Delhi has an enviable history amongst most metros in India. It is home to the most stunning historical monuments built across centuries by various rulers that controlled Delhi. But overtime this city has lost the respect that it deserves. You know, the famous poet Mir Taqi Mir once said
“Dil va Dilli dono agar hai kharaab; Pa kuch lutf us ujde ghar mein bhi hain”
( Both heart and Delhi may have been worn out, But some little pleasures still remain in this ruined house)
And this couplet resonates so much with me. Having left the city for so many years now my love for the pleasures (“shopping”) in Delhi is intact. There are so many places and so many things to bring back home but top of my shopping destinations is Dariban Kalan (Jewellers’ street) in Chandni Chowk. I love going back to Chandni Chowk for one thing or another and every visit is full of discoveries and stories. In this blog I’ll share about my discoveries in Dariba
Reaching Dariba Kalan
The easiest way to reach here is to either take a cab all the way to Gurdwara Sisganj Sahib or to take a metro to Chandni Chowk and then walk to Sisganj Sahib (There’s a short cut from the station that passers by can guide you to) The lanes are really narrow everywhere so don’t get alarmed, the key is to follow the crowd 😉 Trust me that works
So when you are near Sisgunj Gurdwara, just a few steps from there is the famous Jalebi Wala (Please start your trip by snacking here . The jalebis off course! but do try the ‘matar samosas’ and you wont regret the extra calories) This is where Dariba Kalan begins. This lane goes all the way to Jama Masjid and its quite a walk.
The Street of the Incomparable Pearl
Dariba originated from a Persian word ‘Dur-e be-baha’ meaning ‘unparalleled pearl. A street where the Mughal era found silver trinkets and exquisite stones. It’s now home to most jewellery wholesalers in Delhi. The prices are off course unparalleled when compared to anywhere else.
Exploring Dariban Kalan
As soon as you enter you will see jewellery shops everywhere. But my most favorite store there is Ram Parkash Vinod Kumar Jewellers ! I have picked some fabulous pieces from here and recommended this place to friends and family many a times. They have such an amazing collection of silver jewellery and they custom design too (that is if they think you are a serious jewellery buyer). They keep everything from silver ornaments (new and antique) to artifacts in silver. The show window itself is loaded with all sorts of silver stuff
There are silver ornaments, ornate candelabras, chalets in silver and a host of other articles. They can also gold plate stuff on demand and do customizations too. Among other things, I’ve picked up a few pairs of studs from here, that I used to make some ear rings. Each coupled with a different stone looked fantastic.
Apart from these I picked up a few silver pendants, earrings and bangles from this store in my numerous visits.
One thing that I simply loved at Ram Parkash is a chain of silver buttons. Long ago in college I’d bought a single German silver button that I used to tuck onto my cotton kurtas. It broke a few years later and I always missed that particular accessory. Lo and behold I found this beautiful button chain that looks fabulous on everything that you tuck it on to. The designs are ethnic and simply stunning. A lovely piece of ornament to cherish and pass on to younger sisters or daughters.
You can also find jewellery with glasswork encased in silver here. Ear rings, rings and bangles too if you are lucky. The key is to explore and spend as much time as you can in each store. Don’t get overwhelmed with stuff on display. Always ask for more designs and the best stuff would always be tucked inside boxes that come out only if you prod enough 😉
As you walk along Dariba the stores all around are a sight for sore eyes. There are lots that will look similar and there are all sorts of ornaments on offer but you should just look at the store window and if it looks interesting enough, you may check it out. It’s a lot of trial and error and I’ve actually checked out tens of stores there. The silver purity varies from piece to piece as well so best is to enquire upfront about it. Most shop-keepers will tell you if it’s an alloy.
There are lots of stores offering latest costume jewellery designs as well and at far better rates than anywhere else. There’s a by lane called ‘Kinari Bazaar’ that sells lace and other accessories by the loads. At the beginning of Kinari lane is a little store on the corner that has a great collection of costume jewellery at unbeatable prices. I’ve picked up a pair of beautiful kundan chandbaalis from here among other things.
Dariba also has a lot of shops that sell great packaging material like boxes etc for trousseau gifting. But these stores are not exclusive to this market, you can find this stuff all over Chandni Chowk.
In my many trips to this enchanting place, I have tried to see as many stores as possible and picked up stuff that isn’t easily available everywhere. The reasonable pricing off course is the icing on the cake. I’ve even found a store that sells beautiful temple jewelry jhumkas (gold plated). And just a few steps from here I found another store selling modern jewellery handcrafted in silver alloy.
I also found this beautiful coin pendant that I strung together with blue agates and some ethnic silver beads to make this necklace for a custom order. The finish of the piece is quite nice and the silver is of very good quality.
Overall Dariba spoils one for choices. From traditional silver, gold plated silver and costume jewellery to trendy fashionable pieces, anything and everything is found here at the most reasonable prices.You can try bargaining in a few stores but most stores will not slash the prices, especially for pure silver pieces.
I think every woman, who loves jewellery, should visit this place. It’s the Mecca equivalent for jewellery shopping in Delhi and nothing else matches the spirit of this place. Having seen so many local markets all over India, I can safely say that this place is a class apart. So if you are in Delhi and wish to add some sparkles to your wardrobe or maybe just want to feel the air of the old Delhi Bazaars this is the place to visit!