The historic importance of Chandni Chowk can never be denied. Chandni Chowk is one of the most historic thoroughfares of the world, which was planned by Princes Jahanara as he Moonlight Courtyard.
Chandni Chowk stretched from the Lahore Gate of Lal Qila to the Fatehpur Masjid. It was 1389.8 meters long and 36.5 meters wide. Through the centre, flanked by trees, flowed the canal of Ali Mardan Khan (it was filled up during the British regime). There was tank centrally situated at a place where, later on, the Clock Tower was erected. The portion of the Chandni Chowk, lying between Lal Qila and the Dariba, was called the Urdu or Military Bazar. West of the Dariba was the Flower Market up to the Kotwali, followed by the Jewellers Bazar, and Chandni Chowk proper, the name of which was gradually extended to the whole street.
Then comes the Dariba (the street leading from the Dufferin Municipal Hospital to Chandni Chowk) which played an important part in the war of 1857. It opened upon Chandni Chowk through the non-existent Khuni Darwaza (so caked fir the massacre which took place near it under the orders of Nadir /shah). It was through this gate (not to be confused with the Khuni Darwaza on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg) that the 3rd British assaulting column advanced on September 4, 1857, along the Dariba towards Jama Masjid but was driven back by stiff opposition.
The Delhi Corporation Office where once stood the Clock Tower, with four faces and a fine chime of bells, stood 33.5 meters high on the site of an ancient tank. It was designed and built for the municipality by E.J. Martin, Executive Engineer of Delhi. A portion of this tower fell down. It was therefore, decided to demolish it.
The Fatehpur Masjid is the west end terminus of Chandni Chowk. Chandni Chowk has witnessed many scenes – happy as well as tragic – the pomp and glory of Mughal times, the plunder and massacre by Nadir Shah’s soldiers, the stately royal procession in 1911 (when the Delhi Durbar was held), a bomb thrown at Lord Hardings, the Viceroy, while he was proceeding in state to the Red Fort on December 23, 1912, and he wild tumultuous crowds surging towards the Red Fort to celebrate their independence on August 15, 1947. Apart from these historic associations, Chandni Chowk is justly famous as the commercial centre of Delhi.