Delhi is known as one of the most vibrant cities in India. With the rich cultural heritage, Delhi flaunts a multi-cultural landscape in India. Being considered as one of the cosmopolitan cities in the world, Delhi is basically a good blend of traditional and modern lifestyle. The city literally celebrates diversity at its best. But the question here is,“Do we really know our own City”? I have serious doubts. We know the city from the pages of our history books. It is important to come out of the pages and explore our very own Delhi. Being a traveller myself, I was unaware of many things about Delhi’s rich history until I took the rickshaw ride with India City Walks last month.
It was like revisiting history by exploring those narrow alleys that tell a thousand stories. I started my rickshaw ride with one of the city experts from Jama Mosque.
The advantage of exploring the city with an expert is that you are not only stepping in those corners, but you become enriched by end of the day. The history behind the monuments, the war stories, causes, and also the science behind those magnificent historical structures not only makes you wonder about your own country but also contribute immensely in making you a responsible traveller. The best thing about this customized rickshaw ride is the services it provides during your ride. It not only takes you to every nook and corner of the city, but also provides you authentic information along with access to rare places.
I chose to explore Old Delhi with India City Walks. Well, whenever we talk about Old Delhi, the very first impression comes to our mind is virtually the most chaotic, busy, noisy, dirty and overcrowded streets. But we tend to ignore the historical importance this place holds in the Indian history. From Red Fort to Jama Mosque, Old Delhi itself is a place of many unheard tales.
As I started my journey, my first stop was Digambara Jain Temple. What amazed me was not the temple but to know that this temple houses a Bird Hospital on the campus where they provide free services to all kinds of birds. Have you ever heard about this?
Interestingly, visitors are allowed to go inside the hospital only during office hours from 8 am to 8 pm. There are strict instructions to remove your shoes and leather items before you enter the hospital. Interestingly, it can handle maximum 60 injured birds per day.
The most common birds which are brought to this hospital are peacocks, parrots, pigeons, sparrows and domestic fowls. This was undoubtedly a unique experience for me.
Well, taking a rickshaw ride on the bumpy roads of Chandni Chowk has its own charm. You suddenly become a part of the crowd and the lifestyle. I was heading towards one of the famous mosques in Old Delhi called Sunheri Masjid, built by Roshan-Ud-Daula, a Mughal Noble, in 1721.
Located in the bustling street of Chandni Chowk, it is also known as Golden Mosque. The three distinct domes of the mosque were constructed with gilded copper. The architecture of the Sunehri Masjid is beautiful with green flower-shaped patterns carved on the pillars. The arched doors are painted light gray, which took my attention. I really liked the courtyards of the Sunehri Masjid which was tranquil and serene.
Did it ever happen that you are invited by the fragrance of spices in middle of the street? Here I am talking about the famous spice market called Khari Baoli in Chandni Chowk. According to history, spice market in Delhi started in the 17th century. Apparently, Khari Baoli is the biggest spice market in Asia. I must tell you that the aromas of spices were so inviting that one cannot hold back from visiting this market. Interestingly, once I stepped in, I was stunned to see the variety of spices. Now I realized why Mughal cuisines are so rich in taste . It was a culinary delight for me visiting this part of the Delhi. It is located near the Fatehpuri Masjid which was built in 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum.She was one of the wives of Shah Jahan.
Baoli means step well and Khari means salt. It is said that there was a salty step well here which was used for bathing. But in the present scenario, you can’t find that step well. Not just that, you will be amazed to know that this market is also known for those rare and exotic dry fruits as well.
I was pleasantly surprised when I was handed over the flavored tea leaves in one of the shops in Khari Baoli.
While strolling around these lanes, I landed at another very prominent market called Kinari Market. Kinari means edging or borders.This market is famous for wedding finery from sehra or grooms turbans, ornate lehengas, bridal veils, to gold brocade sherwanis. One can buy your entire wedding wardroom here. This market is full of small shops selling ribbons, borders for saree, gift boxes, tissue cloth bags, and gold- plated trays for weddings or many special occasions.I love visiting markets not just for the sake of shopping, but to witness varied emotions of people as well.
I did not realise when the time had passed in those narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk. Finally, I landed at my last stop, Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli, which is located in Ballimaaran, a narrow lane where barely one rickshaw can pass.
This area is predominately a Muslim area where this Haveli is located. I must tell you that if you don’t know this area well, there is no way you can find this Haveli.My first impression of the Haveli was not that great.
It was not a Haveli rather a small courtyard filled with a couple of portraits and studded with photo frames. You can also see some of his handwriting preserved there.
While having this journey on the busy streets of Old Delhi, I realized that Chandni Chowk is not just a busy and chaotic street in Old Delhi. Rather, it holds a prominent place in the pages of Indian rich cultural heritage with many unheard tales from a bygone era.
It was an enriching experience for me with India City Walks who gave me this rare opportunity to discover my own Delhi differently with its Rickshaw Tour. A special mention for my City Expert who not only took me through these historical monuments, but also helped me understand the importance of these places by sharing the history behind them.
About Rickshaw Tour :
In Old Delhi, after the success of ‘Delhi Walks’ walking tours, recently, ‘Rickshaw Tours’ as a product has been launched to give a twist to the whole Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) experience. The custom made rickshaws managed by ‘India City Walks’ have been designed to showcase the history and culture of the heritage city in a comfortable and secure manner, which is the priority of travelers who come to explore the city of Old Delhi. An ‘India City Walks’ rickshaw tour is one ride that allows you to capture live photographs of the living fabric of Old Delhi, leaving you with innumerable memorable and unparalleled moments.
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