Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Matka Peer Baba

This religious place, a must stop for pilgrims is located on the Purana Qila Road, strategically next to the Crafts Museum bang, on the main road. While traversing this road, before the Delhi zoo, one can see a tree with plenty of pots hung inverted. These are offerings made by devotees whose wishes have been fulfilled. For the followers irrespective of their religion, believe that all “mannat” done with a pure heart are answered. Buses carrying loads of pilgrims stop here for the blessing and where followers make their offerings. Others simply walk in for a quick prayer. The Matka Peer Baba is actually called Hazrat Sheikh Abu Bhakar Tusi Edri Kalandari Matka Peer Baba. The saint came from Iran and possessed miraculous powers of healing. And it is to this date that believers hold to this faith. In the event one’s prayers are answered the offering is a matka, yes an earthen pot made by the humble potter.

Location – On Mathura Road, at the corner of the turning to Bhairon Singh Marg.

Timing – No fixed timings opened throughout the day. Parking can be done in the Bhairon Singh Marg lane.

Highlight - At the foot before the stairs, one can buy the offerings or chadawa. It is two thalis (plates) of offering containing - fragrant rose petals, incense sticks and sugar coated offerings. The thali is sold as a pair. This is placed at the Dargah upstairs with the covered head with a cloth. The incense sticks are lit in a separate place meant for it.

Insider Tip – The musicians belt out harmonious melodious music, which literally transports one to another world. And it is difficult to believe that one is in the same mad metro. Though the shops below sell only indigenous sweet smelling rose petals as opposed to the export variety one gets everywhere in the market, somehow it smells even more wonderful here. It is this heady smell of roses which greets one at the entrance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The C R Park (Chittaranjan Park) Market II

One thing that stands out about Delhi, is its concentration of communities in particular localities. So Chittaranjan Park true to its name has a concentration of Bengalis or Bongs to be short. And the market an ideal sourcing ground for all things from Bengal – jhalmurs, shingaras, Mughlai paranthas, lovely cotton clothes and more…. There is another Part I market well it does deserve another separate blog. The market wears the most festive look during the Durga Puja. It is beautiful to see miniature idols of Saraswati, sold for the puja before Basant Panchami, in her finery bedecked and divine. It has the usual signs of modernity with branded franchise shops, ATM centres in their swanky “spot me a mile away” design. The flavour of the market is through the small shops which can take the nostalgic back to Kolkatta. For clothes especially sarees.. more and more cotton, silk…dhotis is Rama Krishna Bastralaya. Actually my parents, though the credit for discovering the shop in its earlier avatar in Gole Market goes to my father, have patronized it for years. The quality of the cotton is good, majority is handwoven and the colour does not run. The range includes – Jamdani (pure and jacquard versions), dhonekali, Tangail Dhaka, Dhaka jamdani, Mysore silk and more….it is a pleasure seeing the crisp starched cotton beautifully stacked. Aananda opposite to the market offers an excellent range of eclectic ethnic creation. Another well known eating outlet which locals swear by is Dadu’s Cutlet – offering vegetarian Shingaras (samosas), Mughlai paranthas, fish cutlets, fish chops…(being a vegetarian I have just tried the shingaras and egg paranthas both wonderful!) at very affordable prices.

Location –
The market is in the middle of the residential colony. To be precise one should turn in right from Savitri Cinema, then the first cut to the left and another left from the red light. The market is towards the end of the road. Approximately 20 kms from Connaught Place

Timing – Closed on Tuesdays. Parking on the road, quite chaotic. Prone to terrible traffic jams from 6 pm onwards and in the morning. The market comes to life in the evenings and is quite dull in the morning. 4 pm onwards is an ideal time.

Highlight - One can get a variety of desi vegetables of Kolkata – banana flower, stem, raw bananas, spinach of different varieties…and more and more varieties of fish (my knowledge here is limited!)

Insider Tip –
Dadu’s Cutlet opens in the evenings by 5 pm or so and makes only limited number of each item. He is sold out by 7 to 7:30 pm. His morning fare includes lip smacking Puris, Puchkas... Literally the early bird gets the worm!! Ram Krishna Bastralaya brings in new stocks in summers and before Puja (a month and a half before), however there is a good range throughout.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The G K – II M Block market

Shopping in Delhi is fun since it offers a host of options from the luxurious to basement bargain category. What is also surprising is that some very good value for money offers can be found at some of the top markets of Delhi. One such is the GK – II (Greater Kailash Part II ) market. Earlier this was prime space for commercial establishments, especially ad agencies and banks, today these remain but along with it has sprung some excellent shops incorporating some big names. The market is an easy to maneuver H shaped one. A lackadaisical place, its sudden metamorphosis resulted in a number of good restaurants, interior design shops especially floor tiles, kitchen, bath, tile varieties, furnishing, fashion and fitness & health centres. Both Nalli and Art Karat make their presence felt as Talwalkars and Kaya Skin Care. It is for kitchen bath the range is venerable including Kohler, fcml, Pergo, and a host of shops selling imported (Spanish, Italian floor tiles, bathroom concepts and more..). It also has some fine restaurants – China Garden, Chungwa, Ritu Dalmia’s Diva, Ruby Tuesday, Flames to Not just Paranthas, Nathu, Barista, Café Coffee Day, …. A far cry from the days when Anupam was the only restaurant. The only problem in tracking restaurants here is that many start fancifully to close down or move to another line of business.

Location – The market is in the middle of the residential colony. To be precise one should turn in right from Savitri Cinema (the Cinema Hall is closed but the crossing still retains the name!) from the road leading from the Chirag Delhi flyover towards Nehru Place, then the second cut to the left. Approximately 18 kms from Connaught Place

Timing – Closed on Tuesdays. Parking available at Rs. 10/- for cars and Rs. 5/- for two wheelers. Parking is plentiful though choc-a-block full. Restaurants open early especially the cafes while those serving lunch and dinner open during the serving hours.

Highlight - If you are looking at doing up the home – floor, bathroom…this place provides some excellent option and not all heavy on the budget. The shopkeepers & staff do offer sound advice and pocket friendly options. Though discounts are galore. Nalli has excellent range of cottons. About 8 – 10 banks operate as also some well known media companies.

Insider Tip - Sunday is a nice day to visit as all commercial establishments are closed (there are a host of banks) so parking is easy. The choice of restaurants is dizzying offering an excellent spread.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Daryaganj’s Sunday book market


A book lover’s paradise, is how one can term this Sunday book market which is laid out on the pavements of Daryaganj every Sunday morning. From quiz books, old guides, GMAT, GRE books, Engineering books to fiction, pulp, romantic novels and of course coffee table books. How low are the prices? Well basement bargain – books available for as little as Rs. 10/- the only condition, one would have to weed through the mountain to come up with one’s favourite titles. Others range from Rs. 20 to Rs. 200 or more depending on the title and if it is imported. The sellers don’t mind if you weed through the books for sometime and leave without buying. (I often don’t). The book sellers are friendly and offer plenty of tips, advice and even directed me to the shop when I wanted specific titles. If it is not available just request the shopkeeper and he will help you get it. I did lay my hands on some beautiful old rare textile books and fiction (PG Wodehouse).

Location – The market starts on Daryaganj – one branching on the Golcha cinema stretch towards Old Delhi. It occupies a near 1 km stretch here. The other winding inside the first left hand turn after crossing Delhi Gate on Darya Ganj, into Asaf Ali Road. .

Timing – 6:30 – 7 am to 7:30 – 8 pm in the evening on all Sundays provided there are no restrictions from the authorities. This congested area is empty on Sundays when all establishments are closed. Ample space and parking is a breeze!

Highlight - It might be a flea market, but it is organized no doubt, most shops specialize in their offerings. Call it second hand, third hand or even first hand, the find is exhilarating!

Insider Tip - The trick of the trade – a full fledged breakfast, it does provide sustenance to weed through the books and go on to the next vendor with equal enthusiasm. The other virtue - patience to sift through the books. After the search, though there is plenty for fortification – Moti Mahal’s food, ubiquitous juice wallah – Raj Juice Corner for milk shakes and fruit juices, banta seller’s, Bisleri, Fanta and other cold drinks to the Chole Bhature dhabbas…that is another foodie story though!!!.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dolls Museum


Ever want to relive your childhood – visit the Dolls Museum (Shankar’s International Dolls Museum). It transports one back to naïve times of fun and is rejuvenating. Visit with someone who is equally fascinated with dolls, well it is great fun. One can get the history of the place from the Museum itself. To put it simply, it is one man’s love for dolls – yes, K. Shankar Pillai, well known cartoonist, Editor of Shankar’s Weekly and founder of Children’s Book Trust (CBT) was gifted a doll by the Hungarian ambassador in early 1950. He loved it so much that he began seriously collecting costume dolls from various countries he visited. Today, nearly 4000 dolls are on display representing 85 countries. It is the world’s largest collection of costume dolls. Some beautiful pieces belong to the erstwhile Eastern Block. The beauty of the costume dolls is such that it transcends time barriers. What is more attractive is the hand embroidered costumes of the dolls. Each dress detailed to perfection to the last T. Incredibly beautiful, I have spent hours soaking the textile range in!

Location – On Delhi’s fleet street – Bahadurshah Zafar Marg. About 4 kms from Connaught Place.

Timing - 10 am to 6 pm (the ticket counter closes at 5:30 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays and other holidays. Parking is difficult or can be done across the road.

Highlight - Some of the prized dolls include the Kabuki dancers of Japan, Boys Festival and Girls Festival of Japan, Ten pairs of aborigines from Australia, Indonesian dolls….. many received as gifts from visiting dignitaries from the Madame Tito, Queen of Greece to the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi.


Insider Tip - The museum has its own workshop which produces dolls for collectors and connoisseurs. Do visit the book shop also. The Udipi Hotel sells some tasty fare as also the food shop in the subway and a couple of street food vendors of naan / chole.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Antique furniture shopping – Amar Colony furniture market


A second hand furniture market is an antique furniture collector’s paradise. Antique furniture buying through a dealer is interesting, the fun though is poking around in a bazaar like atmosphere with the hope of unearthing an unusual piece. And if stocks keep arriving at the place, the thrill increases. In India, where furniture making has been influenced by the Colonial, Portuguese, Dutch and of course Mughal and the various Indian rules, this market holds out a lot of promise. In my sojourns I have come across consoles, almirahs, bookshelves, ottoman, munim desks…..and more line the road, inside the shop which are perched higgledy piggery. As most dealers tell me again and again that the pieces have been sourced from all over the country – Goa, Kolkata (Calcutta), South or are salvaged from estate sales, embassy auctions and more. The entrance to the market is itself lined with shops where woodwork is on in full swing. The market has 25 – 30 shops run by veterans who have been in the profession for a long time. The atmosphere is thoroughly laid back with no persistent sales push, screaming but a general peaceful calm, giving the buyer ample space to browse through. Apart from the antique pieces, the shopkeepers revel in making reproductions and the range is truly remarkable. Any furniture photograph and it can be replicated to perfection.

Location – Located behind LSR college in Amar Colony. Near the Lajpat Nagar nullah or drain from the Ring Road.

Timing - The market is open on all days – 10:30 – 11 am to 7:30 – 8:00 pm. Parking is literally on the road or in a bylane.

Highlight - The shopkeepers can also help you locate or procure a particular style or period piece. Most shopkeepers have their team of carpenters, polishers, painters who are master restorers. They excel in reproductions.

Insider Tip – The market comes alive on Sundays, when regulars, celebrities descend to hunt for bargains. The shopkeepers are honest and work on a decent commission and the "whopping discount bargaining" is absent. It is easier to get a reproduction made as antiques are difficult to come by and given the lack of space, everything is not displayed. There is no process for dating so it is not possible to know if a piece is a true blue blood antique or vintage or just looks old.

(To buy our Delhi Directory of Furniture dealers with 25 plus names of dealers / shops / boutiques/ craftsmen  in and around Delhi dealing in old, vintage, antique, look alike antiques, furniture in beautiful wood email us at visitors2delhi@rediffmail.com. Each of the person has been carefully chosen and are well known in their fields be it as craftsmen or dealers).