwear. In the main bazaar street, opposite Sam’s Café, the first impression is bound to be of any other store with kohlapuris and the usual. Climb up the staircase to explore their stock of interesting gladiators, quirky chappals and lace-ups. This is the place to watch out for during the winters for their super cool boots.

31 Simply Digging Paharganj

Next I stopped at Crystal House a.k.a. Goel Cottage handloom, strategically placed down the street with a simple entrance and really colorful bags. Think color-blocked messengers, interesting backpacks priced at INR 350 and 650 along with other accessories. I felt charitable for no cause, and am happy to say that birthday presents for the upcoming months have been taken care of.

41 Simply Digging Paharganj

For the junk jewelry enthusiast, I have no recommendations. You will find umpteen jewelry stores in the area, with every store boasting of a better collection that then last.  I ended up shopping from Neha Exports that satiated my need for little nothings quite well. My favorite purchase is the very artistic orange safety pin bracelet for INR 85.

photo-2-300x300 Simply Digging Paharganj

The best is reserved for the last. Right adjacent the gol-chakkar{round about} in the main market comes the ‘unnamed shop’ selling artefacts sourced from all over India. The man at the counter was busy praying and I couldn’t get their details, but this is one store you should hunt for once you’re here. Till I came by, I was awfully hungry and poor so couldn’t give much thought to early diwali shopping.

Paharganj Simply Digging Paharganj

All in all, give this flea market a bright one of your days. You wouldn’t regret the color, crazed salesmen, fun food and art.

Here are a few details and addresses that might make it easier for the first timers |

  • Sitaram| Serving the best choley bhature since bachpan ke din. Get out of the RK Ashram metro station and take a rickshaw till the ‘Imperial Cinema’. Take a left and walk some 200 meters to find lip-smacking food!
  • Ram Prasad Durga Prasad | I remember our arrivals at the railway station very fondly thanks to this street side restaurant. Found opposite the New Delhi railway station at the NDMC market, this place serves the most heavenly halwaa and aloo puri. You will feel connected to the gods.
  • Sam’s café | A haunt for the ‘hipp’ and cool- sam’s café on the main bazaar road serves pretty neat pastas and sandwiches
  • Vishal Foot Wear | Girls with a foot fetish and an upcoming wedding to attend. CALL THEM! 5082-83, Main Bazar, Paharganj. #9811077729
  • Crystal House/ Goel Cottage Handloom | The best of bags and other accessories. 5094 Main Bazaar, Paharganj #9811375645
  • Neha Exports | Wholesalers and exporters of interesting curios and jewelry. 1177, 6 Tooti Chowk, Paharganhj.  #9811338825
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