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Ghantewala in Chandni Chowk, in Delhi

The Ghantewala Halwai (घंटेवाला हलवाई) in Chandni Chowk in Delhi, established in 1790 CE was one of the oldest halwais (traditional sweet shop) in India [1][2][3]

It has catered to Mughal Emperors, Presidents and Prime Ministers of India, from Nehru to his grandson Rajiv Gandhi.[2] Over the years, it has also remained a popular visitors attraction in Old Delhi area and known for its Sohan Halwa [4] This popular mithaiwala also ventured into the e-commerce space by partnering with a famous online food retailing website

In July 2015 the shop closed down due to falling sales and increasing competition.


Sohan Halwa (top shelf) and other traditional Indian sweets at Ghantewala in Chandni Chowk
Emperor Shah Alam II, (r. 1759 - 1806) during whose rule the shop was established and got its name

It was founded by Lala Sukh Lal Jain who had arrived in the walled city of Delhi from Amber, India, a few years after Sindhia restored Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (r. 1759 - 1806). The shop is now run by his descendants.

There are a couple of theories about how it got its name "Ghantewala"[5] According to one, it was so named by Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II himself who asked his servants to get sweets from the ghante ki neeche wali dukaan (Shop below the bell) shop, which in time got shortened to simply Ghantewala. In those days the area was sparsely populated and the Emperor who used to live in the Red Fort could hear the toll of the bell for the school which was located in near the shop.[2][6][7]

Ghantewala's sweets were already famous before the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (Ghadar).[8] The newspaper, 'Dihli Urdu Akhbar' of August 23, 1857 reported about the rebels from other regions become softened after they discovered the luxuries of the royal capital:

..The moment they have a round of Chandni Chowk ... enjoy the sweetmeats of Ghantawala, they lose all urge to fight and kill the enemy.[8]

The Lala began by selling Mishri Mawa, a Rajasthani specialty. They now have around 40 to 50 different varieties of sweets that they keep changing according to the season or festivals, according to Sushant Jain, who is a seventh generation descendant.[7] The family split a few decades ago and another branch has a shop nearby near the fountain. One shop is closed while another shop has changed its name as Ghantewala Confectioners run by a descendant, Nirmal Jain [9] It is situated close to the Gali Paranthe Wali also in Chandni Chowk. The 225-year-old landmark sweet shop in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, finally downed its shutters on 2/7/2015, breaking many a sweet-lovers’ heart and signalling how the changing environs of the Walled City claimed another piece of the Capital’s heritage.


According to the owner Sushant Jain,[7] the 'Sohan Halwa' is a favourite of patrons from as far away as the Gulf. Pista Burfi and perennial favourite like 'motichoor ki ladoo', Kalakand, Karachi halwa[10] and snacks like makkan choora are also popular among the patrons. Today it also sells traditional Indian snacks, like namkeen, samosa, kachori etc., besides festive sweets like gujiyas around Holi.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

When film producer B.R. Chopra made his comedy Hindi film Chandni Chowk (1954), he made sure that a replica of the shop is included in his set. He said: "Chandni Chowk without Ghantewala? Unthinkable." Near the end of the movie, the dramatic finale occurs right in front of Ghantewala counter, with a sign in English and Urdu proclaiming the association of the shop with the Mughal emperors.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rediscovering Delhi: The Story of Shahjahanabad, by Maheshwar Dayal, "Feroze". Published by S. Chand, 1975
  2. ^ a b c The royal treat in Chandni Chowk The Hindu, Nov 07, 2002.
  3. ^ top 10 "Food Wonderlands of the World." NDTV
  4. ^ Ghantewala in Delhi Lonely Planet
  5. ^ "The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum - Article". 2000-08-27. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  6. ^ "Chowk and cheese". September 28, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Sweet delights". Business Standard. Oct 31, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b W. Dalrymple, The Last Mughal, 2006.
  9. ^ "Why the 200-year-old taste shop won't budge". The Times of India. Apr 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Supersize me". India Today. December 20, 2007. 
  11. ^ Chandni Chowk 1954, B.R. Chopra producer, scene at 1:58:13

External links[edit]