If you have visited Old Delhi, then Khari Baoli, the biggest spice market in Asia is not unknown to you. It is actually a street in Old Delhi that is situated close to the Red Fort adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid, which is on the western end of Chandni Chowk. It is not only a wholesale market for spices that benefits locals, but is also a common tourist destination in Old Delhi. It’s a unique experience for anyone to see huge quantities of spices being loaded, carried and unloaded simultaneously in the shops.
Here are seven interesting facts about Asia’s Biggest Market, Khari Baoli, you should know:
History says that the spice market in Delhi started in the 17th century and has continued till date! This market is situated around Fatehpuri Masjid which was built in the year 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of the wives of Shah Jahan. The name, Khari Baoli, has certain significance here – Baoli means a step well whereas Khari or Khara means salty. It was therefore a salty water step well used for bathing and for animals. But, that is history now, because none of them exist and it is here that the market stands.
There are few shops which have still maintained the names – “Chawal Wale 13”, “21 Number ki Dukaan”, “15 Number ki Dukaan” and many more since the time from when they were first set up. These trades are continued by the ninth or tenth generations now. Not only is the bazaar as a whole ancient, but, each and every shop in it spells history.
Millions of traders accumulate in a single bazaar to carry on with their trade – and this has been going on for quite some time. On the face it might appear shabby and disorganized, but if you consider the number of traders and what worth they trade each day, then, you will realize that this place is highly organized and trade happens following a strict orderly system.
Asia’s biggest spice market allows you to choose from a variety of spices both local as well as exotic. There are shopkeepers who will proudly tell you about the origin of certain spices. Some have prunes and dried mulberries which are bought from as far as Afghanistan and some have dried plums bought from nearby home, Kashmir. You will be mesmerized once you enter the market with the sight of various spices and dry fruits accompanied with a rich smell of each. Here are few of the spices that you will get among millions – chili, nuts, unrefined spices, grains, unrefined pink salt, black salt, pulses, rice, herbs, dry fruits and grains of diverse shapes and colours.
In between shops containing heavy spices you will come across some which have ‘khoya’ (milk solid) used for making sweet delicacies. They make it in huge quantities and make three different grades of khoya which serve three different purposes. The one which is solid in structure is used for making ‘barfi’ and the ones which are not as solid, much looser, are used for making Indian sweets like milk cake and ‘rasgulla’. You will also come across ‘jaggery’ which is very useful for your body. You can get all kinds of it.
Well, you will get a good deal of ‘reetha’ which is excellent for hair and if mixed with the herb ‘shikakai’ makes hair extremely shiny and beautiful. Grab some of it if you want to try an absolutely natural remedy for your not-so-good hair. It works wonders. Also Ayurvedic herbs and medicines are available a great deal. They will appear to as fossils but are actually rare herbs and medicines which are actually very good remedies for certain diseases.