I live in Bangalore. Shifting to Bangalore from Delhi two years back was a hard decision. I miss a lot of things about Delhi. The lazy rajai-equipped winter mornings, the moomphali-littered battered Dadri buses, the weekly vegetable markets, the Surajkund mela, the steamy momos, the choicest punjabi gaalis, the trade fairs at Pragati Maidan, the bees that sting you when you clean your cooler for the first time before summers, the gol gappas, the chaats and gajar halwa, the fact that you can alter a dress for Rs. 20, the milk vending machines at mother diary, the knitting aunties in the DTC buses, the drive down Rajpath, the sapheda mangoes, the chickoos, the litchies, the fact that you can see the Himalayas after an overnight train journey and the ever bargaining Sarojini market and Dilli Haat.
So when I visited Delhi in the scorching summer month of April, I had already mentally made a list of things I’d do about the things I’d missed. Winters were too far away, so were the trade fair and Suraj Kund mela, the Dadri buses still littered and battered, the vegetable markets still weekly and crowded, the momos, the gol gappas and the chaats still steamy and tasty, the mother diary still vending milk, the aunties still knitting but in the metro, the coolers replaced by AC’s, the drive down Rajpath still breath taking, the Himalayas still an overnight journey away and the markets still temptingly tempting.
Promising myself another visit to Delhi in November during the International Trade fair and in February during the Suraj Kund mela, I decided to visit Dilli Haat, the place where I tasted my first momos and drank my first fruit beer.
Located on Aurobindo Marg, opposite to the bustling mallu-friendly INA market, Dilli Haat is a joint collaboration between the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department. Dilli Haat was set up to promote the Indian handicrafts industry and cuisine. Spread across 6 acres of land, this bazaar showcases a variety of stalls selling handicraft items.
With more than 60 stalls in the bazaar, craftsmen from all over India come here to showcase their products.
The stalls are allotted to the craftsmen for 15 days and is then rotated so that other sellers get an opportunity to exhibit and sell their products. The different kinds of items that are sold in the Dilli Haat include artificial flowers, footwear, earthernware, brassware, sandalwood and rosewood carvings, handloom items, jute, bamboo, wooden, woolen and silk items, and ornaments made out of stones and metal and many more.
And for the foodies, Dilli Haat has a food plaza where you can get to taste the culinary delights from the different parts of India.
Getting to Dilli Haat is much more easier than the times when we had to catch a red line bus to INA market or had to haggle with auto rickshaw drivers or even worse had to find a parking space for your own car at the Dilli Haat parking space. Now you just need to hop onto the metro and enjoy the ride.
There is something about Dilli Haat that pulls you in. As somebody once sang “I keep coming back time after time”.
PS: Good news. A vacant land near the metro station on S V Road is all set to turn into a permanent village fair selling interesting facets of rural Karnataka, that includes art works, handicrafts and food along the lines of Dilli Haat.