Many of us knows Delhi as the capital of India. Those who are bit more aware, might consider it as bustling metro city which represents the modern India. But not many knows that the capital city is still very much attached to its history and culture. Well within the heart of Delhi lies a small part that has preserved its roots and history and called as Old Delhi. Visiting this part is an experience in its own with a pre-historic world charm. In the 17th century, the then ruler of Delhi – Shahjahan built the city in the grandest fashion. The city was then called as Shahjahanabad and was wonderfully built. The highlight was the huge Red-stone Fort, with beautiful gardens, fountains and good market for trading covering the alleys, ehilr travellers and traders from far west Arab were regular visitors here. Since then, the area has lost its worldly charm and only a few sites remain in not so good condition but still providing a glimpse of how wonderful this place used to be.
In today’s time, the modern New Delhi city has overtaken it and the older part looks really dull but surly, it has not lost its Old world charm. The main area, Chandni Chowk, is crowded & chaotic with baffling orchestra of smell, sight and sounds. But that’s what makes this place so interesting.
The walk to this area takes you through bazaars, historic temples and local life in this area. We started the walk from the Digambara Jain Temple, located opposite Red Fort. The temple is dedicated to Lord Mahavira and Lord Parasnath and also has a bird hospital in the compound for social service. Next door is the Gauri Shankar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Linga in the main sanctum is believed to be 800 years Old and the temple also has statues of Lord Shiva, wife Parvathi, and sons Lord Ganesha and Lord Karthik. We continue future down the lane through the busy streets where we reach the Jalebiwala, a century old shop selling delicious Jalebi’s (deep-fry syrupy squiggles).
Further down this shop is the Dariba Kalan area, with many shops popular for jewellery, silver and gold. At the next crossing is the Kinari Bazaar, the market for buying wedding decorations and accessories.
We then walk further through the narrow lanes, witnessing some of the oldest shops as well as architectural structures still remaining in the area. Next stop is the Paratha Wali Galli, the area dedicated to eating joints and the highlight being Paratha (Indian style flat breads with filling). Full of verities and flavours, it gives your smelling senses a hint of spices.
Walk further to the Sunheri Masjid, an 18th century mosque and not far away is the Sisganj Gurudwara, built at the place where the 9th Guru of Sikh – Guru Teg Bahadur was killed but Mughals.
The walk takes around 1.5 hours which can be changed depending upon your interest. The walk is not just a visit to these market places and temples but experiencing the local life in this area. It will be full of surprises, the rickshaw pullers (tricycle pullers) through the narrow lanes which are already so crowded, the bazaar lanes which are never empty, the smell of delicacies at every nook and corner, the local people expressing themselves – negotiation with the sellers, enjoying the food and grooving in this surrounding, it is a surreal environment but surely worth experiencing.