Shah Jahan's Chandni Chowk is still a bustling hangout

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William Dalrympl’s books, based in Mughal Delhi, suggest that cultural life was particularly vibrant during the nights and Old Delhi’s famous market place, Chandni Chowk, is a living example. Meaning "moonlit square" or "moonlit market", this thronging market was built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara. The market was once divided by canals (now closed) to reflect moonlight.

The variety of stuff you can find here is eye-popping; after all this market has been around for more than three centuries and was once visited by merchants from Turkey, China and Holland. You could lay your hands on anything from curios and souvenirs, to pearl, gold and silver jewellery, natural perfumes (attar), spices, amazing fabrics and embellishments, electronics and medicines.

Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city, from the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid. Originally, a canal ran through the middle of the street as a part of the water supply scheme. With the famous Jama Masjid mosque, built in 1650, in the vicinity, it is an unusual street that has several famous religious shrines, belonging to different religions, that coexist peacefully.

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