A thousand splendid smells at Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest spice market

- November 29, 2023
| By : Shailja Chauhan |

Tucked  inside the chaotic lanes of Chandni Chowk, lies a section of old Delhi solely dedicated to spices and herbs

Lentils and pulses displayed at a shop

Adjacent to the ancient Fatehpuri Masjid, Khari Baoli holds the distinction of being Asia’s largest spice market, offering an extensive array of herbs, spices, nuts, and dry fruits.

As one follows their nose around the mosque, the tantalising aroma of diverse herbs and spices tickles the senses.

According to historical tales, the market was established in the 17th century by Fatehpuri Begum, the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Adorned with a stepped-well-like structure, it was a step-well that was earlier built by the son of Sher Shah Suri, Islam Shah, during his reign.

Home to over 300 shops, it began with a handful of establishments but gradually evolved into Asia’s premier spice hub. Some shops in the market boast a legacy spanning 100 to 200 years, upheld by succeeding generations.

Khari Baoli is a treasure trove showcasing spices and herbs not just from India, but also from around the globe. Here, prices vary based on the quality of these aromatic treasures.

It also specialises in offering bathing products and items integral to religious rituals, such as incense sticks. The historic lanes of Khari Baoli evoke an antique allure at every step, with each shop with a unique specialty and a compelling historical narrative.