Masala Chowk is a new open-air food court in Ram Niwas Garden where you can enjoy the flavors of Jaipur. Masala means spice and chowk means public square or an open area. The word hints at a place with a variety of kiosks serving street food. Initially, it was meant for the tourists since it is close to the popular tourist attraction, Albert Hall Museum in Ram Niwas garden. However, it has become a runaway success among the locals.
Masala Chowk brought back memories of Kiran cafe which was very popular among Jaipur residents for years and operated in another part of Ram Niwas Garden. In 1970-80’s, Kiran café was one of the few options for eating out in Jaipur. It was a favorite weekend destination for the families until authorities decided to pull a plug as the millennium approached. Kiran Cafe was extremely popular because of affordable prices and consistent quality.
Masala Chowk has become immensely popular among the locals. The reasons for its runaway success is understandable. One, there is no other open-air food court in Jaipur. Two, it offers street food at a single place. Members of a family find it convenient to pick what they like and still eat together.
Three, many legendary food outlets from the walled city area or old Jaipur have an outlet in Masala Chowk. Visiting old part of the city is difficult given the chaos, traffic, and parking problems. It is easier to visit Masala Chowk as it is much more accessible. Four, clubbed together all these food outlets offer a huge assortment of street food right from chats, gol-gappas, tea, dosa, samosa and so on. Lastly, the food is affordable and doesn’t pinch pocket. There’s one for everyone.
Here is what you should try at Masala Chowk. (It is not an exhaustive list)
Samrat is well-known for Samosa and Jalebi.
Somilal is famous for Mishri Mawa and Gulab Sakri
Shankar Samosewala is famous for…but, of course, everyone’s favorite Samosa
Gulabji Chaiwala is famous for its tea.
Raman Dosa is famous for Masala Dosa and Uttapam. Caveat- It doesn’t taste like the ones in South India!
Gopal Singh Patasi – Gol-Gappa or Pani Puri
Prem Prakash Samosa is famous for low spice and low salt yet yummy Samosa.
Delhi Chaat and Cafe – Chola Bhatura, Aaloo Tikki & Chola, and Dahi Papdi Chaat.
Residents who grew up in 70’s & 80’s fondly recall this place as a circus ground. Many Indian and Russian circus camped here providing affordable entertainment option to the people. In 90’s the concept of circus went away and so did circus. Later an amusement park by the name of wonderland operated for a couple of years. This place has been vacant ever since Wonderland closed down. The Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) continue to call this place “Wonderland Park”.
Masala Chowk is over-crowded during the weekends and traffic jam is rampant. The earmarked car parking lot for the Masala Chowk is only for 20 cars.
However, one can find cars parked in vicinity in excess of this capacity. Masala Chowk Parking is a bit of menace as one needs to park their car at Ramniwas Bagh underground parking lot near Ravindra Manch theatre once the dedicated parking lot becomes full. Another car parking lot can be found near Ramniwas Garden entry gate on JLN Marg. This is south gate of Ram Niwas Garden.
To reduce the influx of crowd, the JDA authorities decided to charge an entry fee of Rs 10 per person in Masala Chowk. I’m not sure if it has any desirable effect. On a positive note, it is not taxing for the middle class.
There is a park area attached to Masala Chowk. JDA, the local authority responsible for implementing this concept has plans to hold various musical and entertainment programs for the public in this park.
Masala Chowk Timings – It opens at 9 AM. There is no standard closing time since every outlet follows a different time. Generally, it is open between 9 AM to 10 PM.
How to reach Masala Chowk? Masala Chowk is situated in Ram Niwas Garden, near Albert Hall museum. Reach Albert Hall Museum with the help of Google map and then walk in the south direction from its ticket counter, Masala Chowk will be on your left side. One can even walk down to Masala Chowk from Johari Bazaar within 12-18 minutes.
Masala Chowk provides an authentic Jaipur experience and is worth a visit. With its central location, the deal only gets sweeter! Your timing needs to be right to enjoy Masala Chowk experience. I recommend visiting Masala Chowk during the daytime or early evenings to avoid the crowd. It is best to combine it with a visit to Albert Hall Museum. Masala Chowk is sure to keep your pocket happy with its affordable food price.
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