Palika Bazaar – The Underground Market of Delhi

Call it a value for money market, bargain hunters’ haven or illegal and defective stuff selling bazaar with a notorious image, Palika Bazaar of Delhi is an iconic symbol of the capital. Established in the late 1970s during the era of Emergency, it is India’s first underground market and perhaps the first totally air-conditioned marketplace of the country. If you ask old time Delhites they would sure talk about Palika Bazaar with a lot of nostalgia.

Where in Delhi is Palika Bazaar?

Palika Bazaar photo
Entrance to Palika Bazar by dlisbona under CC BY 2.0

The Bazaar which is located between the inner and outer circle of Connaught Place, has more than 350 shops selling diverse range of items. Palika Bazaar is inspired from an old market in Mumbai of the same name. The market has seven entry gates and an underground parking. It is estimated that at any given time the market can accommodate 15,000 people within its confines. It is well connected and can be easily reached using metro, bus or taxi. The nearest metro station to Palika Bazaar is Rajiv Chowk. Palika Bazaar is open from Monday to Saturday 9 am to 9 pm and closed on Sundays.

What all sells at Palika Bazaar?

The huge market caters to a wide array of customers and  offers range of products from cloths, electronic items, perfumes, accessories, gadgets, footwear, watches, cosmetics etc. Most of the products here are not very expensive and one can easily strike good deals, if you have some bargaining skills.

The market is a buzzing place every day with lots of people. You will really need a lot of patience to walk around with the constant cacophony of shop keepers selling their products and buyers bargaining.

While two decades ago, the market was majorly known for its cheap priced electronic items and gadgets, it is now more popular for its tattoo parlours, which are quite popular amongst college going kids.

During the 80s and 90s, the market was also known for its illegal sale of pornography CDs and DVDs, but in this age of online videos, that sure is not available. However, you may just find access to some backrooms of some shops selling sex toys, but one can’t really vouch for their quality.

Things to be aware about when visiting Palika Bazaar

Since the market has a notorious reputation of having been raided by the police many times for number of illegal activities, Palika Bazaar is not exactly a safest market. So you sure need to be a cautious customer here.

  • The shop owners can be very pushy. So don’t feel pressurised to buy any product you don’t need.
  • Spend a considerable time browsing the various shops before making actual purchases so that you can determine the best of the lot.
  • Be firm while bargaining and bargain on almost all products. The shop keepers are smart and will over price their products. Ideally quote 50 % or more bargain. You will sure not regret it.
  • If the shop keeper is not budging, just walk away, this trick always works.
  • Always get proper receipts for your purchases.
  • Please do take care of all your belongings as there are pick-pockets and petty thieves roaming around.
  • Women should be extra careful and it is not advisable to go alone here as the market does have a very bad reputation with a rape case in 2007 and many complaints of eve teasing.

Sadly, the market, which was once a thriving place for Delhites is said to be slowly decaying. It has lost its old time charm with many modern shopping avenues coming up, but it is one of the symbolic place to visit while in Delhi. The New Delhi Municipal Council is working on plans for “regeneration of Palika Bazaar” and hope it does get its much needed revival.

Featured Photo: Entrance to Palika Bazar by dlisbona under CC BY 2.0


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