“Dilli hai Dilwalon ki Delhi”, the old Delhi or Purani dilli was founded by Shah Jahan in 1639, when he shifted his capital from Agra. The city was then named as “Shahjahanabad”. It is mainly known for its bazaars, street food, shopping, and Islamic architecture; Jama Masjid is the most notable example, standing tall in the midst of the old city.
The Purani dilli is known to everyone and anyone who has gone there once. Everyone has seen the old remaining buildings, kabutoors bazi, mast tangy chaat, the paranthe wali gali and the excitement of shopping thok mein.
But let me take you to the hidden gems of “SADDI PURANI DILLI”.
1. Lala Chunnamal ki Haveli: The Haveli of the Wealthiest man of Shahjahanabad
It is a rare haveli (old style Indian courtyard mansion) surviving in a well–preserved condition within the old Delhi area. It was built using traditional material including Lahori bricks and lime mortar. It is spread over an acre of land, with 150 rooms built on three floors. There is an inscription on the wall of the mansion’s drawing room stating that it was built in 1848. However some parts of it were added in 1864.
2. Ghalib Ki Gali: Ghalib ki Haveli
Mirza Ghalib used to stay there and this hidden gem is now an heritage site, located in the gali Qasim jan, Ballimaran, Old Delhi, and reflects the period when the Mughal era was on the decline in India. The ghalib shahab poems have been written all over the haveli. The museum also have a life size replica of the poet in a realistic setting with a hookah in his hand. Portraits of Ustad Zauq, Abu Zafar, Momin, and other noted contemporaries of Ghalib can also be seen.
On December, former Delhi Chief Minister unveiled a sculpture of the poet and commissioned by poet and Hindi film lyricist Gulzar. “Manzil milegi bhatak kar hi sahi, gumrah vho hain jo ghar se nikle hi nahi”.
3. Haveli Dharampura: Originally called as the teen chowk ki haveli
Haveli Dharampura makes you feel the Mughal era through the architectural beauty of the Haveli teamed up with the amenities of the present era. Haveli Dharampura offers five-star hospitality for the discerning leisure and business traveler.
This hidden three-storied building has 14 beautifully furnished rooms comprising 2 Shahjahan Suites, 6 Diwan-e-Khas rooms & 6 Jharoka Rooms. Every room has been tastefully designed and has a unique ambiance and charm, keeping the royal Mughal era in mind. The Haveli is currently owned by BJP leader Vijay Goel.
4. Chitli Qabar Bazaar: The Mazar of the Goat.
This hidden gem is a typical Indian market, having all materials at a wholesale rate, residing in the center of the Chandni chowk giving the shopkeepers a vast range of items at an affordable rate.
5. Bhagirath Palace or the Haveli of Begum Samru
Begum Samru’s palace in Chandni Chowk, now called Bhagirath Palace, was built in a garden gifted by Akbar Shah, a later day Mughal, to the Begum when he ascended the throne after the death of Shah Alam in 1806. Her palatial building still stands in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. We have a TV drama series on her and Lara dutta played the role of her.
The old delhi vibe in itself is amazing as you get to shop, eat and roam. The ambience, crowd is out of this worls and all the way these hidden gems are waiting to be seen. So on your next visit to Chandni Chowk must visit these hidden gems.
Edited by Anupama Roy