Daryaganj also spelled as ‘Darya Ganj’ means ‘River Neighbourhood’ or ‘River Trading Warehouse’. It constitutes of Shahjahanabad known as the ‘walled city’ in Old Delhi and commences at Delhi Gate and runs right through to the Red Fort or ‘Lal Qila’.
Daryaganj is known for its unique and distinct architectural features that depict an influence of a modern European style of architecture which is very prominent in the buildings of this region. The building facade showcases mouldings of circular columns and semi-circular arches that were designed specially to encounter the heat during summers as well as the cold during the winter seasons of Delhi. Houses are seen with traditional Fireplaces set in large and spacious rooms to allow for ventilation as seen in European houses.
During the British rule, Daryaganj served as a small open market for the residents of Shahjahanabad and hence was named as ‘Daryaganj’ which means ‘River’ for ‘Darya’ and ‘Market’ for ‘Ganj’ and also owing to the fact that the Yamuna River had once flowed through this small market place during that era which has gradually disappeared through the years due to the modern urbanisation of Delhi.
The district of Daryaganj is generally very crowded from Mondays to Saturdays, however, Sunday is considered as the main business day especially for all the pavement booksellers. One will witness the largest platform of booksellers in India who retail second hand books, magazines, journals, Articles and so forth and hence this region is mainly known for its ‘Old Book Bazaar’ or ‘Book Market’ that is sometimes called as the ‘Kitab Bazaar’ by the locals of that area. It is visited by students, book enthusiasts from across the country. The prices are very low and especially during Sundays, one can get books on a variety of topics at a throw away price. This market stretches over one and a half kilometres and is situated right on the pavement or footpath of Daryaganj near the Golcha Cinema Hall, which is one of the oldest Movie Theatres in Delhi.
The Old Book Market of Daryaganj acts as a source of livelihood and income for over 200 pavement booksellers and hence is of great importance that they are able to sell it at a very low profit margin. This market has been the prime feature of the Daryaganj area for almost three decades and still continues to attract thousands of tourists and visitors every Sunday. If you are very patient in scouting through the massive variety of second hand books, you will definitely hit upon an interesting piece of topic, magazine or journal that will not leave you disappointed but instead make you purchase even a few extra books.
Darya Ganj is also home to a number of book publishers and their respective offices such as Prentice Hall India, S. Chand & Co. and Oxford University Press to name a few. Mr. Subhash Chand Agrawal, who is the President of the ‘Sunday Book Bazaar Patri Welfare Association’ states that the ‘Sunday Bazaar’ does not retail only used books but also retails books that are acquired from other places and the numerous old edition of books that publishers are not able to sell are sold through these pavement booksellers. One will also find new books that were unclaimed during transportation by trains and buses which are later auctioned by the Railway department and other transportation authorities and then acquired by these pavement booksellers who retail them at a very low price.
Often, people sell their Old Books that they have no use of and these used books are then acquired by distributors on Ansari Road. These distributers also retail these used books to customers and sell bulk quantities to other booksellers at a wholesale price. Booksellers from places like Hyderabad and the South also travel to Delhi to acquire their stock from Daryaganj.
Today, Daryaganj forms the main hub for commercial trade and is fringed by numerous small and ancient shops catering to the different requirements of the city throughout the week and the Sunday Bazaar that transforms into the India’s largest market selling used books and magazines. So if you are looking for a cheap deal in Books coupled with all kinds of topics and languages under one roof then this is the place to visit.
Daryaganj is also famous for being the birthplace of Mr. Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan; however, the family relocated to Pakistan post Independence and partition. It is also famous for eateries like Chole Bhature, Kebabs near Jama Masjid roadside stalls and ancient Mughlai cuisines from Karim’s that is a must try.
Tourists can also visit the nearby attractions located close to Daryaganj such as the Dara Shikoh Library, ancient Jama Masjid, Kashmere Gate, Lothian Cemetery, Rajghat, Salimgarh Fort and St. James Church. It is easily accessible by road and the Metro Link and visitors can easily hire an auto rickshaw or taxi to and from this region. The Indira Gandhi International Airport is situated approximately 24.5 Kms or 48 minutes away while the Nizamuddin Railway Station is 7.6 Kms or 22 minutes away. The New Delhi Railway Station is just 3.9 Kms or 12 minutes away and the Old Delhi Railway Station is also located at 4.8 Kms or 20 minutes away.
Tourists and visitors can board a Metro Train from their respective areas and de-board at the Chawri Bazaar Metro Station situated approximately 3.0 Kms or 10 minutes away from the main market area of Daryaganj.