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Away to India: Shopping Delhi

A Mosque near Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India

A Mosque near Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India

Mira Nair is currently making movie news with ‘Amelia‘, the Hilary Swank-starring Amelia Earhart biopic that screened on opening night at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, but she really got her first taste of movie stardom as the director of 2001’s Monsoon Wedding.

The film was just re-released by the Criterion Collection, so let’s take a trip to India, to see the Dehli portrayed by the film…

‘Monsoon Wedding’ tells the story of the four days leading up to an extravagant arranged marriage, when family and friend from around the world descend on the bride’s family home. The film was shot-on location in both Old and New Dehli, and it present a rich portrait of the many facets of the Indian metropolis, as well as the complex blend of cultures and languages that make up India today. While most of the film takes place at the Verma family farmhouse on the outskirts of New Delhi, the film features more than 40 locations, here’s a look at a two favorites for shoppers…
Chandni Chowk: A relic from the Mughal empire, Chandni Chowk is one of the city’s oldest and busiest public squares in the heart of the historic Shahjahanabad area. Its name translates to “Moonlit Square”, quite the romantic name for the neighborhood where the film’s frazzled wedding contractor lives. The square was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan — though it’s not as famous as another of his many building projects, the Taj Mahal — in 1650. Delhi is not the easiest city to navigate, though the Metro is clean and fast. You can take Line 2 of the Metro to Chandni Chowk Station or Line 1 to Kashmir Gate for easy access to the square. Enter through the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Along with history, Chandni Chowk serves up a taste of contemporary Indian life. The bazaar features stalls for shopping daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as restaurants where you can taste Indian favorites including doughy paratha flatbread and sweet ras malai. Chandni Chowk is also close to many houses of worship — including a Hindu temple, a Baptist church, a Sikh Gurdwara and two mosques — to experience yet another side of Indian culture. The square recently reappeared on the screen in the 2008 Bollywood film, ‘Black & White,’ directed by Subhash Ghai and starring Anil Kapoor.

Karol Bagh: For a less-touristy side of shopping in Delhi, visit Karol Bagh, a downtown neighborhood known both for its blend of cultures and window shopping that can be accessed on the 3 Line of the Metro. Shoppers can choose from modern (read: air-conditioned) stores, or traverse the tiny alleys to find craftspeople selling their wares. While the film showcases Karol Bagh’s saris, you won’t want to miss the jewelry on offer in the area. Delhi is known for both its silver and its gold, so shoppers looking for a little bling won’t be disappointed.
Photo by Saad Akhtar /Flickr

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