The Paharganj or the Main Bazaar has become the most popular place for backpackers

Paharganj or Main Bazaar, Delhi

The look ‘n’ feel of the Main Bazaar or the Paharganj

On first glance the Main Bazaar Delhi or Paharganj may look fishy. Actually on the second glance too. Most of my friends who live in Delhi keep on asking me every time I came to India why on earth am I going there? The Paharganj are slums in the eyes of most Delhiites. The Main Bazaar or Paharganj in Hindi (the hood) is made up of crowded zig zag narrow alleys which are purposely designed to eliminate your sense of orientation, it is one big maze. If I was to compare the most popular area in Delhi for foreign budget travelers to online marketing terminology, I would say that the Main Bazaar is India’s “Landing Page” (at least for northern India). It is rough, extremely dense, no order and you kind of get the idea.

Main bazaar or Paharganj the place where low budget travelers meet up

Paharganj, Delhi
Photo by Oded Keet

Do I love it? YES!

Let me keep on going with online terminology just for one more moment, every single feature of this bizarre, incredible and unexpected Landing Page inside the Main Bazaar is a “call to action”. Eat! Drink! buy some gifts, get a room! Read a book! Book a trip/train/flight, meet other people! Share! And…Buzz off!

Is it effective? YES!

Since the 70s when hippies discovered India the Main Bazaar became the first spot to stop for low-budget foreign travelers. It was enough though for local merchants with their sharp business sense to recognize this golden opportunity. India at that time was in a deep economic depression, just a few years later Indira Gandhi had declared a “state of emergency” and suspended democracy. Poverty rates were sky-high during those years. It was then when the Main Bazaar or Paharganj whatever you want to call it got its first economic boost! For the Paharganj merchants business had to keep on going. They knew what had to be done to keep this place indispensable for low-budget backpackers. The Main bazaar supplied answers for all traveler’s needs.

Dhabas, hotels, Chai shops, internet café, travel agencies all packed in such a small area create the perfect settings for people to exchange ideas share tips and to become travel mates.

Paharganj-Meeting point for travelers

One of the biggest advantages of the Paharganj is that it brings about a unique segment of travelers to the same place. Most of the backpackers staying there intend to visit for relativity quite long periods. Information is a key factor for planning and collecting ideas. The Main Bazaar offers the best place where backpackers can meet up even for travelling together later on. Roof top restaurants, dhabas, hotels, Chai shops, internet café, travel agencies all packed in such a small area create the perfect setting for people to exchange ideas share tips and to become travel mates.

Connectivity

The Main Bazaar is in the city center, well if you consider Connaught place as the heart of Delhi. The Main Bazaar is right at the entrance to New Delhi train station. So the short distance to the train station is quite comfortable, however, you may need to go to some other stations in Delhi depending on where you go to. On the other side of the Main Bazaar or the Paharganj (near the Imperial cinema) is the Rama Krishna Metro Station. From there you can catch a train to wherever you want in Delhi which is very convenient.

Last minute Shopping in the Main Bazaar

A place of transition is always a great point of sales. Duty free, train stations, bus stations etc. People feel that they have to get ready for the road or bring some gifts back home. The Main Bazaar is all about that! Whatever you could think of is for sale and rather cheap. You can find there some very lovely crafts, clothing, accessories, stones, bed sheets, books, spices, music, fortune tellings you name it.

Is the the Main Bazaar only option?

Now having said that, is the Paharganj the only place in Delhi where backpackers can stay? The answer is defiantly no! It’s true that it has some great advantages but if you don’t want to get into the hard-core traveling scene there are few more choices: Other places to stay in Delhi is Connaught place or the Tibetan Colony (north Delhi). Is it worth staying there? Only one way is to check it out!

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