Chandni Chowk, originally meaning moonlit square or market, is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India. Built in 17th century by the great Muslim Emperor of India,Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara, the market was once divided by canals to reflect moonlight, now closed, yet it still remains one of India's largest whole sale markets.
Chandni Chowk is the major street in the walled city of Old Delhi, which was originally called Shahjahanabad. The walled city, which includes the Lal Qila or Red Fort of Delhi, was established in 1650 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was designed by his daughter Jahanara Begum Sahib, who also made significant contributions in the landscaping of her father's new capital.
Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city, from the Lahori Darwaza (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. It was initially divided into three sections:
Lahori darwaza to Chowk Kotwali
(near Gurdwara Shish Ganj): This section closest to the imperial residence, was called Urdu Bazar, i.e., the encampment market. The language Urdu got its name from this encampment. Ghalib noted the destruction of this market during the disturbances of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and its aftermath.
Chowk Kotwali to Chandni Chowk: The term Chandni Chowk originally referred to the square that initially had a reflecting pool. It was replaced by a clock-tower (Ghantaghar) that was damaged and demolished in the 1960s. This section was originally called Johri Bazar.
'Chandni Chowk' to Fatehpuri Masjid: This was called the Fatehpuri Bazar.
It is said that moonlight reflecting on its canal, earned it its name, Chandni (Moonlit).
In the heart of old Delhi's commercial hub, Chandini Chowk, lays a historical landmark since the time of the Mughals - the "Paranthe wali Gali." A very famous street, "Paranthe wali Gali" (‘gali' means street that sells ‘paranthas' - an Indian food delicacy, sort of chapatti) has seen almost three passed centuries.
It houses descendants of the royal chefs of yore who make Paranthas that taste heavenly. So much so, that the Parantha is perhaps the only food in the world to have an entire street named after it!
At the moment there are about 40 varieties of paranthas and these chefs plan to add another 50 varieties in the coming years. The Paranthe wali gali caters only for the pure vegetarian - even no onion and no garlic!