|Tours » Walking Tour of Old Delhi
Want a taste of Old Delhi? Take a walk down the streets of Chandni Chowk for a lesson in living history.
With so much old-world charm in the air, a tour of Chandni Chowk's memorable lanes comes highly recommended. Enter the market in Old Delhi, which has its Pin Code as 110006 (or Delhi 6), driving along the Jama Masjid.
Focus on some unsung icons of the area and steer clear of the well-known landmarks, like the Parathewali Gali, the Ghantewala sweet shop and Gurudwara Sisganj, where Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded. There's also the Digambar Jain Temple and its bird hospital, if you are in the mood to visit it.
The next halt is the Hakim nearby, whose sherbets (costing between Rs 90 and Rs 175 per bottle) and thandai we swear by, and so does India's elite, apparently, including the Modis and Singhanias. The quaint little shop, set up in 1861, has dusty shelves lined with labeled bottles. Surendra Prasad Jain claims the medicines can cure anything from minor colds, stomach ailments to paralysis.
Chandni Chowk is home to high pitched business activity. Bullion trading thrives here; it has the largest cloth market in Asia and also the continent's largest spice market at Khadi Baoli. It's also home to an electronics market, the paper market Chawri Bazaar, and Dariba Kalan — the best place to buy your gold and silver. Jeweller Satish Jain of Multan Singh & Sons, who shells out a mere Rs 100 as monthly rent, informs, "Here one can buy stuff from Rs 10,000 to Rs 10 lakh."
We now head towards Kinari Bazaar, the trousseau market, with colourful bursts of red, gold and silver from the turbans, zardozi dupattas, jewellery and garlands. The lanes are bursting at the seams with shops, people and cycle rickshaws. In the old days, the zari is said to consist of real gold, silver and copper. The old part of the city offers a far gentler world, with friendly shopkeepers and where women can feel safe despite the apparent chaos.
A deft detour into a byline sees one standing before some picturesque old havelis. By now, you have been fed at practically every few steps, starting from bedvi puri aloo, along with imar, opposite the police thana next to Jama Masjid. Progress to parmal barfis at Hazaarilal Jain Khurchan Wale, a kind of 'gajak paan' at a street corner and finally, heavenly pyaaz kachoris and mung daal halwa at Bhikaram's.
The tour ends with a stopover at the Hanuman Temple close to the market, but not before visiting Khadi Baoli, where one can pick up anything from spices to fresh fruits, even "sweet corn" offered by a woman, who blushes as she's teased for using the modern lingo. A visit to the astrologer Anil Kumar Pandey, who claims to cure depression through the teachings of the Bhagvad Gita, may also be of interest.