Shahjahnabad, the walled city walk, Old Delhi

In this present day cosmopolitan Delhi, there exists an ancient walled city which can be rightly called the soul of the city-Shahjahanabad or commonly referred to as purani dilli (old Delhi). Built by the great Mughal emperor Shahjahan, Old Delhi was once a city of imposing havelis with impressive architecture, elegant mosques with beautiful gardens and colourful bazaars each focused on selling specialized articles. The growing population and urbanization has no doubt changed the face of this once beautiful city where you now see crowds of people rushing here and there, hear sounds of the horns of vehicles and modern day utilities coexisting with the ancient architecture. All of this may seem a bit overwhelming but accompanied by the right expert can make this experience an enriching one. Travelling in a rickshaw no doubts gives you a glimpse of the olden character of the walled city but to really get an insight into it we suggest go walking through its bylanes escorted by your expert who has a story to tell for each lane you pass by making you truly imagine the glory of the city as it was in the past.

Seeing the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and the main lanes of Chandni Chowk is definitely a must during a visit to Old Delhi, but there is a lot more to see and experience. Ghaleb ki Haveli (the mansion of the renowned Persian poet); Razia Sultana’s (Delhi’s only female ruler before Indira Gandhi) tomb near Kalan Masjid; Begum Samru’s Palace of 1806; Haveli of Zeenat Mahal, Lal Kuan Bazar, the oldest sweets shop of Delhi, Dariba Kalan-’Street of the Incomparable Pearl’, Dariba Kalan, which used to be the popular market of precious stones, gems, gold and silver jewelry. Till today it is known as jewelers’ street although most of shops in the street now deal in silver and costume jewelry. You also come across “Paranthe wali Gali” (‘gali’ means street that sells ‘paranthas’ – an Indian food delicacy) which has seen almost three passed centuries. It houses descendants of the royal chefs of yore who make Paranthas….and while exploring the wonders of old Delhi on foot, an occasional peep into the erstwhile havelis will offer you not the grandiose of the past but a peep into the lifestyle of the people today doing their daily chores, who will not be offended by your surprise visit but will instead greet you with a smile. There’s a lot more still less explored waiting to be explored!

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