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Wondering what old Delhi is all about? If you are left completely mesmerized by a place, enthralled by the sights, sounds and the aromas of the surroundings, when you cannot track time and keep wondering that how quickly the day days turns to evening, then you know that you are in Old Delhi. Many people still prefer to call it Purani Dilli, because it keeps that feel alive. Also known as the walled city, old Delhi has been an indispensable part in shaping the culture of Delhi. Be it the historical monuments, the epic eateries, the traditional shopping or the overall rustic feel, Delhi – 6 has been and shall always be an inspiration for one and all. Be it artists or film-makers, nobody has remained untouched by its charm and understated glamor.
History of Old Delhi
Old Delhi name was Shahjahanabad, founded by the popular Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639. It had always been an important center for the Mughals and it remained the capital of the Mughals until the end of the Mughal dynasty. It was Shah Jahan who was the main force behind the walled city getting built from 1638 to 1649 which had the Red Fort and Chandni Chowk. The first wholesale market of Delhi, the hardware market called the ‘Chawri Bazaar’ was opened in the area for public in 1840. Daryaganj was the original cantonment of Delhi. The next wholesale market, Khari Baoli offered a wide variety of dry fruits, spices and herbs and was opened in 1850. Next came the ‘phool mandi’ or the flower market in 1869.
After the fall of the Mughal empire, the British shifted their capital to Calcutta. It remained their capital until around 1911 and it was only then that the British planned building the Lutyen’s Delhi, which is now known as New Delhi. It was built south west of Shahjahanabad and that’s where the difference of Old Delhi and New Delhi crept in. New Delhi became the seat of the government but Old Delhi was still buzzing with activity. Not many people ventured out of the walled city as they considered it their home. But with time things changed and today Old Delhi and New Delhi are essential parts of the culture of Delhi.
The Gates Encircling Old Delhi
When it was formed the walled city resembled the shape of a quarter circle with Red Fort being at the focal point. The city was surrounded by a wall and the enclosed area was about 6.1 sq. km. The entire length of the wall had a total of 14 gates.
Nigambodh gate – northeast
Kashmiri gate – north
Mori gate – north
Kabuli gate – west
Lahori gate – west
Ajmeri gate – southeast
Turkman gate – southeast
Delhi gate – south
During the Mughal times these gates would remain locked at night. Although today the wall has gone, the gates are still standing tall reciting a tale of history and honour. The very famous Khooni Darwaza, south of the Delhi gate which was originally constructed by Sher Shah Suri was just outside the walled city.
Old Delhi Cuisine
The one thing that comes to the mind when one mentions Old Delhi is the delicious food. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, the traditional sweets or the chaat, one cannot escape through the lanes of old Delhi without tasting some of the choicest delicacies.
With modernization, it has adapted the new culture and trend but even today the flavours and aroma of the Mughlai cuisine fills the air. Some of the most famous eating outlets include: Karim’s located near Jama Masjid and Moti Mahal located in Daryaganj. From fragrant Biryani to kebabs, nahari to tandoori chicken the area is paradise on earth.
Chandni Chowk is famous for its paranthe wali gali and the epic Ghantewala sweet shop. The area also has some of the most talked about street food like chaat, kulfi, rabdi etc. So the next time you are visiting Old Delhi make sure that you get a taste of the culture that shall always remain fresh and fragrant. In addition to the delightful taste it is the hospitality and the overall feel of the area that would totally grow on you. Tourists, both foreign and national have been savoring the taste of these dishes from years and years.
Old Delhi Railway station
Established in 1864 the Old Delhi railway station is the oldest railway station of Delhi city. Old Delhi railway station code is DLI and was established near Chandni Chowk when trains from Howrah, Calcutta started operating till Delhi.
It has been an important railway station of north India and before New Delhi railway station it was this Old Delhi railway station that was the center of all attraction. The old Delhi railway station was built nearly 60 years before the New Delhi railway station.
Old Delhi Metro Station
Delhi metro has been rendering its service to the city for a decade now. It has become the new lifeline of the city and has done a phenomenal job in connecting the various parts of the city. The metro station that caters to old Delhi is the underground Chandni Chowk station. The other two stations that are also quite near the area are Kashmere gate and Chawri baazar.
Monuments around Old Delhi
Old Delhi is a like a treasure trunk. It never fails to fascinate and allure you. While you are in the area you can visit you can visit some great monuments and get a peek into the history and culture. Red Fort and Jama Masjid are the two most popular monuments of the area.
Old Delhi is more than an area, it is a phenomenon that slowly grows onto you. Although with emerging technology and time it has evolved quite a lot, but that rustic feeling is still kicking. Explore the hidden by lanes or the effervescent markets for some great treasures and greater memories.