The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Delhi's smoggiest zone is worth a visit.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Apart from its dusty lanes, urine stench, potholed roads, blaring horns, there's another reason for not going to Paharganj's Main Bazaar, popular as the backpackers' district. In February, 2009, the Delhi Pollution Committee declared it as the most polluted area in the city.
But if you have no serious lung diseases, The Delhi Walla insist that you should still go to Paharganj. Here's why.
Sarson ka saag with yak cheese
Where else in the city can you get Yak cheese, avocado sandwich, palak paneer, chop suey, kimchi rice, ratatouie, lasagna and enchilada under one roof? Paharganj is dotted with hole-in-the-wall cafes. There you'll find hippies, arty-types, serious tourists, and of course the exotic and inexpensive food.
Kitsch style bags, multi-coloured kaffiyeh, pendants, rings, jackets, second-hand underwears and even leather whips... you get it all in Paharganj. "This is a wholesale market and the maal here goes to Janpath and Sarojini Nagar," says Mr Chandan Kumar, of All India Handicrafts, "where it, of course, gets costlier." Better buy here.
You think that havelis can only be spotted in Old Delhi? Go behind the Imperial cinema and turn left to Tilak Gali. This quiet street boasts stunning havelis. Here it's like being in the walled city, but without the crowd.
Shh, they're reading
Forget Khan Market, it's in Paharganj where you get some of the most exciting books. The kind that are unavailable anywhere else in the city. All thanks to firangi backpackers.
They come with their own books, sell it off to shops here to lighten their load and then we the Delhiwallas buy these paperbacks — for a bargain! Remember, minus a very few exceptions, there are no proper bookstores here. Most books are simply stocked inside cafes and bakeries. Just step in, browse and buy.
Rest is music
Have you ever seen a street-side CD shack selling everything from Pink Floyd to Om Mani Padme chants to Allah Hoo Allah Hoo to lounge music to Hare Krishna bhjans to rave music to Dam Maro Dam to, of course, Jai Ho? Well, come to Paharganj.
Sweet like... jalebi
Paharganj's jalebis are as thick and juicy as Chandni Chowk's, only a little less sweet and a little less costly. Try Karan's stall in the main bazaar. The Delhi Walla thinks that his jalebis are the best.
Maybe, some hippy necklace?
Smoggy and smoking
The haveli street
Rest is music
J for Jalebi
Street side lounging
Time for books
More cafe people
Lonely Planet Paharganj
We're loving Paharganj