In the mystic alleys of Delhi – The Sunday Book Bazaar

Once upon a time—-

On a chilly Sunday morning, my elder brother, Gyaneshwar asked me to get ready to join for a visit to Darya Ganj. With the army like discipline at home, despite my reluctance, I took a quick bath, grabbed a breakfast and was on the pillion of his bicycle on way to the destination. Moving from one stall to the other, finally we halted at a stall, where the books were parked on the spiral stairs. The owner shook hands with my brother, ignoring my presence and climbing like a monkey, produced some book, which my brother had indented. My brother almost immediately sank into the book and was startled by a strange remark “Yeh chikna Kaun Hai” from Oberoi, the stall owner. He gave him a nasty look and told him who I was. With no other customer around, Oberoi turned to me and said “Tu bhi kuch padta hai”. Already embarrassed by his earlier remark, I nodded in affirmative boldly and told him about the story “Mr. Know All” by Somerset Maugham (which was a part of our eighth class school syllabus). The naughty old man asked me if I had understood the moral of the story. Furious by his taunt, I bounced back and said “Sir, do you take me for a buffoon”. Smilingly, in an ape-like jump, he produced a hard bound edition of “The Great Short Stories of the World” and presented it to me with his compliments. On being told of my inability to accept gifts from strangers, he offered to sell the book at 50 paise. Humoured by our conversation, Gyaneshwar paid him and the book was mine.

This was my first exposure with the Sunday Book Bazaar.

Jama Masjid

With the passage of time, Gyaneshwar being a topper most of the times and with my interests divided between sports and studies, besides the distraction of the good looking girls of the neighborhood, he completed his masters in Mathematics and Psychology with honors and I managed to do my graduation in commerce. He joined NCERT and became a lecturer and I, as per my aptitude, landed in the lap of a multi national bank.

With the six days a week job loaded with long working hours, my visits to the Sunday Book Bazaar became infrequent, but to satiate my thirst, I did manage to go there occasionally.

About couple of years back, through a chance meeting with Surendra Dhawan, an extraordinary character from the bazaar, my frequency of visits to the bazaar surged. But before I tell you more about the prowess of Surendra like book sellers, let me say a few words about the bazaar itself.

Delhi Gate

The area known as Daryaganj, one of the oldest localities of Delhi is located along Netaji Subhash Marg, one of the main roads leading from New Delhi into Old Delhi. Though this is an important business district, and home to the head offices of some of India’s leading publishers and book distributors, Daryaganj’s main attraction on Sunday mornings is the Book Bazaar. Irrespective of the chilly winters, the scorching heat or the windy autumns and on clear days during the monsoon, dozens of book sellers set up stalls, either in the covered corridors of Asaf Ali Road or the open pavements along the Netaji Subhash Marg and sell books.

I don’t think, I have come across any book on the history of the bazaar, if there is any, but from whatever I have gathered during my association with the bazaar, I believe that fifty years ago, a Kabadi bazaar (flea market or market overt) selling used clothes, shoes, furniture, old tyres, glassware, etc was held each Sunday near Jama Masjid in the Walled City. The shops were normally lined on both sides of what was once Delhi’s biggest fish market, near Jagat Cinema (which seems to be going into oblivion. I still remember Vyajanti Mala’s “Nagin” did Golden Jubilee there). Over the period, a couple of Kabadis set up stalls next to the Kasturba Hospital (formerly known as – Victoria Janana Hospital) and started selling second-hand books.

It is said that after several years, with a view to cleanse the area around Jama Masjid, the kabadi bazaar was moved to the back side of Red Fort, towards Bela Road (now known as – Outer Ring Road), probably at the instance of Delhi Police or Municipal Committee of Delhi. The intended measure soon started showing the signs of discomfort both with the book lovers as well as the book sellers, as the new location was not easily accessible by public transport and with hardly any water facilities and the absence of trees in the concrete jungle, within a few months, three of the original booksellers of Jama Masjid’s kabadi bazaar opted to come back to Darya Ganj and started setting up the Sunday stalls close to the pedestrian iron over-bridge.

They were soon joined by other booksellers and the footfall at these stalls became visible again. Initially, a small number of passers-by would notice the stalls and stop to check out the books. Some ended up buying. Gradually, a few of these became regulars. The word of mouth from the regular visitors about cheaper rates as compared to the established book shops and availability of some rare books helped in augmenting the footfall.

Over the years more booksellers joined and the little stretch extended from the Iron over bridge to Golcha Cinema (one of the premiere theatres of those times) and then to the Telephone Exchange, near Delhi Gate and slowly extended its fold to the Broadway Hotel at Asaf Ali Road and beyond.

On Sunday mornings at around 7 A.M. the booksellers start arriving to set up their respective stalls and by 8.30 or so, the book lovers start pouring. From students to lectures, artists to designers, theorists to activists, children to oldies, the casual walkers, all start hunting for their favourite books. By noon you can see a throng of people all around and the atmosphere becomes a festival like. This is one place where you can find priceless books on any subject – be it computer sciences, engineering, medicine, architecture, films and drama, novels – new and classics, children books, travel guides, autobiographies, encyclopedia, books on art, coffee table books, foreign magazines, home decor and lifestyle books. In the same bazaar, you can pick up stationery items, photo albums, audio / video CDs at almost throw away prices. The students form a major portion of the visitors as they can get most of the academic books at very low prices.

On the mile-long stretch pavement between the Delite Cinema and the Daryaganj over-bridge, you can come across some wonderful characters. I would rather introduce you to them.

Surendra Dhawan at his stall

On a Sunday morning, passing through a shop, I spotted two hard bound editions of Isabelle Allende’s – Daughter of Fortune and The Infinite Plan and while paying him noted the shop keeper talking to someone on Shakespeare’s works. Slightly bewildered, I introduced myself to him.

This was my first interaction with Surendra Dhawan, fondly known as the “Kitabon ka Badshah”, who has been putting up his stall near the Stock Exchange and bang outside the Asaf Ali road Branch of Union Bank of India for over 10 years. Over the weeks, I discovered that Surinder’s collection of around 5000 books included virtually everything – Harry Potter to Shakespeare, Jane Austin to Dan Brown, Agatha Christie to Jeffery Deaver, books on psychology, management, religion and what not. Not only the Delhites, the book lovers from UP and Haryana also visit him. Some of the book lovers from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and as far as Kathmandu can also be seen picking up books from the shop. A sizable collection of my own books including the books on art, history, fiction, management and spiritual readings have come from the treasure of Dhawan.

Books on art and music procured from Surendra Dhawan

Now where does Surinder get all these priceless books from and sell at such low prices. Over the week, the small time junk pickers (Kabadis) keep on providing him the books and magazines. He also told me that the container loads of used books from the US and Canada land up at Mumbai and Gujarat. The big dealers buy in bulk and sell these in smaller lots to persons like Surinder, who after keeping a reasonable margin, sell the books to the booklovers at very low prices (pittance at times). At times he picks up the unsold lot of slow moving books directly from the publishers.

Walking for about 100 yds towards the Delhi Gate, just close to the Hotel President, Satish kumar puts up a stall selling text books of schools, colleges and has also some collection for the research scholars too. This is Satish’s family business. It was started by his grandfather Chaube Lal and was inherited by his father, Dev Dutt. While talking to me, he was also attending to a school girl, who wanted a book on economics, a good looking first year medical student, who urgently required some book on bio-chemistry and a boy, pursuing his MCA, wanted a book on computer sciences. Books given to the students and accounts settled, he turned back to me and told that the family has been in the business for over 50 years and he then showed me a part of the collection of books on medicine, engineering, computer sciences, management, etc. Let me warn you that at this bazzar nothing is kept in a categorized manner. You have to hunt for your rewards out of this large treasure yourself.

Sufiyan., a young boy, who has been in this business for over 10 years, puts up his Sunday shop close to the Shiv Temple, near Telephone Exchange. Though very young, his collection of books, neatly stacked, is also pretty impressive. My travel guide on Switzerland, which helped me plan a visit to meet my daughter, came from him. William Dalrymple’s White Mughal, The city of Djinns also came from his shop. He also puts up a stall at Gurgaon sometimes.

Ankur Nanda

And how can I forget the Nanda family, the torch-bearers of this bazaar for a number of years. Kuldip Raj Nanda, an old hand, has been associated with the market for over 50 years. He was away to Jaipur at the time of my visit and his son, Ankur was batting for him. Ankur told me that besides his father, the two sons he and Anand, set up individual stalls, close to Sablok Clinic. Almost beaming he told me that his father was one of the three persons, who initiated the comeback of the bazaar from the Ring Road location to Darya Ganj over-bridge.

Priceless Books

Nandas collection was amazing. There were books on just about every topic under the sun. Computers and IT, mathematics, physics, chemistry, automobiles, gardening, cookery, pregnancy and motherhood, architecture, art, history, religion, travel, humour, fiction, etc. Out of around half a dozen travel guides published by DK Eyewitness Travel, I picked up a book on Switzerland costing ten pounds at Rs 200 only. The good thing is that the books available at their shops are in a fairly good condition. He told me that their major procurement comes from the publishers, who either have come out with a new edition to replace the existing one or have large slow moving stock of books. Then there are lots of customers, who come to them for exchange of books. They also buy goods at the embassy auctions. At times, the railway authorities and other transporters auction loads of books, which remain unclaimed.

Author talking to Subhash Chand Aggarwal.

Now let’s meet the most outstanding character, Subhash Chand Aggarwal, the president of Sunday Book Bazar Patri Welfare Association (Darya Ganj), an unassuming person. He has been the president of the Assoociation for around 30 years. He offered me a seat at the pavement next to him, by relocating some of the books. Nostalgically, while telling me the history of the bazaar, he mentioned that some of the celebrities including Khushwant Singh, Surendra Mohan Pathak, Yash Pal (scientist), Ved Prakash (news reader) and some of the high officials from the armed forces have been visitors to the Bazaar. I personally had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Satya Prakash, the famous bibliographer on a couple of occasions. Despite his age, accompanied by one of his grandsons / workers, his passion brought him to the bazaar almost magnetically, all the way from Gurgaon to Darya Ganj.

Subhash Aggarwal also mentioned about the fear of insecurity looming large on the shopkeepers. Every now and then the police or the bureaucrats, in the name of traffic hazards or security, would come out with some kind of “farmaan” and make their functioning unstable. Once the plan of disbanding the bazaar, was thwarted by the untiring efforts of Khushwant Singh, the world renowned author. On another occasion, Vijay Goel, the then MP from Chandni Chowk, helped them in the matter.

We also met another extraordinary character, Shanky located bang opposite the Oriental Bank of Commerce. He deals in books related to Bollywood. Those interested in this kind of shopping can possibly hit a gold mine, as his collection includes some of the rare books on the industry, posters and publicity material of the old films.

The list of the interesting persons in the bazaar is endless and hence I am restricting myself to the most visited stalls in the bazaar.

And if you are fond of savoring some good “chaat”, then this is the place. The mouth watering Chole-bhature, kachhories, samosas, dosas are available at Mithas Restaurant and Mehta Restaurant located next to Golcha Cinema.

Lassi – malaai maar ke

To quench your thirst you will find the chaai and cold drink shops all along the pavements. The Lassi- malaai maar ke, at Saini Sweets is simply out of this world. And if you still feel that you didn’t have adequate kick from browsing through the books, then you can easily pick up the booze of your choice at three of the wine shops in the locality.

It is around 2 P.M. and high time to go in for a good lunch. You have various options – Chor Bizzare and Thugs, the two restaurants at Hotel Broadway, Bhaj Govindam, a 100 % vegetarian joint (just next to Delite cinema), the famous Moti Mahal Restaurant and if you go a little close to the Jama Masjid area , the famous “Karim’s” would be awaiting your arrival. But over the years, I have struck to my age old favourite “Ginza Restaurant” at Connaught Circus, where sipping a chilled beer and munching the won tons, I can review my day’s purchases.

And my friends, before closing, I wish that one of these Sundays we bump into each other at the bazaar. As Oliver Goldsmith said in his immortal poem – The Village School Master “I knew him well and every truant knew”, I can assure you that it would be very easy for you to spot me, as every book lover would possibly be another Ram Dhall.

Thanks for visiting.

P.S.. There are a few established book shops in Delhi, which offer handsome discounts. Some of these are Midland Book Shop (flat 20% discount) located at Aurobindo Place Market, Hauz Khas with branches at South Extension Part I, and Janpath, Om Book Shop at E-77, South Extension-I,45, with branches at Basant Lok Market, Vasant Vihar and MGF, Metropolitan Mall, DLF, Gurgaon. Oxford Bookstore, Bookworm, Variety Book Depot, New Book Depot, English Book Store are a few other names worth visiting.


  • RT says:

    A breezy read Sir. I started and was compelled to finish in one sitting. The stories of ‘characters’ remind me of my favorite music shop elsewhere whose owner was a speaking and walking encyclopedia on music or as my adolescence would think of him. There is a smaller and daily book baazar in my home town in Central UP, which I used to frequent.

    I know of my UPSC aspirant friends who used to make regular visits to Dariyaganj to fish out gems from the weekly treasure trove. That they are well placed has something also to do with this Bazar.

    Thank you so much for bringing up this collectible.

  • Ram Uncle,

    Enjoyed the whole description a lot. I have been once or twice in this market. One of my close friend was a regular one to this market. I have seen both the kinds of book lovers: the one who love the smell of pages coming from the new books and like the one of my friend, who loves reading those yellow tinted book.

    There are always newspaper reports that this book market will not be allowed from nowonwards. Good that it is still going on.

    Very well written Ram Uncle and you have increased the desire to visit it soon.

    Thanks for taking us to this treasure.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    I had been to Sunday book market many times during my college days.

    Thanks a lot for sharing it with us.

  • Ved Shukla says:


    A brilliant narrative, as said earlier the depth of research is again enlightning !!

    warm rgds

  • Abhishek Bhardwaj says:

    I have been following Ghumakkar since a week only and have seen u commenting on various other posts and have read some of ur post also. The best part about ur writing is that u take us virtually tothe place u r writing about. Hope to see u there Sometime at The Book Bazaar.

    By the way which Book u purchased at ur this respective trip ?

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for liking the post.

    Yes, I am in total agreement with you about the impressions some persons leave. At times such characters, wittingly or unwittingly, do something which can sometimes be to your benefit. Now, for example, I found Oberoi, the bookseller (mentioned in my post) to be very rude and insolent. I saw him once or twice again with my brother, but somehow didn’t like him. However, the fact that he came out with the book on World’s best short stories, which did help in virtually introducing me to the glorious world of letters. So to that extent, I am certainly very grateful to him.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for your kind and encouraging words.

    The quality of books you buy at this bazaar, is by and large good enough, especially the hard bound editions. Sometimes, you can come across books, which are virtually untouched (as mentioned above picked up straight from the publishers). However, the fact remains that you need to invest sometime looking for good books by going to various stalls.

    During the winters, it is fun going there as you are comforted by the lovely sun shine accompanying you.

    Try to visit the bazaar sometime.

    Warm regards.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for your sweet words.

    I picked up the following books during my visit to the bazaar last Sunday:

    1. Transforming the mind by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
    2. D K Eyewitness travel guide on Switzerland.
    3. The Golden Book of Amsterdam.
    4. Don’t sweat the small stuff by Dr. Richard Carlson.
    5. Moscow – History, Art and Architecture.

    Please do keep on visiting.

    Mahesh Semwal: Thanks for liking the post.

  • Jerry Jaleel says:

    Dear Ram:
    One of the very best posts ever appeared here at Ghumakkar in recent months. Being a bibliophile myself ever since I was 15, I can spend hours and hours in Book Bazaars like the one you described here. In the olden days, (1960s), one of my favorite book bazaars was the Moore market in Madras. During my visits to New Delhi, my book buying was limited to within the stores. I was fortunate to wander through similar roadside stalls in London (Blackwells, Hay Cinema, Charring Cross Road etc), streets of New York (Broadway and Lexington) and Victoria, British Columbia and brought home cartons after cartons of wonderful books of interest, all non fiction, mostly on travel and adventure including hunting in India and Africa. A rare 1910 first leather edition of African game Trails by US president Theodore Roosevelt for $6 ($500 in today’s market), Ewart Grogan’s From the Cape to Cairo (1900) for $65 ($1000 now), F.W. Champion’s With a Camera in Tigerland (1927), and Jungle in Sunlight and Shadow (1934) for $5 each, Jim Corbett’s original 1944 edition of Man eaters of Kumaon for $15 are some of the best bargains.

    Being a manager of Canada’s largest book store chain for over 10 years also helped me to collect a large number of books of my choice at a special 30% staff discount. Collecting books is always exciting, especially if one focus on certain subjects or authors. Some of those books will appreciate in value as time goes on, and if they are in good condition, one can fetch a handsome amount when parting (ouch!) with some of his/her collection. During my lifetime, I may have collected over 10000 hardcover volumes of books on the subjects I like.

    Once again,Ram, it was a great pleasure to read your wonderful post. I will be reading this again and again, and your photographs brought back sweet memories. Thank you for sharing your experience!
    With best wishes,
    Jerry Jaleel
    Alberta, Canada.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dear Jerry,

    Your very kind and generous words have touched me to the hilt of my heart and soul.

    Getting this kind of recognition from a person of your stature, is no less than a big big honour.

    I don’t think I can find adequate words to express my gratitude.

    This is my instant response to your generosity. I will read your comments once again – verbatim and prepare myself to respond to you.

    Warmest regards.

  • Mini Sarin says:

    Seeing the pictures makes me scream, ‘Oh I’ve been there’, ‘Oh yes I know this place!!’. Great post, reminds me of my own frequent trips to Daryaganj and nayi sadak back in college days. Its amazing how they have such a vast collection of books.
    By the way even Ber Sarai is also an established book market in Delhi. They offer great discounts and promise a rich collection.
    Sometimes I feel in the rush of life I have lost the interest and enthusiasm I had for books a few years back.
    Thanks Ram for refreshing those memories. A good chance for reviving my interest in books.

  • nandanjha says:

    I am feeling privileged to be around and to be participating in the conversation. And I am loving every bit of it. Being in Delhi for a lot many years, I have been there multiple times, its a treat to watch the bazaar and to be there amid the action.

    The other day while doing rounds I realized that a large number of visitors have a specific book in mind and not every seller is equipped to hunt/read/understand the requests. While sitting in a/c comforted office cabins and reading the bleeding-edge technological advances on internet is so nice, would it be more fun (and a lot valuable) if we could have a software (say a flavor of Google Goggle – on our mobile phones which can just search the book which you are looking by just hovering the camera-phone over the pile of books. so if you go to this s/w on your mobile and then switch on the camera and just scan books and if it finds the one you are looking, it would beep.

    At a later point of time, based on what you are buying in past it can even suggest new books in your further trips. Assuming that a whole lot of us are using this s/w, in the background it can keep updating the overall inventory being kept on internet. Thus making future searches faster/quicker. With face-recognition of the persons standing in a particular zone, it can try to guess the seller (probably the face which appears most), with geo-tag the location can be pin-pointed and boom, you are done.

    well, till all of that happens, let me rather keep finding some time on Sundays to this great book bazaar.

    Thank You Ram.

  • Subhash Gupta says:

    Dear Ram Bhai,

    Reading your post is like going back to memory lane beyond fifty years. Being born, broughtup and living in one of the backlanes of Golcha Cinema, as a child of ten or twelve we, a group of neighbourhood friends used to visit the bazar for sheer joy of looking at things some of which appeared to be amazing. (We never had money to buy the stuff at that stage of life). I still remember vividly the crystle glassware including empty scotch bottles (with lebels intect as brand new) of various colors and shapes at display attracting us the most. People would buy these bottles either to decorate their little drawing rooms or would grow a money plant in these bottles.

    One has seen changing scenario of the bazar very closely as truely discribed in your post. Your research is amazing. Some of the facts about bazar have added to my knowledge which I now feel was so less.

    Its really a treasure of knowledge strewen all around on the pavement one can pick up and be a rich person for life, truely.

    Thankyou Ram for such a good and enriching post.

    Warm regards

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Gold. Pure Gold. Thats what this post offers us. Blogs appeared over the last few weeks were given a skip (with apologies to all Greats out there) but enthusiasm bubbled as Ram ki kahaniayan started flowing again. History blended with research makes a heady concoction here in Rams own unrivalled style.

    A noticeable change this time around is the tidbits on his own life, as though coming slowly out of a veil of mist. Enjoyed every bit of it.

  • Babboo says:

    Dear Ram,

    Fantastic.unbeliveable,I can imagine that you must have worked so hard before writing this article on The Sunday Book Bazar.This is also worth reading for those who are book lovers and are always in search of old books which are not easily available in the market.

    I wish you all the best.


  • Deepak says:

    Ram Saab,

    Needless to say an excellent article, your narration is so wonderful that it would get a book lover all nostalgic & someone who isnt, all excited. I think it would be thought provoking & make one wonder on what they have been missing in life, also make them hunt for such bazaars in their own citys.
    These are treasures I hope you have them safely collected.
    Best Regards

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Needless to say that your posts are outstanding. Reading your comments, I can feel the same fragrance.

    Thank you for liking the post and also for your sincere efforts in encouraging the new writers like Pooja Kadam (Ganapatipule trip).

    I would visit the Ber Sarai bookshops shortly.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    The concept per se looks brilliant. However, not being tech savvy, I don’t know how and when this could happen, though seeing the technological advancements lately, it seems it could be possible sooner than we envisage.

    I am not very sure if there is anything like e-bay in India, though I have seen my friends ordering books through e-bay. However, I am told that ordering one or two books, because of the freights involved, could be less cost effective.

    For the time being the modus operandi being used by persons like Surendra is simple. Over a period, they come to know of an individual’s preferences and upon noticing some interesting books on those subjects, they call the respective customers. I have got some excellent books through such calls. But again this is totally relationship based.

    All said and done, going to the book bazaar is a fun in itself and the joy of picking up some unusual books sometimes, is not easy to put in words.

  • sudhir sharma says:

    Dear Ram Sir,
    This remided me the college days when i used to travel all the long market on the footpath to search engineering books, This market is bhandar for the 2nd hand book lovers. One can easily sell their books also to that market.
    I am not getting words to write more comments but you have narrated this very beautifully………
    Awaiting for your next masterpeice work…….

  • Virag Sharma says:

    Thanks Ram.
    Once upon a time , I use to go there :-)
    You refreshed my old n sweet memories :-)

  • Sonika says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to grow up on Book market books.. We used to frequent it all the time in school/college. This is the place I picked up my very first copy of Fountain Head.. Where I found brand new tofflers sold for half price.. Ah.. the good old days…
    On buying cheap books, offers minimum 25% discount for book club members and shipping is pretty decent as well… And if you are addicted to buying books like me, within 2 orders, cost of book club is usually adjusted.
    And for quick service.. I love Dial-A-Book guys. Just call them, and book is at your door step within 3 hours.. no delivery charges.

  • Pratik Prakash says:

    Dear Ram

    A most endearing article. I havent been much of a visitor to Darya Ganj, since I live very close to Midlands bookshop(which you mentioned near the end), but being an out and out book lover, I could totally identify with what you were saying. I’m definitely going to increase my visits once I move back to Delhi.

    The one thing I will remember Darya Ganj for is picking up the first book of the Dune series for only Rs10 – best bargain of my life :)

  • Pawan Anand says:

    Extreemly enchanting and engrossing details of Book Bazar. It was as if I’m myself going through the various stalls. Details of characters involved in these stalls make it more humane and interesting. Most imp part is the knowledge of these folks who run the stalls. They may not be ‘educated’ but are really ‘learned’.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Phool Hi Phool Khil Uthe, Mere Paimaane Mein,
    Aap Kya Aaye, Bahaar Aa Gai Maikhane Mein.

    And– Ram Ki Kahaniyan – I am feeling honoured and elated.

    Thanks for your very sweet and ever encouraging words. Also my heartfelt gratitude for welcoming back this truant.

    God bless you.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Subhash Bhai,

    Nostalgia all around.

    I can see the two of us walking through the lanes of Darya Ganj and heading towards Asaf Ali Road Corner to savour “kachoris” at the shack outside the Shiva Temple.

    I can also see myself sitting on the pillion of your scooter, picking up two cokes to be mixed with the quarter of rum and after a quick drink, heading for the shops outside the urdu bazaar (I think that was the name of the lane) selling tangari chicken and your dropping me at the bus stop near Delhi Gate.

    Koi Lauta De Mere Bite Hooe Din.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Pawan ji,

    Thanks for your very kind words. I am in total agreement with your observation about the booksellers. Most of these guys are highly street smart. Not only they know the art of selling but also are shrewd enough to know your preferences and if you are a regular visitor, they will help you in picking up some rare and valuable books too.

    Please do keep on visiting.

    Sonika: Thanks for the info about and Dial-a-book.

    Sudhir, Baboo, Virag, Deepak and Pratik: My grateful thanks to all of you for liking the post.

  • Bindiya says:

    Ram Sir,
    As ususal a beautifully written piece. Could so easily relate with Surinder Ji’s knowledge on various subjects (quite a few of the Allendes that i picked were from him). Since I have not been to the bazaar for a few months now, the acticle actually made me realise how much I missed it…… maybe the next time we should go together.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece with us!
    Have a lovely day!

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for liking the post.

    It would be a great pleasure visiting the bazaar along with you.

    Take care.

  • Smita says:

    Ok, so I finally write a comment, despite being probably the first one to see the post. How do I define the delay – not being able to find the right words? unnecessary effort to suppress the joy it gave? or maybe to hold the thought and revive the post once every-one-else has seen and passed ahead… so here we go!

    I liked the post, immensely. A lot because it was so personal, along with the descriptions and then for all the comments it entailed. Aur kya kahoon… and yes, I will not say that this is your best post (though it is my first thought), ’cause the story gives me immense confidence that “the best is yet to come”. You keep writing, we keep waiting – very happily. :-)

  • Roop says:

    Dear Ram Sir,

    It is same as our College pare or Street at kolkata.All the picture and story took me in my student life,When i usede to go.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks Roop.

    I think I will have to visit Kolkata sooner than I thought. The book markets are my passion.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for liking the post.

    I will constantly strive to improve on my writings to come up to the expectations of my ghumakkar family.

    God bless you.

  • aurojit says:

    Hi Mr Ram Dhall,
    A great post and even greater description of the bazaar (your descriptions are just fantastic) – will it be an exaggeration to call it a ‘Mecca of bibliophiles’, (if yes, then perhaps we may qualify bibliophile as Indian bibliophile). The place is really a wonder, brought to life in your post.

    To continue with with what Jerry said above, i remember similar stuff in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata. Bangalore, I forget name of the the place I visited some 10 years ago, selling books on roadside area. Bombay – this stuff is to be found in Flora-fountain area. There, it is even queer. You can buy books, and return the same after reading, if you wish to. Upon purchase, bookseller tells the asking repayment amount (mutually agreed, of course), which he writes with PENCIL at reverse end in coded form (a book with return price of Rs 130/-, he may inscribe ’44’ or’ h-73′, etc). I collected vintage stuff (London 50s) with similar agreement. Sadly but, (perhaps shopkeepers also know) I could never make up my mind to return those books – despite being a regular visitor to the market.
    Kolkata, of course you have College Street, from where one of my priced possessions is a hardbound Hindi Dictionary of 1940s vintage published by ‘Nagripracharini Sabha’ Kashi. The places are worth a try.

    And to Mr Nandan, at the risk of being branded a MUMMY (reference – Egypt or Sommers) – I feel that if there is a provision of mobile accessibility to inventory, well-defined categorised lists,and all those high tech gadgetry , then there would be a great Daryaganj Mall over there, not the place Mr Dhall, and we all romantisize about. My point is – charm and flavour of Sunday book bazaar is sourced from so many factors which will simply vanish in ‘well-catalogued-books- list available-with-defined-make, year and price’ scenario. — and yes, it is debatable.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    I am simply overwhelmed to see your very kind and generous remarks. Such words from a person of your stature are no less than a big honour for this humble travelouge writer.

    Believe me I am still fumbling to find adequate words to express my gratitude.

    Yes, you have very correctly called the Bazaar a Mecca of bibliophiles – the Indian bibliophiles. I have been visiting the bazaar since my childhood and for me going there is as good as going to a congregation.

    May God bless you.

    Incidentally, I am awaiting your write up on Rackham.

  • Piyush says:

    Dear Ram

    was glad to go through your article on Sunday Book Bazar.I have seen this book Bazar from Netaji Shubhash Marg to the ground behind Lal Quila.
    Back in 90’a i use to visit this place quite often. The Bazar lost its essence when it was shifted to the grounds and it became just like a Kabadi Bazar.

    I am happy to note that it has shifted back to it’s original place..

    The nistalgia of this took me once to the book stalls of Fort Mumbai,but there is a major difference.Here the seller knows about the books he his selling.That makes a huge difference.

    I am certainly going to visit this again.

    Thanks for the valuable post.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    Thanks for liking the post.

    Yes, I have been to the stalls at Fort area. I have collected a few books from there. The guys really know, what they are selling and accordingly, charge a handsome price. Sunday Bazaar being bigger, there is at times, a chance of getting of getting some rare books at very reasonable prices. The art books I have mentioned in my write up are a few examples. There is another good book I picked up from there – Shaping of North America by Issac Asimov.

    Please do keep on visiting.


    RAM sahib. A priceless post of the popular Book Bazar.Havnt been there for years, but last time I went and picked up couple of books. 1.Bang-e-Dara by Allama Iqbal,published in 1930. It was owned(as per the signatures, writtewn in black pen) byMrs. Mohammad Abdullah Khan,B.A.LL.B.Municipal Commissioner,Montbommery Dt.12,8.34!.A priceless collection picked up up for Rs.20!
    The second book is about Mirza Ghalib.The complete interpretation of Diwan of Ghalib by Hazart.”BEKHUD DELHVI Marhoom.” Publishedin March 1934 -priced at that time Rs.5 (PANCH RUPAIYA) Published by Usmania Book Depot,Calcutta./ +”ZIKAR US PURVESH KA AUR PHIR BEYA-n APNA- BUN GAYA RAKEEB AKHIR THAT JO RAZDAN-N APNA.”


    RAM sahib. A priceless post of the popular Book Bazar.Havnt been there for years, but last time I went and picked up couple of books. 1.Bang-e-Dara by Allama Iqbal,published in 1930. It was owned(as per the signatures, writtewn in black pen) byMrs. Mohammad Abdullah Khan,B.A.LL.B.Municipal Commissioner,Montbommery Dt.12,8.34!.A priceless collection picked up up for Rs.20!
    The second book is about Mirza Ghalib.The complete interpretation of Diwan of Ghalib by Hazart.”BEKHUD DELHVI Marhoom.” Publishedin March 1934 -priced at that time Rs.5 (PANCH RUPAIYA) Published by Usmania Book Depot,Calcutta./ +”ZIKAR US PURVESH KA AUR PHIR BEYA-n APNA- BUN GAYA RAKEEB AKHIR THAT JO RAZDAN-N APNA.”

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Jatinder ji,

    Ab main kyaa boloon. Haath Pair Kaanp Rahe Hain aur Dimaag Sunn Ho Gaya Hai.

    On the onset, I have been waiting and waiting for your comments and when it came I am totally awed and overwhelmed. Like a bewildered child I am lost in the wilderness.

    In my college days, I did hear about the greatest work of Allama Muhammad Iqbal – Bang-e-Dara (Call of the marching bells) and some one told me about its contents. And you own this book and that too one of the earliest editions. My God —-.

    And an original translation of the Diwan-e-Ghalib by Bekhud Sahib !!! Now this is a gold mine.

    “Zikar Us Parivash Ka Aur Beyan Apna” – reminded me of the good old days, when we used to hear this ghazal by Begum Akhtar Sahiba at the jukebox of Standard Restaurant above Regal Cinema.

    I feel like crying over someone’s shoulder and express my joy over your very generous words.

    I won’t thank you. Would simply say – May God bless you and your family, always.

    In gratitude, Ram.

  • Jayanti says:

    Dear Ram,

    Incredible read. This is the first time I am visiting ghumakkar expecting stories from people who have travelled miles to explore new places. The title of your post attracted me. And, once I started reading, was completely hooked. There are so many places in ones own city that are left unexplored. This article would inspire many like me to look at the place close to where we stay with a new perspective.

    Your article reminds me of the alleys of College Street in Kolkata where I spent most of my time during my college years. Unlike the Book Bazaar at Darya Ganj, its a permanent book market where you can get any book under the sun. The pavements of the street are lined up with old bookstalls, offering you rare books at unbelievably low prices. There too, you have to have the patience to find the book you are looking for at the right price.

    Thanks for the posting this article. Im sure Ill be frequenting ghumakkar from now on.


  • Harshit Dhall says:

    Dear Uncle Ram,
    The post on Sunday Book Bazar is really mesmerizing once feeling towards literature. You have given complete attracting experience of the bazar by narrating the history of bazar including the book sellers. At the same time you have given the live experience of meeting with the president of the bazar and the book sellers by giving details about their family . Atlast I would pay gratitude for giving a wonderful experience And making the youth aware of the formation of bazar.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Dear Jayanti,

    I have heard such good things about the College Street recently that I will have to plan a visit to Kolkata, sooner than I thought.

    Thanks for visiting and liking the post.

    It would give the ghumakkar family a great pleasure if you keep on enriching our posts by your valuable views.

    Best wishes and God’s blessings.


  • Mohit Aggarwal says:

    Dear Ram Sir,

    I am so happy to see you here again, hoping you will be enjoying good health and God keep his grace on you forever. Once again you have proved that words are not enough to praise this article. It is so close to my heart because as you are very well aware that I have complete my schooling from Dryaganj and seen all those place several time. I have completed this article in one shot actually I could not leave it in between, and the places or photographs have seen through this article were seeing by me visiouly(this I felt during reading this article). I must admit that this article kept me back to my school days. And the description you given about the books and prices were absolutely right. I have also experience the same several times. And the habit of reading books has given to me by you only, really sir if you sank in the book, will forget about the surroundings. It is really not good for the profession like we have but we cant save us to sink in this. One thing I would like to add for sake of knowledge that Kasturba Gandhi Hospital is also known as “Machle wala hospital” because it is so closer to the fish market as you describe in the post.
    I am so sorry I dont have enough words to appreciate it, but it was Awesome, Thank you Ram Sir to remind me my childhood and school days again.
    Hope will get some more informatics and touchy posts soon by you.

    Good Bye and Take care Sir,

    Mohit :)

  • Ram Dhall says:


    I am happy that the post was to your liking.

    During my occasional visits to the bazaar, it is heartening to see that a sizable majority of the book lovers is from your age group (or slightly older).

    Incidentally, after your write up on Chandni Chowk, I don’t think, I have seen any contributions from you. Admittedly, you must be busy with your studies, but nevertheless, it would be great to see your next post. Make it happen soon.

  • Madhavi Srivastava says:

    Dear Mr. Dhall
    This was very interesting. I had only heard about this market. Reading your article was nearly like visiting the place sans the wonderful books.

  • Ram Dhall says:


    I am glad that the post was to your liking.

    The bazaar is well worth a visit and I can assure you that for persons like you the repeated visits thereafter would become imminent.


    Good to see you back at ghumakkar.

    Yes, for students this bazaar is like a boon. Getting nearly new or slightly used text books for 30-40% of the original price, is simply amazing.

    Keep on reading good books and visiting us at ghumakkar.

  • Gaurav Chopra says:

    Dear Ram Sahib,
    What a lovely article? first of all pls accept my apologies as, I just did not get time to read this before.
    One word come to the mind… WOW !!! You have taken me back to my college days, when I used to have a tough time here in Darya Ganj, to decide which books to buy, from so many available, due to my limited budget.You intrduced me to the place inGurgaon, during our time togehther at NCR, and there ws no looking back. Just Keep on writing, the best is yet to come.

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  • silal says:

    dear ram sir ,
    thats a wonderful theme.i came to know about this market only when i read here.
    cool.keep writing…may be next time on khan market or trendy sarojini…
    lots of love..
    only urs

  • Ram Mony says:

    Ram Ram Sir,

    From one Ram to another,

    I have perused your essay as well as all comments, and just as well for I intend to amble through the Sunday Book Bazaar tomorrow morn. Nevertheless, I must admit, I have lived in this city 23 years now, yet I may have visited the market just once, back in my college days…..what could I do, my mother would hear nothing of it, “You should not go to such crowded places, you might catch some infection” she would say….

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