Daryaganj Book Market: A Writer's Elysian

As fond as Daryaganj Book Market grew over the years to many readers' and book lovers' disappointment, the Daryaganj Book Market was shut down during August first week, 2019. Over half a century worth of memories and pages that changed lives, the Daryaganj Book Market had definitely served its purpose before becoming a "no-hawking zone". The Delhi High Court declared the Market shut as the line of vendors across the market impeded traffic and pedestrian movement. However, over weeks of squabble and conversations with the local vendors Daryaganj Book Market has decided to return. 

About Mahila Haat

Mahila Haat Book Market
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Daryaganj Book Market has now been relocated to Mahila Haat, situated opposite to the Broadway Hotel in Chandini Chowk. Mahila Haat aims to uphold and preserve the Daryaganj Book Market tradition by hosting a range of wide open-air hut-like stalls where visitors could book-surf at their own pace without any traffic nuisance. A former marriage hall and private function venue, Mahila Haat is the new Daryaganj Book Market.

How to Reach Mahila Haat 

Mahila Haat is closer compared to Daryaganj. You could reach the book house in less than half an hours via car. The fastest driving route would be via Outer Ring Road as it would consume around 20 minutes without unexpected traffic. However, taking a bus from Delhi to Mahila Haat would be approximately an hour and a half depending on if the route goes through the Blue Line or the Red Line.  

Daryaganj Book Market - The End of An Era

Daryaganj, also known as the River Neighbourhood, was a part of former Shahjahanabad. Formerly known as Faiz Market under the Mughal empire, Daryaganj used to lie by river Yamuna. A posh commercial complex with beautiful gardens and markets, the market carried traces of the previous centuries. Daryaganj was a prominent must-visit for not just bibliophiles but history buffs as well.

A Bibliophile Paradise

book bazaar, Daryaganj book market
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Any mention of Daryaganj was incomplete without talking about the famous Sunday Book Bazaar. From hard-to-find classics to food and drama-critique journals of the 17th century, the book bazaar is a dearly held memory. Across the stacks of dusty books, some rare gems such as a discontinued Urdu film magazine, the Blitz drew much attention. Also known as Kitab Bazaar, Daryaganj market was started in 1964. A journey through humble beginnings, Daryaganj catered to over 250 book vendors who put up stalls on the pavement from Daryaganj Bazar to Netaji Subhash Marg.

Weekends were not a disappointment either. With multitudes of bookshops at Daryaganj selling books for 500 per kilogram, Daryaganj was a supportive foundation, primarily to expand personal libraries. Daryaganj not only hosted second-hand novels but bunches of children's books, colouring books, biographies, quiz books, memoirs, coffee table books, Mangas, comics, self-help, encyclopaedias, books for competitive exams and ancient books by obscure writers. 

Daryaganj Book Market Stationeries

stationery, daryaganj book market
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Daryaganj book market sells was the ultimate go-to for everything under the sun for the next DIY project. Brushes, sketch pens, glue, art pencils, watercolours, oil paints, the coveted crayons- you name it, they housed it. Moreover, the essentials available here were either at throwaway prices or way cheaper than other stores. Daryaganj also held bundles of photo papers, sketch books, diaries, files, folders and journals.

Unique Surprises

Old calendars, shopping in daryaganj
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Daryaganj Book Market is a treasure trove of historical objects that have survived their owners. One could find old calendars and paintings that once adorned some old bungalow in Delhi. One of the vendors, Nitin Jain, even treasures an old photo album for sale, belonging to a forgotten family that lived in cities like Cambridge and Ahmedabad. One could even find strange items like a manicure toolset for a dirt-cheap price.

Foodie's Delight

Street food, shopping in Daryaganj book market
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The food corner at Daryaganj Book Market was a reviving space especially after, a tedious morning of strolling, stumbling, haggling and buying books. Serving most the preserved cuisine of Old Delhi, Moti Mahal was one of the eateries here. The oldest and first restaurant of Delhi, Moti Mahal it was founded by Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Das Mago and Kundan Lal Gujral. The food joint was famous for (and even given credit for its invention) its Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. You could also try different cuisines at Chor Bazaar near Delite cinema for Kashmiri cuisine. Devi Ke Kulche, Baniyaan of Gupta Ji and Pindi ka Dahi were some of the famous food stalls here.

Breakfast at Jeha Caterers, fondly known as Sardarji Puri Chola wale and the historic Samose Wali Dukaan, a dish that went back the time of independence were some of the highlights of the place. Daulat ki Chaat and Guptaji Ki Mashoor Pav Bhaji were also very famous among Delhites.

Daryagunj Book Market
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In the age of growing technology, where the smell of old books fades away in time, Daryaganj held up this experience as a treasured souvenir. It kept readership and the mere love for prose alive. Mahila Haat now continues the Daryaganj Book Market legacy. Drop by this new location to learn more about this book house that never dies!

This post was published by Gauranshi Saran

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