The first and only time I went to Chandni Chowk was with a bunch of my guy friends to eat at Karim’s. It was hands down the best meat I’ve ever had, by the way. Melted in the mouth! Yum. Anyway, I remember walking around with my 5-6 guy friends surrounding me from all sides, so I felt quite safe and didn’t have to bother with anything.
This Saturday, my mother wanted to go to CC with me. It was just going to be the two of us. Honestly, I was not very comfortable with the idea – since I have this wonky image of Chandni Chowk and all it’s shady men. My mother rubbished my concerns, and said we’re going just by ourselves. No bodyguards, mother? Are you sure? “Stop acting like a 5-year-old” is all I got in return.
Now, I know this is not what you’ve come here to read, but I must tell you what I wore to Chandni Chowk. Any place that I consider shady, I believe I must wear a salwar suit to. I just cannot feel comfortable in t-shirt and jeans; I need to be in a suit. So, I wore the most rubbish suit I owned, with Converse shoes. Yes. An Indian suit with Converse on my feet. Mother said there’s wet mud everywhere, and the pathways are uneven so better to wear closed shoes. So…yes, that’s what I wore as I went shopping for my wedding lehenga – every mother’s dream.
Another thing you should know about Chandni Chowk – there are these people called “dalaals”. Once you enter Chandni Chowk, they will come running to you saying “madam, come to xyz shop – they have beautiful wedding lehengas and saris”. These guys get a commission if they take you to a shop. Ideally, do NOT go with them to any shop. They may be hard to ignore, but ignore you must. If you know the names of the shops you want to visit, get their phone numbers from JustDial and give them a ring. They’ll usually send a guy from their shop to meet you at a certain location, and he’ll walk you to their shop. Best way to get there without a dalaal’s help, and without getting lost.
First stop – Tek Chand Arjit Singh
When you enter any Chandni Chowk shop, you must take off your footwear at the entrance. You sit cross-legged on mattresses and the salesman displays the clothes to you on that mattress itself. Tek Chand was, in my opinion, just an ok shop. Their collection was very average, and too much chamki (bling). They did show me a lot of lehengas which were Sabyasachi-style, in their own words. The range started from around 20-25,000. They didn’t have a lot of color variety in the lehengas. What I mean is, if I liked the look of a certain lehenga, I might want to see it in some other colors. But they didn’t have other colors to show, they just kept saying that we can make it in any color you want. I did not even like the colors they were suggesting – eg. Carrot colored lehenga! Doesn’t look appetizing either.
Unfortunately, the air-conditioning in their shop was not functioning extremely well and it was so hot that I left without draping all the lehengas I had chosen to look at – trying on heavy lehengas in that heat was killing me, I felt like I was going to faint!
Second stop – CTC
Honestly, we just entered this shop to get rid of a dalaal who was hounding us and also we thought we’d chill off in their air-conditioned shop. What a disappointment. Even their a/c was not working effectively (maybe it was just the extreme heat outside and not their fault)! We thought, might as well look at some bridal lehengas here as well. They came out with one chamki piece after another. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Don’t you have anything that’s doesn’t have so much bling?
*salesman comes out with a lehenga that has 5% lesser bling*
Me: No, even this is too much. Show me some sangeet category lehengas? Maybe they’ll have lesser bling.
Salesman: Ma’am, we don’t do sangeet lehengas.
Me: Ok, forget it.
Salesman: Bridal lehengas will have bling obviously. It’s a wedding lehenga, after all!
Me: There can be some brides who don’t want to wear so much bling just because it’s their wedding!
Salesman: Well, we don’t have anything like that.
Me: I can see that.
*walked out of shop with mother*
Third and final stop – Om Prakash Jawahar Lal
What a shop! Beautiful lehengas. Large variety. If you’re looking for some not so OTT wedding lehengas, you’ll find them here. Even if bling is your thing, you’ll find your wedding lehenga here. Their range starts from 40-45,000 and goes up to God knows where. Yes, you need to bargain, bargain, bargain. But you’ll find your wedding lehenga here. All those things you see at Frontier Raas, I’m sure you’ll get them here at a cheaper price. You can find slightly lighter lehengas for your Sangeet here as well. But you can’t go to this shop for a small occasion that requires a small budget item. They seem to specialize in big event clothing – so all the saris and lehengas here will be suitable for big occasions. Must-visit. I have placed the order for my wedding lehenga here. I almost picked up my Sangeet lehenga also from here – it was so beautiful, yet light! But, it’s too soon to place that order. I might go here again for my reception sari. And please, wear normal clothes when you go here. All the women who came in here were dressed in normal, nice clothes. I was the only idiot in odd-looking clothes. Don’t worry about it, Chandni Chowk is not as bad as it seems!
I’ll do another post on Chandni Chowk – my mother has been there a few times now. I’ll ask her to review a few shops so I can let you guys know her comments. Update: if you want to read more about my experience at Om Prakash Jawaharlal (I eventually bought my wedding lehenga from here!), see this post on how I found my wedding lehenga.
Edit: Other names I’ve heard good things about are Sudhir Bhai, Asiana Couture, Ram Kishan Sarees (we have a bride on the blog who bought her lehenga from there! See pictures here), Pakeeza Plaza and Kamal Bhai. Also check out Mehak’s post on where to shop at Chandni Chowk - since she’s a personal shopper for brides, you should take her advice seriously!