Open-air, ethnic, vibrant, affordable, and entirely dedicated to handcrafted products, Dilli Haat is the capital’s attempt at recreating a village ‘haat’ (Local market-cum-fair). On an average day, you can find Kashmiri pashmina shawls, Assamese bamboo furniture, Madhubani paintings, Tamil Nadu’s bronze icons, Rajasthani bedcovers, Odia Saris, Bhagalpuri silks, Nagaland’s jewellery…all invitingly displayed in and around numerous small kiosks. The song you hear may be emanating fom the retro bioscope or could be a group of Manganiyar folk singers in action. You may sit for your portrait or get Mehandi applied. Most of all, you could pick-and-choose your way through food stalls, representing about 25 states of India.
Since 1994, Dilli Haat is the city’s permanent crafts bazaar, run on a rotating basis, with licenses given to craftspeople for 15 days, the wares thus change every fortnight, but there is always enough of a variety to meet everyone’s shopping needs.
For visitors, the place is particularly useful for gifts and souvenirs, Apart from craftspeople – and the periodic showcasing of nationally awarded ‘master craftsmen’ – Dilli Hatt also gives space to NGOs that help promote sustainability among disadvantage groups, such as rural women. Ready-to-wear apparel.knitted sweaters, socks and mufflers, painted lampshades, artificial jewellery and embroidered bags are thus almost always at hand. While bargaining in the norm-remember that the person you are negotiating with is an artist who has labored over the product, not a middleman.
Laden with your shopping bags, makeyour way to the food stalls. Sikkim with its momos and thupka, Rajasthan and its specialty gate ki sabzi, Nagaland’s pork thali and Andhra Pradesh’s Hydrabadi biryani are just a few of the highlights. Watch out for seasonal specialties like aam ka panna, kulfi-faluda or chuski in summer and warm yourself with a Kashmiri kahwa in winter, but only after dowing make di roti and sarson da saag. If tired of the inevitable spice-and-oil flavours of India, try the organic food café Navdanya with its nourishing, multi-grained, home-made appeal.
Rushed for time? Dilli Haat has a small souvenir shop that carries representative items from the goodies described above.
Also, don’t neglect to choose from the delicious variety of pickles and churans on display at an open-air stall towards the back.