Ask any foreigner where to go for souvenirs, take-home items and gifts, and you'll likely hear :: Dilli Haat.
(Haat means a traditional weekly village market)
As far as shopping goes, Dilli Haat creates a virtual shoppers paradise. Located in the center of Delhi, this bazaar offers a variety of shops selling all sorts of Indian handicraft items.
A joint collaboration between the New Delhi Municipal Corporation and the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department, the basic idea of setting up this crafts bazaar was to promote the Indian handicrafts industry and Indian cuisine. Spread across 6 acres of land, Dilli Haat is situated on Sri Aurobindo Marg, opposite to the INA market.
There are as many as 62 stalls located within the complex. Craftsmen from different corners of India come over here to showcase their products. The products are reasonably priced. The shops and stalls are allotted to the sellers for 15 days and is then rotated so that other sellers get an opportunity to exhibit and sell their products.
The different kinds of items that are sold in the Dilli Haat in Delhi include footwear made from camel skin, brassware, sandalwood and rosewood carvings, handloom items, woolen and silk items, draperies, articles made from stone, ornaments and others. Every product is unique and is a fine example of the skills of the Indian craftsmen.
Apart from these, there are several stalls where you can get to savor Indian food. The Dilli Haat has a food plaza where you can get to taste the culinary delights from the different parts of India. Food festivals are often held over here also from time to time.
Dilli Haat at Delhi can be considered as an upgraded version of the traditional village market. Where on one hand it gives an exposure to the artisans of the country, on the other hand it gives a clear picture of Indian art and culture.
What I love about Dilli Haat is that it is clean, festive, provides a relatively safe and user-friendly experience (meaning strollers can get around, limited steps, etc.) and it's a one-stop-shop for one of the best representations of what's out there as far as handicrafts goes.
One of my favorite things about Dilli Haat is the ability (and almost expectation) to barter and negotiate the prices for the wares you are purchasing.
"1,200 rupees only, ma'am"
"Ah. Hmm. Ok. That is expensive!"
"No ma'am. You are first customer of day. I give you good price! You are first customer!"
"But Rs 1,200 is not a good price for THIS. I know. I live here."
"You live here? From which country do you come?"
"The United States, but I LIVE here now. I know that Rs. 1,200 is not a good price. What price will you give that is better?"
"For you, ma'am. Because I very much love the United States, I will give you BEST price of Rs 1,000."
(now ... dependant on my mood, how hot it is, and how badly I want this particular item, at this point I may give in and purchase. But, if not, then the following discussion ensues)
"I will give you Rs 600 for this. I know where I can get it for that price, but I want to buy from you."
"No ma'am. This is handicraft. I made it myself. It is worth Rs 1,500, but I will give you for Rs 1,000 only."
(I take out Rs. 600 to hand him. He shakes his head no.)
(at this point, I walk away and say "ok - thank you, not today")
then you hear ....
"OHHH-KAY Ma'am. Come."
Bargain price of Rs. 600 !! (this is just an example, and not representative of the price paid for any of the things shown in these photos)
Now, please know that I am fairly well-versed on what the "going rate" is for most of these handicrafts and I will not bargain to the point of ripping anyone off ... nor will I be taken as a sucker. So the balance is there, and the game is played.
(Note :: the Fading Ladies "I'm not a tourist" shirts work REALLY well at Dilli Haat! I'll sell you one if you want to try it out yourself!)
On this particular day, I went to Dilli Haat with Caitlin and I just had to share the photo of her trying on a pair of funky pants (that she didn't end up getting). She provided the giggle of the day for the vendors!
Dilli Haat is open from 10:30pm - 10:00pm. Their "early opening hours" are a huge draw, but note that not all shops will be ready for business until closer to 11:30.
Tuesdays are not the best days to go, as it is the "change over day" when new vendors come in to set up shop.
Entrance is a very reasonable Rs 15 (not even USD $0.40).