Established in 1951, the Khan Market has successfully held on to its original essence even in the face of rapid modernization.
It was originally designed as a local neighbourhood market with some residential units for the people living nearby. By the beginning of the 21st century, following a pattern of rapid growth and improvements, the Khan Market had transformed into one of Asia's most expensive retail high street markets.
The moment you enter the market, you'll start to feel the beauty and essence of this market. The architecture has that distinct feel of Lutyens' Delhi. The Khan Market, popular among diplomats and Delhi's influential, is known primarily for its fashion boutiques, unique bookstores, opticians, homewares, and cafes.
I have been coming to the market since I was 10 (that would be a decade and a half ago) and a lot has changed since then, but one thing that hasn't changed is my love and affection for this place. It is still the same. I must say that every time I visit this market my excitement level is very high.
It was a lovely winter day, sneak peeks of the sun were there, strong wind and beautiful Christmas decorations were happening in the market. Like every time, I was happy and excited as if it was my first time at the market.
I clearly remember that I wore my favourite sweater, my favourite shoes and took a long stroll at the market. The one main memory that I have from my childhood is the Mehra electronics shop at the corner. For me, that shop is the landmark at Khan Market because I don't even remember from how long I have been seeing this shop.
Mehra electronics are amongst the oldest shops in the Khan Market. They have a wide variety of high tech gadgets and household electronics. Surinder Pal Mehra, the owner of the shop, told me that his shop was established in 1973 and since then, he has been running the shop.
"My dad started this business here; at first, they were into different types of business, later on, they decided to open this Mehra electronics", he says.
While walking straight from the Mehra electronics, you'll encounter two of Delhi's favourite heritage bookshops, Faqir Chand and sons, and after a few steps, there is Behrasons. These two shops are very well-known, due to their long existence in the market. If you are looking for the best books of all kinds, especially the classics, no other place is better than these two. In short, these bookstores are a paradise for all book lovers. Between these two shops, a passage leads to the street market, or I should say a little cheaper lane than the rest of the market.
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Walking down the lane, on the left side of the wall, you'll see multiple international or national magazines are resting on the wall, from vogue to the cosmopolitan and bazaar to harper. The shopkeeper has all the varieties; you could even get a classic vogue collection from the late '80s. If you are a magazine lover, you should definitely visit this place.
Once you cross the passage, you'll be at the central lane. This lane is the cheapest in the entire Khan Market. Cosy slippers, woollen sweaters, tracksuits, suits and whatnot. Here, you can find yourself a mobile cover at every nook and corner. On offer here is a lot, from hairbands to clips, pendants to earrings, everything at much cheaper rates. Bring your bargaining skills with yourself if you'll be shopping at this place because shopkeepers at the central lane are very stubborn with their prices but will relent when faced with a strong and relentless bargainer.
Khan Market sees hundreds of locals and tourists throng its lanes every day. Cafes are one of the best aspects of this neighbourhood. Whether you want a relaxing cup of coffee or a sumptuous meal, the restaurants in this area have it all.
Big chill cafe in Khan is amongst the most popular cafes for the Delhiites. You'll always see a waiting line here. It is by itself a reason for many to visit Khan market. Its shakes, pasta, pizzas, and other utterly delicious dishes are worth your penny. There are many other cafes worth exploring in the market. Perch Wine, Coffee and Bar is renowned for its exquisite range of wines, coffee and cocktails. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, located in the heart of Khan Market, also offers an exciting range of coffee that is every coffee lover's dream come true. You can also add chocolate, whipped cream, and a caramel swirl to your cup of coffee.
For all the sweet tooth lovers, nothing beats a good cake for lifting one's spirits. The taste, the aesthetic, and the process as a whole is a win-win situation on all fronts. I would like to enlighten you with some of my best bakeries in town. L' opera, Big Chill Cakery and Laudree bakery. Laduree, is a 159-year-old French bakery, that opened its first India outlet in Delhi's Khan Market, after making its mark in 25 countries around the world. Laduree, founded in 1862, is synonymous with macarons worldwide, being one of the world's best-known sellers of the double-decker macaron.
Khan market is also quite famous for its expensive boutiques and clothing stores. It will feel like a breath of fresh air. The scene here is much less chaotic than Chandni chowk or Sarojini Nagar. Also, it is packed full of small boutiques just begging for attention. All the stores looked beautiful as they were decked up with beautiful Christmas decorations. Everything looked a festive green, red, golden and glittery.
If you are a fan of European colour, these boutiques have tons of such tones; you'll probably love every bit of it. This place has a different aura. Boutiques like Ritika Bhasin, Label by Ritu Kumar, Ranna Gill, Anupamaa, Manan AM: PM by Ankur & Priyanka Modi and many more stores to explore. It is like clubbing together multiple designers and myriad fabrics and textiles inside one place.
Last but not least, the U shaped area at Khan market, popularly known as the parking area side, has international cosmetic shops like Nykaa and Kiehls. Here, you can shop for international cosmetics, perfumes and whatnot.
One of the best parts about this market is the fresh, colourful and exotic looking veggies and fruits sold here. In addition, the grocery stores here sell a lot of imported stuff too, which is one reason why Delhi's diplomatic crowd throngs here.
Exotic fruits and vegetables, meat, dips, cereals, sauces, and grains line the shelves. I saw plenty of Perrier, fresh grapefruits, perfect-looking avocados, asparagus, marmite, and a variety of dips, including salsa sauces and peanut butter. If you're in the mood to cook, I highly recommend stopping here. There's Arborio rice so you can make a mean risotto, a variety of cheeses (Camembert, Brie, or good ol' mozzarella), whipping cream, and whole-wheat pasta.
If you're a meat-and-potatoes fan, pick up some Kraft BBQ dipping sauce for some extra nom-nom-noms.
With all the jingle bell vibes as Christmas countdowns are finally shortening, we can almost smell the celebrations in the air, it's the season of giving. We can't wait for Christmas decorations, cakes, treats, lights, fairs, and, of course, our own trees and socks.
In the centre of the market, you won't be able to get your sight away from this beautiful decked store with huge varieties of beautiful Christmas decorations hanging all over the shop. Kirti Creations sells everything from Christmas trees, pine cone tea light holders to Christmas tree decorations shaped like musical instruments, Santa hats, teddy bears, and other glittery trinkets.
For me, Khan Market is Delhiites favourite place to hang out. So I would advise you to visit it this Christmas season, and explore, shop, eat and repeat.