Red Fort is one of the most lucrative tourists and historical destinations in the national capital. The fort packs in the rich and vibrant past of Delhi under its Mughal rule. It has now been crafted in such a way that it is home to museums, shopping squares and much more. The famous Chhatta bazaar at the fort, an eyesore till very recently, is being overhauled and soon, it will be a reminder of its glorious past.

Why the overhaul?

The historic Red Fort enjoys pride of place in our cultural heritage and is an international tourist destination. The market in the fort, Chhatta Bazaar, once the shopping destination of kings and consorts, has been a flourishing shopping destination for many. Over the course of many, many years, it has lost its charm and appeal.

Once the renovation is complete, the market will take you back in time. As part of the renovations, shopkeepers are doing away with heavy shutters and replacing them with wooden frame doorways lined with Mughal-style arches. Additionally, the ceiling has also been cleaned up to reveal some of the most intricate and beautiful artwork in Mughal history. This took up almost a year to be restored. The goal is to bring the bazaar aesthetically closer to its 17th-century look.

The renovation efforts are largely being funded by the group of the 47 shopkeepers here and it was their own initiative to restore the market to its former glory. Upkeep of the project and overseeing it is being done by ASI (Archeological Survey of India). Each shop owner has paid up to a lakh for the project. The shop owners here are direct descendants of the original owners from the Mughal era, hence their enthusiasm to see the market boom once again.

What’s special about the market?

The market not only holds historical relevance, but also cultural and heritage relevance. Each of the shops specializes in handicrafts, gems, garments, scarves, silk brocade, silverware and deal in everything that was special in the Mughal era. Through their products, they wish to bring back the charm of the Mughal era to the masses.

Has it brought about a change?

Initially, shop owners were skeptical about the project and the fact that they would have to shell out money from their pockets. Since the renovation was completed in a few stores, owners have stated that it has actually increased the number of visitors to their shops and that people visit here for more than just shopping. They visit to take in the aura, the vibe and the atmosphere of a world that once was. Since the bazaar is in a central location to get to the main fort or the museums, people have begun appreciating the efforts and tend to stop to see the market and what it offers.

The charm of Old Delhi has been one of the most alluring draws of the capital city. With the renovation to the market and the recent opening of the museums, it has once again become a major hotspot that will not only attract history buffs but also shoppers, enthusiasts and tourists.

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