For all the seven years that I lived in NCR, I was a regular visitor to Dilli Haat, like a lot of other Dilliwallahs. There are various reasons that keep you bringing back to the place. It is a kind of cultural hub with a rustic setting in the middle of the maddening crowd of the country’s capital. Being a ticketed place, it is not very crowded most of the days. Little crowded maybe on weekend afternoons in winters and evenings in summers. You get to meet artisans from various corners of the country. Most of whom are national or at least state award winners for their art and craft.
They are given the temporary space to showcase and sell their work to the audience in Delhi. And to a lot of visitors from across the world who may be crossing Delhi. They are typically allocated the space for a period of 2 weeks, which means that every 2 weeks the place changes. You have new artisans with their new offerings. There are paintings, pottery, garments, footwear, furniture, home furnishing, curios, jewelry, and lots of other items. That would be a sheer delight to see even if you do not buy them. Though there are some things that are pretty regular like Madhubani paintings, Kashmir shawls, and clothing materials. But still, you would find a lot of new variations of the same things.
Delhi Darshan – Dilli Haat
To add another dimension of the culture are the food stalls from across the country. Right from northeast food to Rajasthani to south Indian, you would find it all. On given weekends you may find people performing street theater or some folk art form, most of the time in extremely colorful outfits. It usually makes an interesting event to watch. Apart from that you can get henna applied to your palms, get your ear pierced. Do a lot of those small things that you would typically associate with India and you’re being an Indian.
For visitors to India, this place offers a perfect slice of India, a bit of everything. I always found it a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts, especially for my non-Indian friends. Till a few years back the prices used to be pretty reasonable as there was no middleman involved. Artists were selling their products directly to you. But on the recent visit last week, I found that the prices are almost approaching what they would be outside on the market. Not sure if this is a good development or not, but it is a change for sure.
Now what made me write this piece is that during my visit to Dilli Haat last week, I found an electronic touch screen kiosk right in the middle of the market. They had tried to create a hut kind of structure to house this touchscreen. But I felt that the glaring screen was an aberration to the whole environment of this market. The whole rustiness that it exuberates, that earthy feel it generates is suddenly interrupted by an electronic gadget. Whose purpose I fail to understand, as there is hardly any information that kiosk provides. From the format, it appears that it should be providing information about the current cultural and entertainment events happening in the city. Along with the history and other tourist info about the city. But there was hardly any information available.
If someone from Delhi tourism or those from the management of this place is reading this, I would sincerely request them to remove the kiosk. And maybe provide the same information in a more traditional way, by way of books about the history of Delhi and India. Maybe some guides to help visitors plan the itinerary. And maybe some pamphlets about happening events which people can pick up and go. There is a lot of scope for showcasing our creativity that is not high tech and is eco-friendly along with being traditional and aesthetic.
Recommend a visit
All said and done this market remains one of my most favorite places and I would keep visiting it. I wonder why other states have not started replicating this model till now. For those of you who have not visited Dilli Haat, please put it in the must-visit places while in India.
Recommend you to read the following travel blog on Places to visit in Delhi.