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Khari Baoli, Delhi

Khari Baoli, situated near the historic Delhi Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid is Asia’s biggest spice market. Operating since the 17th century, the wholesale market over the years has remained a tourist attraction, especially those in the heritage circuit of Old Delhi.

The name, Khari Baoli, comes from Baoli meaning a stepwell and Khari or Khara meaning salty. It was therefore a salty water stepwell used for bathing and for animals. None of them exist but many shops are still known by their serial numbers, e.g., “Chawal Wale 13” or “21 Number Ki Dookan,” and are run by the ninth or tenth generation of the founders of these establishments dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.

It’s a unique experience to see huge quantities of spices being loaded, carried and unloaded simultaneously in the shops with some spices coming from as far as Afghanistan and from nearby Kashmir.