In 1712 Lala Sukhlal halwai came to Delhi from Jaipur.He first started selking from the footpath then later bought a shop. He huge bells from its roof. These were like the bells one sees in temples.
Servants would ring it at regular intervals. It is said that when Maharaja Scindia came to help Shah Alam, he set up a court for the Emperor in Chandini Chowk. When the Emperor came to attend that court, the sweet shop bells rang loudly to welcome him.
Next to the house, which had the sweet shop was the haveli of Raja Jugal Kishore, whose entrance also had a bell hanging on it.
The halwai became famous as Ghantewala and when the ladies of the Raja’s family would go any where the kahhar would refer to their house as ‘ ghante neeche’ ( below the Ghanta).
Ghantewala Halwai would make pista barfi, moti pak, tirkhunt, bonat badam, khoya, nuqti ke laddu, imarti, makhan, pheni, andarse and many other sweets.
But his kalakand, sohan halwa, sohan papdi and nan khatai was very famous.
Trays of sweets would go from here to the palaces of kings, Begums and Shahzadis.
Delhiwalas have forgotten the name of the halwai but everyone remembers the name Ghantewala. He was famous all over India.
When a few years later there was an exhibition in London he was called there.
During weddings a tray covered with green leaves containing these 7 containers – shirindan, namakdan, mewadan, khoyadan, rabdidan, malaidan, and achardan (different varieties of sweets,savouries,dry fruits and milk products ) along with Ghantewala’s Ram puri was a speciality. Now everyone has forgotten these names and customs.
These were days of peace and prosperity and things were cheap and plentiful.
A short anecdote from these days : One day one of Lala’s acquaintance , named Hansmukh came to the shop. He threw a one paisa coin towards Lala and said, ” Here, Lala take this paisa and give me a piece of pista barfi and return the change.”
Lala took the coin and gave it to his servant saying, ” Put this on the tram track.”
The servant obeyed the master. After a while the tram passed over the coin, breaking it in two. The servant came and gave the two pieces to his master.
Lala ji put a bit of pista barfi on one piece and giving both to Hansmukh said, ” Here you are. Here’s your barfi and this is your change.”
Unfortunately like all good things this too has ended and the shop put down shutters last week forever.
( based on Maheshwar Dayal’s account)