After exploring the local food scene at The Mall Road and the Middle bazaar, we descended to the Lower bazaar to try some of the popular local delicacies. With crowded lanes lined with shops selling everything from wooden items, winter clothes to mobile phones and vegetables, this buzzing marketplace, is the main shopping destination for the visitors, locals, and villagers.
Here at Lower Bazaar, one can buy affordable and inexpensive daily products. Hence the shopping scenario here is less sophisticated than its upper counterpart for it was meant to cater to the needs of the common public. It also has a huge sabzi mandi, a delightful place full of fresh fruits and veggies. The street food culture here is a mix of traditional delicacies and popular fast food influences. Hence along with Savitoj, we are on a gastronomic joyride at this part of the town. Don't miss out on the end where the humble culinary experience transcends into a humane experience.
We began our journey from the sabzi mandi or the vegetable market. The crowded narrow lanes were lined with shops selling fragrant fruits and fresh vegetables. Here we spotted the lingdu or the Fiddlehead greens, a quintessentially local vegetable-essentially a fern- that is commonly consumed in this region.
We then arrived at the 117 years old sweet shop Meher Chand and Bros whose legacy is a testimony of the bygone era when colonial rule was at its peak. It is still one of the most sought-after sweet shops in Shimla. Here we tried three different sweetmeats-chocolate(milk burfi with no trace of chocolate), panjiri ladoo, and meshu-that were pretty good. We also picked up some historical anecdotes about the place from the owner.
After the pure ghee stuff, it was time to savour some lip-smacking pickles and preserves from another legendary place known as Thakur Bharata. This shop too is a very old establishment that is coveted for its traditionally prepared pickles that are made with good quality ingredients. We tried four things of which the Amla and Gajar ka Murabba were simple yet phenomenal.
From there we went to our next stop Drigen Chinese Fast Food Corner, an inconspicuous veg eatery that is immensely popular with the young crowd. Here we had delicious momos and an interesting go-to snack called Kurkej which was essentially super tasty fried veggie sticks.
Next was the turn of a veg hotdog from a small roadside stall. It was the yummy chutney and the well-made potato patties that made it a tasty treat.
At last, we arrived at the Kamala Nehru Hospital premises to experience the langar service there run by the charitable organization Almighty Blessings. They serve free meals in the evening to all visitors. Savitoj informed us how the local communities like schools, restaurants, etc contribute effectively to the functioning of this heartwarming initiative. We also visited the kitchen, took part in the service, and at the end relish the simple meal of rice dal and roti. It was a surreal feeling to learn about these selfless acts of kindness and compassion. The food was superlative as it was served with such love and care.
We thank Savitoj for guiding us in this amazing exploration in and around the Lower Bazaar.