Eight hour layover shopping spree in New Delhi

Many travelers transit through New Delhi, and most chose to stay in the airport. Why not make a quick hop into the city and get some great deals on scarves and other goods. 

Delhi is a city of contrast; from extreme poverty and chaos masses dwelling to the most techno and fashion trendy modern population.  If you have 8 hours, you have time to take the metro to Paharganj, with its bazaar and lively alleys. The whole area is big chaotic of everything; eclectic crowds mixed with all kinds of vehicles, animals, street vendors, shops with the content spilling over the sidewalks. It will empower the occasional visitor with its  smells, visuals, noise and the seemingly absence of space. If you have little bit more time then you visit Connaught place, to see the other side of India, the burgeoning middle class striving around Connaught place. Follow this guide and enjoy a quick shopping spree in Delhi!

 

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This is New Delhi (around New Delhi railway station)

 

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This is also New Delhi (Connaught Place inner circle)

Getting There is so easy and cheap

1- From the airport, take the Express Metro. It is only 20 min into town and costs 50 rupees (1$). You avoid the traffic jam. You can reach the Metro right outside the airport exit. Get out the main doors (international arrivals), turn right and follow the signs for Metro.
2- Get off at the terminus, New Delhi station. Follow the directions for “Yellow Line”. It is a long underground walk. Don’t worry, you will get there!
3- At the exit, go up the blue escalator facing you (there is a security check) and cross all the railway station 16 platforms to the other end.

 

general map

 

Survival TIP 1: DO NOT follow the sign for the railways station when exiting the metro. It will lead you to a very confusing place you don’t want to be. Follow the signs for the “Yellow Line”.

Survival TIP2 : DON’T LISTEN TO anybody approaching you. Don’t let any touts lead you astray, don’t listen to their lies about the road being blocked or the area being forbidden. None is true. And don’t ask directions from them. They are ferocious and will follow you until you give up. 

 

pg insideoutside

 

Paharganj; A plunge into India 

The Main Bazar road is right across the street from the railway station's main entrance. It is a one km long of sensory overload and shopping craziness. There is enough here to keep you busy many hours. It is quite touristic, but enter any side alley and you are plunged into deep real India. You can safely get lost there in the narrow alleys, where you get a glimpse of Indian daily lives of families living there. Main roads are never far away and you are always a few minutes tuk-tuk ride back to the metro station.

TIP 1: shops open late in the morning, between 10am and 11am. If you arrive early, get a breakfast in one of the many dhabas across the street from the railway station.

TIP2: conversely, shops stay open until late at night. After 7 pm the whole area can be very chaotic. Too much for some. So this is the time to retire to find a quiet rooftop restaurant to end the evening. But watch out for the last metro to Airport, at around 11pm. 

 

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Shopping heaven for very cheap scarves 

The first half of Main Bazar road from Railway station to around Hari Piorko hotel is mostly garment and accessory stores, then it gets more touristic, with many souvenir shops and eateries. Along the way there are few shops selling scarves. It is the perfect place to load on cheap dollar cotton and synthetic scarves. In the photo above I could not at first glance tell if he was selling scarves or towels. After a closer look, I realized he was selling both! 

 

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The seller in the hole in the wall pictured above had some scarves for 60 rupees. At this price expect very low quality cotton or chinese acrylic products. The verdict; don’t expect to buy real pashmina or any genuine work of art so don't spend more than a few hundred of rupees on scarves in Paharganj.

 

 

dhaba2

 

Where to eat: try a real local dhaba

Towards the end of the road, there are a few dhabas, a cafeteria style restaurant popular with locals and great for fresh cheap authentic food. I recommend the popular Swagat Dhaba; it is clean and the food is fantastic. They have true tandoori roti (flat bread cooked in barbecue oven) at 5 rupees a piece (10 cents) or 6 rupees with melted butter. I take with butter! Try for the yummy punjabi dal makhani (black dal), at 60 rupee.

. They have true tandoori roti (flat bread cooked in barbecue oven) at 5 rupee a piece (10 cents) or 6 rupee with melted butter. I take with butter! Try for the yummy punjabi dal makhani (black dal), at 60 rupees.

 

dhaba roti

 

Shopping around Connaught Place

If you have more time, go to Connaught Place, 1 km south. It is totally different world, showing off the other side of India. Connaught place, known as CP by locals, is a huge circular roundabout, with white colonial styles buildings with many pillars. Many expensive brand name stores, side by side with some street vendors.

 

cp banana

 

Getting there

You will either start from the end of Main Bazar road or from New Delhi station. Either way it is a just over 1 km to the roundabout. You can take the metro, but it will take longer. Better just walk than fight to buy the 9 rupee token then figure out the right train to take, and then figure out the right exit at CP. Or take a tuk-tuk, 50 to 80 rupee, to the inner circle. 

Connaught Place is round and round and round. It is divided in blocks with letters and inner circles. Bring a map! (or turn on mobile gps if you have). Radial roads are numbered from 1 to 7. If you walk from railways station, you will be on radial 4. If you walk from north of Main Bazar road, you will be on radial 3.

TIP : When looking for tuk-tuk or directions, ask for “CP’. (see-pee) It is short, straightforward and all the locals call it this way.

 

Around the circles

Walk around the inner circle. You will find many famous brand names stores, fast food chains, nice restaurants, bars and cafe’s. Good place to rest from hectic Delhi. But this not a place to buy scarves and souvenirs. There are a few shop selling saris, but it is not worth buying there. Better go down to Janpath market. Same with the occasional street vendors offering their ward. It will most likely be synthetic fakes and very high price.  

But DO STOP at radial 3 intersection to order one of the famous shakes, with or without ice cream, available in many flavors. There is always a crowd there. It is a fun a refreshing stop. 

 

cpshake

 

Palika Bazar

You can hope into Palika Bazar, between radial 1 and 2. It is a famous clothes market, both underground and outside. Go through the security check at any of the dark staircase entrance that looks like a dungeon entrance, and it will lead you to the underground market, that also looks like a dungeon. Most shops have fixed prices, items are well displayed and best of all it air conditioned. Good deals can be found for clothes, bags and gadgets. Don't come here to buy scarves. There is one shop that may sell scarves, but it is not worth to check out. You have so many more options elsewhere.  

TIP: Know what you are looking for. Palika bazar is not a place for window shopping; if you are a white westerner, the constant shouting “excuse me” by shopkeepers trying to catch you can be annoying.

 

Janpath market & stalls

For cheap quality scarves, go down radial road 1 to Janpath street. There are many street vendors, a market area, and a series of over 50 numbered stalls lining up the street on the right side. Those stalls are the best place for souvenir shopping. There are many scarf sellers and most have fixed prices. Many manufacturers and wholesalers have a stall here, and with some luck you will even meet the owner who can tell you all about their products in an honest and straightforward way.

 

cp janpath

 

Government Emporiums

You want an expensive “real” pashmina? Go down radial road 2 (Baba Singh Road) until you reach the last outer circle, to the government emporium. Most states of India have a shop here; they are clean, well laid out and items displayed fixed prices. It is a good place to learn more about the variety of cultures in this country and their local arts and crafts. Prices are a bit higher than in the street but you do get some guarantee you are not buying made in China fakes as you would in touristic stall. This also gives you a guideline what are the proper prices. For pashmina, go to the Kashmir store. Prices there are still good, cheaper than in any stores in Western countries, and you do get quality products.

 

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From CP or Paharganj take a tuk-tuk straight back to railway station then the metro to the airport to rest. You have seen Delhi! Allow lots of time for the way back to the airport. 

Can't travel to Delhi but you want the best quality cashmere pashmina out there? Visit our online store now.

 

 

 

 

 

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