Nauchandi Mela is an annual Indian fair which starts on the second Sunday after Holi. The festival takes places in Meerut’s Nauchandi Ground and lasts for approximately one month. Meerut is a city in Uttar Pradesh which is around 3 hours from Delhi.
Nauchandi Mela started in the late 1600s when it was just a cattle trading event. Soon, it developed in a grander celebration and comprised of activities other than trading.
Movies were at one time the highlight of the Nauchandi Mela. People from nearby villages and towns would come especially in the evening with their families to watch movies together.
So popular were the films that there used to be special trains services in the early mornings to take these people back home after the mela.
In its present avatar, movies are not typical, but locals do put up shops and have fun selling and buying items.
Nauchandi Mela is one of the most crowded places that I have visited. There are people of all religions and classes, having fun together with their families and friends.
The fair starts at about 5 pm, to avoid the scorching heat of the day, and continues till late in the night.
Everyone loves to visit Nauchandi a few times during the month, and there is always a good possibility that you might bump into old friends there.
In the beginning, it might seem a bit dirty or crowded, but you will soon get used to the conditions and start focusing on the better parts of the Nauchandi Mela.
The mela has a temple called Nav Chandi Mata Mandir, situated on the grounds. There is also a train called Nauchandi Express which connects Lucknow, the state capital, to Meerut.
The fair occupies a vast area, with many entrances. The primary access is easy to locate because of several people passing through. It is a quick walk from the parking area, and locals are happy to guide you.
Outside the entrance are small stalls which sell toys and wooden utensils, but it is only once you enter, that you realise what Nauchandi is all about.
Some of my favourite excursions at the mela include balloon shooting. The crowded stands are full of people with competitive spirits and lots of confidence.
I am quite good at it if I do say so myself. I shot down all but one of the balloons I aimed at. The balloon stands don’t give out prizes, but playing the game is a reward in itself.
Then there are the Ferris Wheels. They come in many sizes; however, I was amazed by some of the huge ones, which I didn’t expect to see in India.
I decided to go on a smaller Ferris wheel, with just six seats. Alas, my brother didn’t experience the same joy as I did because he was too scared to go on it.
We also come across some food stalls, serving Nankhatai, Gajak and Rewri, which are all specialities from Meerut. Since we were visiting the Nauchandi Mela after dinner, we skipped eating any one of these delicacies.
Although the food is delicious, it might be best to avoid it if you don’t have a strong stomach.
Nauchandi Mela also has many toy stands. They take up most of the ground area. The toy shops typically sell small plastic utensils, which in the past, came in steel.
This made my mom relive moments of her childhood when she would get together with her friends and play with these utensils.
While the toys are usually of low quality, they give children the same amount of pleasure that higher-quality toys do.
You can also find some stalls selling bits and bobs for everyday use. From hair styling materials to cheap jewellery there is something for everyone here.
I enjoyed going to the Nauchandi Mela, and it is a place I would love to visit again in a few years.
I bought some items that I now keep as souvenirs to remind me of this short and exciting experience.
If you are visiting Delhi, it’s a good idea to take a day trip to Meerut and experience this iconic mela. It promises extraordinary sights, sounds, smells, and delicious bites you are bound to cherish for years to come.Saanvi’s Something Something Blog.
Image Source – Pixabay