Chandni Chowk is an ancient town that is located on the main street of Old Delhi just opposite the historic Red Fort or Lal Qila. The region was constructed by Begum Jahanara who was the favourite daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan. She laid the foundation of what is known today as the largest trading centre of North India. The name of this place was derived from the fact that the entire area used to brightly light up during full moonlit nights and hence, the Princess named this place as Chandni Chowk which means Moonlit Square. This region encompasses the area of Ajmeri Gate, Mori Gate, Nai Sarak and Sadar Bazaar.
During the Mughal reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, a shopping arcade was constructed in the shape of a crescent moon that was built to match the name of this area and in no time, a prosperous trading centre grew round its nucleus that spread along its wide road and further branched in all directions into numerous by-lanes as seen today. The original crescent shaped stretch was known as ‘Chandni Chowk’, however; due to the rapid growth of a flourishing trading centre, this market place grew rapidly and encompassed the entire area stretching from the Red Fort to Fatehpur.
Chandni Chowk is also known for its complicated and narrow by-lanes that resemble a labyrinth called as Galis in the local Hindu language. The special feature of the Market area or Bazaar is that a few lanes are named after the type of food prepared or the type of commodities retailed for example, The Jewellery Lane retails only Jewellery and the Textile Lane retails only Textiles and so for. The most famous of these Lanes is the Paranthe Wali Gali which means The Lane of Stuffed Fried Bread that is named after the Paratha Shops that serves famous and mouth watering Parathas prepared by descendants of Royal Chefs. The scented and pure ‘ghee’ used on the Parathas was known as ‘Khurad Dari Ba’ during the Mughal era and was a royal delicacy. The main shop was previously owned by a Brahmin Family, however; due to family feud they separated and opened their own Paratha shops that are seen today in this lane.
Chandni Chowk is unique and famous for being the only Trading Centre that homes numerous Worship Places of all Religions that includes 7 Hindu and Jain Temples, 2 Churches, 3 Mosques and 2 Gurudwaras, situated adjacent to each other and at a distance of 2 Kms apart. Be it a place of worship for Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity or Jainism; all are situated in a stretch of area that falls between the Red Fort and Fatehpur and co-exist in harmony.
The Chandni Chowk Market is famous for its ancient and historical landmarks such as the Sunehari Masjid, an ancient Mosque and Shrine that is situated next to the ancient area of ‘Kotwali‘ or the Old Police Station whereas the other two famous Mosques and Shrines or Dargahs named Fatehpur Masjid is located on the western end of Chandni Chowk and the Jumma Masjid or Jama Masjid stands nearby. Besides these Holy Dargahs and Shrines of Muslim Saints, this area also homes the Main Shrines of Holy entities such as the Sri Digambar Jain lal Mandir, Gauri Shankar Temple and Gurudwara Sis Ganj.
Chandni Chowk is famous for its eating joints all across India where one gets to savour the delicacies and cuisines that retain its ancient taste wherein the recipes have been passed down by four to five generations of Royal Cooks who had once served the Nobilities and the Emperors and hence presents an opportunity for you to sample a piece of history. The popular food outlets amongst the many dotted in this area are the Bikaner Sweet Shop, Chaatwallah, Gianiji ka Falooda, Haldirams, Kanwarji Bhagirathmal Dalbhajiwallah, Natrajs Dahi Bhalle and The Ghantewala Halwai.
The main area of Chandni Chowk is very close to Inter State Bus Terminal or ISBT and is a 3 minute walk from the Chandni Chowk Metro Station situated just 0.6 Kms away. It is also easily reachable from any part of Delhi via road from where one can hire taxis and auto rickshaws. The New Delhi Railway Station is close by at a distance of 3.2 Kms or 15 minutes away while the Old Delhi Railway Station is just 2 Kms or 10 minutes away and can be reached via road and the Metro Link. The Indira Gandhi International Airport and Domestic Airport are also situated about 25.9 Kms to 30 Kms or 54 minutes to 65 minutes away while the Nizamuddin Railway Station is 9.2 Kms or 32 minutes away.