Delhi being an ancient city and the capital of India offers many unique experience, after all 12 million people reside in this city and 2 million more come to this city daily for some work or other. One such unique experience is the Sunday book street market in Daryaganj, which gives a superlative opportunity to a bibliophile in you to pick a book from more than 250 vendors. Flipping through books, finding the right book and seeing so many other book lovers make for an awe-inspiring experience here. Picking books from this Book Market is the best way to celebrate a delightful Sunday in Delhi.
I am a bibliophile and books are part of my dreamy world; in fact they helped me weave a dream world for me. And, every Sunday, Sunday Book Bazaar of Daryaganj gives me reason to chuck my mundane life and get a life by immersing in ocean of books. The Daryaganj book market is a paradise for any avid reader – the prices are cheap and the options are endless.
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My Journey of Books
That was a period, when I, as a kid, used to read a lot of comic books like Chacha Choudhury, Akur, Nagraj, Super Hero Dhruv, Raman, and I clearly remember they used to cost 5 rupees and one comic used to last only for 15-20 minutes. So, during one train journey, my father bought 5-6 comic books that lasted only for 2 hours and seeing my boredom henceforth, my father suggested me to rather start reading Chandamama, Nandan, Suman Saurabh etc which were Children’s Magazines having stories, puzzles, quizzes and other stuff. The reason for his suggestion was to motivate me to upgrade me to next level of reading and also help me understand the value of money. And, I feel proud of myself for accepting his offer and since then instead of buying comic books, I started buying magazines. It changed everything for me, as it sharpen my visualization and also help me develop General Knowledge.
This love with books further found its abode in the in-house library of my father which had range of books of Hindi on various topics. Unlike, other kids of my age, I was into books far earlier in my life; when others were still stuck with comic books, I graduated to proper Hindi novels – Fiction, history and mythology. In later stages, bibliophile in me got introduced to the world of English books and now I boast of having a good library of more than 400 books, a mix of Hindi and English books.
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This fetish for books achieved its ecstasy in Book Street of Daryaganj when I first arrived in Delhi in 2003 and since then whenever I get time, I find myself picking books from this unique book street market. In this new age tech world, where people have shifted to online buying from Amazon and Flipkart or reading soft version on Kindle etc, I still find solace in visiting a book store or street vendors for picking my books, the ral classic way of picking a book. I love to soak in the blissful smell of newly bought book, skimming through pages of old books having old styled notes of an unknown previous reader, holding a book in my hand and then scribbling on the margins of pages with my own notes. If you love buying paperbacks and hard covers and you reside in Delhi or planning to visit Delhi, Sunday’s Book Street Market has to be your must visit place.
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Story of Sunday Book Market of Daryaganj, Old Delhi
Famously known as the Sunday Book Bazaar, it’s a paradise for book lovers offering an overwhelming experience every Sunday. The Sunday morning brings an old world charm to Old Delhi’s Daryaganj, which is otherwise a busy commercial hub, when hundreds of booksellers and thousands of book readers start to throng this place. When I reach there, I find myself in the midst of nothing but books spread all over the pedestrian’s footpath which excites me, confuses me and finally gives more fuel to my quest to know the world. Decaying yellow pages of old books with eerie smell fascinates me and this Sunday Book Market burns me to death with this ever bulging fascination.
As per popular belief, this Sunday Book Street Market was started in 1960s by few scrape collectors first at Janana Hospital (Now Kasturba Gandhi Hospital) near Jama Masjid then shifted to under Iron Bridge and finally found its rightful place on the pavements of Daryaganj. It changed the book landscape of the city by 1970s and since then book worms have been thronging the streets of Delhi’s Daryaganj to browse and buy their favorite titles. The books are sourced from different places, mainly from bookstores that want to get rid of old stocks, from scrape collectors who grab these books from houses of Delhi. Some vendor even told me that book scrap from all over the world reaches here making it a treasure trove for book lovers – young and old for decades.
An Eclectic range of books are lined up on the pavements quite neatly making it easy to peruse through all the titles. The book street starts from the Delhi gate and stretches up to Red Fort offering a stupendous range of books, coffee books, magazine and journals of varied genres in Hindi, Urdu and English language which can burn a big hole in your pocket as you may go berserk buying books at throwaway price. For those with an eye for rare things, this is a pilgrimage spot where you may unearth a rare book, a first edition or an edition signed by author. Hard-to-find books, magazines and journals can be bought here at throwaway price. It also offers a vast range of books for academic purpose and competitive exam’s preparation. Students throng this place in search of cheap book and also to sell their books.These days, I visit this market primarily to buy affordable Coffee Table book or old editions of magazine like National Geographic, Reader’s Digests compilation etc. In one last decade I have unearthed some real gem from this market which includes first edition of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and a book on America by Looks Magazine which has some awesome captures by highly acclaimed photographers like Ansel Adams.
A famous quote by Ernest Hemingway says, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
So, to find your best friend, a companion of lif,e who can impart an ocean of knowledge, make a visit to Sunday Book Street market of Daryaganj. This unique market not only sells books, but the good habits of reading books in today’s changing demographic; it’s an legendary market representing one more aspect of Delhi’s rich heritage. It might be the last flag runner marching to make people read books, the hard ones. May the printed words never lose its magic and continue to charm generations to come.
How to Reach Sunday Book Street Market
- Landmark: Delhi Gate of Old Delhi
- Nearest Metro Station: Chandni Chowk
- How to reach: Deboard at Chandni Chowk Metro Station and take a walk or ride on hand rickshaw to reach Delhi Gate.
- Best time – 9:30AM to 12 AM
- Insider Tip: Reach early in the morning around 9:30 to steal some great books and do bargain hard
Delhi has many more such unique experiences and hidden gems. Tell us your story from Delhi.
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4 thoughts on “Sunday Book Street Market Of Delhi– The Superlative Paradise For Book Lovers”
Your post made me nostalgic. It took me back to my good old school days, when I used to frequent here on Sundays for search of comics, which I used to buy by weight… in kilograms! Sunday Book Bazaar is one of the loveliest place then for me. It’s good to know that the market is still alive. Thanks for the post.
Thanks Indrajit. I hope you visit this place soon.
This sounds like a truly fascinating market. You had me at first addition of Fountainhead, although Howard Roark is my least favorite Rand hero. Dominique Francon is my favorite woman from Rand cannon so that makes up for it. Also, any book that inspired a Gary Cooper movie is ok by me.
First edition of Fountainhead! Now that’s a steal 😀