25 June 2012

Dilli Haat, New Delhi


Designed to invoke the atmosphere of an Indian village fair, the Dilli Haat (Haat refers to weekly market in rural & semi-urban areas) caters to foreigners & Indians alike with a plethora of Indian handicrafts & showpieces on sale. With its amalgam of food, cultural activities & handicrafts the Dilli Haat has become a cultural magnet over time. I remember going there when I was a little kid, & even now when I visit the place something or the other always catches my attention. & of course, with the wide variety of traditional crafts – copperware, clothes, pottery, chandeliers, cane & jute products, gems, beads etc, the place provides an excellent venue for photography. One can avail crafts & showpieces from a number of Indian states, of course at a price, in one of the several shops that the Haat houses. An entire section is devoted to wood & cane furniture that include rosewood & sandalwood products. Another section stocks draperies, curtains & fabric products.


Welcome - The Dilli Haat

The traders & merchandise dealers keep on changing over time, if one month the star attraction are the carpet sellers from Kashmir, the next month in their place would be the idol makers from Chhattisgarh. That is what really differentiates it from a truly rural village fair – while the latter is itself mobile, moving from place to place in search of better markets & patrons, the former provides a spot to the traders to assemble under one roof to display their skills & creations. Though I am confused about this system too - some of the traders here seem to be a permanent fixture!! Now how do they manage that??


Colors that awe - Papier-mâché elephant head


Then there are the state eateries – a gourmet heaven for those foodies who grace the place just for its numerous eating options. From the Vada Paos & Pao Bhaji of Maharashtra to Fruit Beer & Momos from Assam, you get everything here at the individualized restaurants. The food is prepared hygienically & is priced somewhat steeply. In addition, the Haat also organizes numerous food festivals, notably famous being the annual Mango fest.


My favourite - the Assam Momos!!


The Dilli Haat is collectively run by a number of Govt. agencies such as Delhi Tourism Corporation, Delhi Municipal Corporation & the Ministry of Tourism of Govt. of India, Development Commissioners (D.C.) of Handicrafts & Handlooms. Although the Haat is organized at Pitampura & INA Market, the latter is the more popular one & I refer to it only as I am yet to visit the one in Pitampura. The Haat at INA Market has been operational since 1994, while the one at Pitampura was established in 2008.


Buy some carpets!!


Spread over 6 acres, the Dilli Haat (INA Market) with its careful planning & architecture provides a visual relief from the urban landscape. Mostly constructed out of stone & brick work, the entire arena is carefully dotted with flowering shrubs & trees, planted at vantage point to provide the required green cover to give a village touch. The thatched roofs & bamboo poles give the place a rural feel.


Or perhaps a chandelier..


The Govt. provides its stalls for a meagre rent of Rs 250 per day (15 days max) to struggling craftsmen & traders from different states & this helps keep prices lower compared to other bazaars & retail outlets in Delhi. The craftsmen/traders have to be registered with D.C. Handicrafts to avail these discounts. Still the prices aren’t as low as one would expect, since mostly foreigners shop at Dilli Haat the traders tend to exaggerate the prices. Here too, the Haat provides the uniquely Indian experience of bargaining for each & everything, no matter what the price may be.


Amulet hanging outside one of the shops - Protection from the evil eye


Dilli Haat is the only bazaar in entire Delhi providing Toilet facilities & Wheelchair access, increasing its visitor-friendliness quotient.

Like all Indian fairs, the Dilli Haat is famous amongst tourists especially for its Rajasthani puppets (“Kathputlis” in Hindi), trinket & jewellery sellers & the “Rice Writers”. The latter would write an entire name, or in some cases several names, on a single rice grain. For a near-true experience of the Indian fairs & bazaars one should certainly head to the Dilli Haat. More so, because not everyone can visit the bazaars & the annual fairs that dot the countryside - even I haven't had the occasion to visit any till date!!


The Rajasthani couple


Outside the main arena are the unofficial vendors selling ice creams, tea, papdi chaat & gol gappas (Delhi street food). Some would apply henna to your hand or braid you hair with colourful threads & beads. Very famous with young girls, these braiding experts would keep a CD on your head & pass strands of hair through it while tying each strand with a different coloured thread so deftly. Unfortunately, the person accompanying the girl getting her hair braided has to wait for 30 min for the process to complete & it gets so boring!! I have endured the experience so many times now with my cousin sisters that I have sort of become numb to the wait - usually I spend time photographing all these people & the kids who accompany them. Sigh!!


The braids!! - What's your color??


Open: All days, 10:30 am – 9 pm
Entry Fee: Adult : Rs 20, Child : Rs 10
Nearest Metro Station: INA Market
Photography/Video Charges: Nil
Facilities: Toilets, Wheelchair access 
Time required for sight seeing: 2 hours

6 comments:

  1. had a wonderful joyride of delhi haat aftr rdg dis:)))))

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  2. dis is the best ever article i have ever read...kudos to u and ur photograph!! lots of best wishes and eagerly waiting for more such journeys!! :)

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  3. Beautiful photos - they are great - love the colours

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  4. Asif MuhammadSeptember 29, 2014

    Great photos! Perfect contrast n a very good mixture of colours ! good n refreshing one, i really liked

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  5. Nice work done over the post :)

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  6. Your blog sounded and looked very colorful. I like it.

    Check mine at http://lifeonweekends.com/2016/01/23/13-reasons-why-you-should-visit-delhi-haat-every-month/

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete