Are you looking for the best hangout places in Delhi? Visit Dilli Haat, INA, where the culture, crafts and cuisine of all 29 states of India come under one roof. Attend unique events such as Aadi Mahotsav to buy rare handicrafts and try out unusual dishes like Red Ant Chutney.
Rameshwar Munda is an award-winning artist and flag bearer of Saura art from Odisha’s Munda tribe in India’s eastern state. The life of Munda is all about painting and travelling to showcase the rare art forms – Palm leaf Carving, Saura art and Patachitra. These art forms have been practised long before the discovery of the pen. In his entire life, he never encountered a situation where he couldn’t travel to present his art or even teach his students in his village. But 2020 was a challenging year not just for Munda but thousands and thousands of tribal artists who get their livelihood by selling their handicrafts. The pandemic has hit artisans quite adversely.
But things are looking to change now. The first big national tribal festival – Aadi Mahotsav – was organised at Dilli Haat, INA, after the pandemic. Through festivals like these, tribal artists get access to large markets where they can sell their goods, earn their livelihood and live well. The sale they get here sustains them for a whole year, and it’s heart-warming to see their enthusiasm. So, if you want to spend an action-packed day with your friends, family or someone else, do drop in at Dilli Haat, one of the best hangout places in Delhi. But first, let me share more about Aadi Mahotsav and Dilli Haat.
Aadi Mahotsav – a melange of Tribal Art, Craft, Culture, Cuisine and Commerce
In 2020, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government gave many slogans such as
#Vocal4Local, #EkBharatShresthaBharat, #AatmanirbharBharat #DekhoApnaDesh to become self-reliant economy. And Aadi Mahotsav was one such great initiative held from 1st Feb 2021 to 15th Feb 2021 at Dilli Haat, INA.
The concept of organising the National Tribal Festival titled “Aadi Mahotsav” was introduced in 2017 to showcase Tribal Art, Craft, Culture, Cuisine and Commerce holistically. These events provide an excellent opportunity for tribal artisans to interact directly with art and craft buyers while getting their feedback about their taste and preferences. This direct interaction helps them aesthetically improve their product designs and creations. Over 1000 artisans and artists came together to set up around 200 stalls in the Aadi Mohtsav 2021. The rich art and craft showcase included tribal handicrafts, paintings, jewellery, fabric, handmade soaps, woollen shawls and stoles, hand-woven cotton, silk fabrics, wool, metal craft, terracotta, bead-work and many more products from across the country.
The event also included tribal cultural performances and cuisines, which attempts to preserve tribal art and culture. Additionally, there was a delectable spread of tribal dishes, including Dal Pitha, Mahua laddoos, Telangana’s spicy biryani, Jharkhand’s Chilka roti, etc., something to please every palate.
While there was lip-smacking food from everywhere, the RED ANT CHUTNEY made by mixing red ant and green chillies from Bastar district of Chattishgarh was a clear winner. Highly rich in proteins and minerals with excellent anti-bacterial properties, the red ant chutney is consumed by tribals in Chhattisgarh and Orissa as a local remedy against cold, shortness of breath, fatigue, and other diseases. The dish even made its way to celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey’s menu. Recently, the Odisha High Court asked the Union Ministry of AYUSH and the CSIR to take a call on a proposal to use red ant chutney to treat Covid-19 within three months.
Besides the food, there was no shortage of entertainment with enthralling live performances by tribal musicians and dancers at different breakout zones, including a tribal fashion show, fire dance, kathputli dance and regional dances from all over India.
Although Aadi Mahotsav is over, you can still visit Dilli Haat. Always buzzing with cultural events throughout the year, D to glimpse the visitors about the diversity in the celebrations in various parts of India. The events range from special seasonal festivals and events such as the prized Mango festival in the summers, Teej Festival in August, Baisakhi Festival in April, Gujarat’s Dandiya in Navratri, Diwali bazaar in October to the fun festival of Delhi-Comic Con.
History of Dilli Haat and what to expect
One of the best hangout places in Delhi, Dilli Haat, was constructed in 1994 by the Delhi Tourism Department’s joint efforts with the Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Tourism – Government of India. One of the rare government initiatives that have stood the test of time and become a favourite of the people – both locals and tourists. The best part is the 6-acre of land on which the complex stands was reclaimed and transformed into a plaza. As you walk inside Dilli Haat, you feel like you have entered a village haat. A village set up using thatched-roof cottages with red stone and bricks gives the area a village-haat-like atmosphere. Unlike the traditional weekly market, Dilli Haat is permanent.
You can find the crafts, culture, and cuisine of all 29 states under one roof, where you can buy rare state handicraft items at reasonable prices. Here local artisans and craftsmen can present, market and sell their handicraft items. Besides retail therapy, you are spoilt for gastronomy too at Dilli Haat, INA – there is a massive food court with counters from 20 different country states. From Rajasthan’s Gatte ki sabzi to Bengal’s Fish, you will get everything here. Not just that, you also get to experience some high energy and colourful cultural activities that happen here now and then.
Dilli Haat location, how to reach and entrance tickets
Located in South Delhi, opposite the INA market, Dilli Haat is an open-air market with a vast food plaza and craft bazaar. It’s super easy to get here. You can take a metro, uber, public transport or simply drive down. The nearest metro station is INA that is connected through Delhi Metro’s yellow and pink lines. Tickets to Dilli Haat cost 30 per person for Adults, 20 per person for Children and 100 per person for Foreign Tourists. You can either buy tickets online or at the counter, near the main entrance gate.
Best time and tips to visit Dilli Haat
- Best time to visit Dilli Haat: While any time is a good time to visit the place, I prefer going on a weekday as the crowd is less and you can spend more time at each stall. Evenings are always better than day time due to pleasant weather and impressive entertainment acts that usually happen in the evenings.
- What not to miss: Don’t miss the momos and fruit beer, special Rajasthani Thali and piping hot jalebis with rabdi or hot milk in winters and kulfi in summers. I love buying artificial jewellery from the complex – dearth cheap and very unique designs. You can also get henna designs painted on your hands or hair braiding from the lady hawkers sitting outside the entrance gate of Dilli Haat.
- What to wear – since you are required to walk a lot, a pair of comfortable shoes and breathable clothing is ideal.
- Ask before shooting: Shooting is allowed, but don’t carry a tripod. Usually, shopkeepers don’t hesitate in talking, but they expect you to buy something in return.
Here’s a video about my Aadi Mahotsav experience at Dilli Haat, INA
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