New Delhi, Nov 8 (UNI) The clock at Fatehpuri Masjid in the Chandni Chowk may have ceased to chime but the name "Ghantewala" continues to ring a bell for lovers of traditional sweets.
Ghatewala's claim to fame is that it is said to be the oldest sweet shop in the city, having started the business more than two centuries ago in 1790. Sushant Jain, the seventh generation owner of the shop, claims that special care is taken to ensure that the authentic traditional flavour of the sweets and savouries is maintained.
About the name of the shop, he narrated a legend. Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II used to stop for partaking sweets from this shop whenever his procession passed by. The emperor's elephant also got habituated to these sweets and their aroma. One day when the emperor did not care to stop, it refuse to budge and started shaking its head, setting the bell slung across its neck ring continuously.
The pachyderm moved only after being served its usual quota of sweets. From then on, people started referring to the shop by the name "Ghantewala", the bell ringer.
Mr Jain also claimed that one of his great grandfathers was the inventor of the "Sohan Halwa". This was a special dish prepared on a sudden whimsy of the emperor, who wanted to eat a new sweet. Thus a new crunchy sweet was born filled with dry fruits, sprouts and sugar.
Priced at Rs 260 to 280 per Kg it is among the most expensive in the shop along with others like "Pista Ladoo" and "Dadan Launj" but continues to be in high demand.
"We love it, in today's time people cannot really afford to eat sweets all the time as it could easily make anyone obese but in festivals we have the liberty to experiment and eat lavishly and for this cost is certainly not an issue if we are guaranteed the best," said one of the customers at the counter.
Starting from the Red Fort, eastern end of the Chandni Chowk, the market spreads straight up to Fatehpuri Masjid encompassing Katra Neel, Dariba, Nai Sarak, Sheeshganj Gurudwara, Favvarra (fountain) with Ballimaran in between, all displaying the astonishing array of small and big sweet shops selling a wide range of Punjabi, Marwari, Rajasthani and Bengali delicacies.