The India International Trade Fair is unlike any other event in India. It may sound like a business exhibition, but it is completely the opposite. The IITF is perhaps the best way to experience India in about 3 days. There is shopping, food, culture, performance & people – from literally all over the country. It is a platform showcasing artisans and craftsmen from rural India, innovations of small businesses, food delicacies of almost every state/union territory, government initiatives and innovations, new products of corporates and performing arts of a vast and diverse nation.
The fair takes place every year in mid November at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. It runs for about 14 days in total. Pragati Maidan has about 70,000 sq mt of space in the heart of the capital city of Delhi. It is well connected by road and even has its own metro station. So, reaching the fair is convenient for visitors. The fair grounds have small buildings called halls or pavilions. The main attraction of IITF are the various state pavilions, which line up along the main street that cuts through Pragati Maidan. There are pavilions of almost every Indian state including Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerela, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Preadesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Jammu Kashmir, etc. etc. Even the union territory of Andaman & Nicobar had its own space.
Besides state pavilions, there are halls dedicated to various foreign countries, for consumer products, tech-products, healthcare products, jute products, handicrafts, khadi (authentic Indian cloth), corporate gifts, research institutes show their innovations, and there is pretty much everything that you can possibly imagine. We saw women from a village in eastern India demonstrate how weaving is done on their traditional loom, we met people from Afghanistan selling rugs and enjoyed tasting white honey from Kyrgyzstan. Besides these halls, there are spaces for open air performances. Each evening is dedicated to one state of India and entertainment performances involving local dance and music can be seen at these spaces. There is a very vibrant festive atmosphere throughout the 2 weeks of IITF.
Below are some pictures from previous few editions of IITF:
(live dance and music performances at IITF)
(Delhi Pavilion at IITF)
(interiors of the Gujarat Pavilion for creating an ambience)
(people walking past various state pavilions)
(inside Hall 6 with various exhibition stalls)
(Outside Madhya Pradesh Pavilion)
(live performance during evenings)
(Rajasthan Pavilion is very popular among the visitors each year)
(a traditional weaving loom on display)
(North-Easters states participate every year, including Tripura)
One of the more fascinating aspects of this amazing event for me was to have the chance to interact with people from all 4 corners of India. It was especially amazing to interact with people from the remote North-Eastern states of India and from Kashmir. Every time when I stepped into a different pavilion, it felt as if I have been transported to a completely new location. Another cherished experience for me was that of the food. The variety of food at IITF is simply mind blowing. Among my favorites were the brown Rasagulla from Odisha (which is very different from the typical Bengali variant), Chena Gaja also from Odisha, Rabdi and Paneer stuffed Jalebi from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthani Chikki and Jeera soda, assorted jams from Himachal Pradesh, Mukh-vaas from Gujarat, Litti Chokha from Bihar, snacks from Karnataka, Biryani from Andhra Pradesh, and various dishes from many other states. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the food to share as I could not take any. I can however say without a doubt that the scale on which the whole event was organized, and the variety and authenticity of everything on offer was incredible. I literally felt like I had traveled across India in 3 days.
If you want to experience India in a unique way, then I highly recommend you to check out IITF. While it is true that you may not experience the climate or natural beauty of each place, or that nothing beats actually visiting each state (you need loads of time for that), you will surely get a taste of every state of this vast and diverse country. A minimum of 3 days are a must to really take in the experience, as there is a lot of walking to do and a lot of people to meet. Normally, the first 4 days of the fair are for business visitors and the remaining are open to general public. The business days have higher priced tickets (about Rs. 500), but the crowd is minimal. Once the general public starts coming in, it tends to get busy and crowded. But weekdays are a good bet either ways. Weekends will be chaotic for sure. After all, about 30 lakh people visit this fair every year. Whenever you decide to go, one thing is for sure – you will come back exhausted and satisfied.