Delhi the symbol of old India is celebrating its economic rise with Gusto. Hub of the country this busy international metropolis draw people from everywhere across India and the world, but still, hidden in the Delhi modern suburbs, temple, ruins, museums and art treasures dating back centuries are there and you can hear stones whispering to your ears the reminiscence of the past. The result is a city full of captivating surprises that you could happily spend weeks or even months to explore. But let’s start with a weekend!
The little story behind the city
Delhi, the current capital of India, was the political and financial center, during the Mughal Empire from 1649 to 1857. On 12 December 1911, George V, then Emperor of India, along with Queen Mary, his Consort, decided that the capital of the Raj had to be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi, while laying the foundation stone for the Viceroy’s residence in the Coronation Park, Kingsway Camp on the 15th of December 1911.
Your weekend plan
The Red Fort
The Red Fort, recognize as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, was the emperors of the Mughal dynasty’s principal residence for almost 200 years, until 1857. The site was the ceremonial and the political center of the Mughal state and the setting for the critical events impacting the region. On 15 August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian national flag above the Gate part. The last Mughal emperor to occupy the fort, Bahadur Shah II, became a symbol of the 1857 rebellion with the residents of Shahjahanabad against the British. On 15 August 1947, after the Indian Independence, the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian national flag above the Lahore Gate. Every year on the Independence day of India (15 August), the Prime Minister hoists the Indian “tricolor flag” at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally-broadcast speech from its ramparts.
Tip: Once you your visit is over, do walk and get lost around the Chandni Chok Bazaar, and the spice market and climb up until you reach the rooftop for an amazing view of the Old Delhi.
The Red Fort
When: Opens at 9h30am (close at 4h30 pm) – closed on Mondays
Where: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi
Easy access by taxi or by Tube: Lal Quila Station (Violet line) or Chandni Chowk Station (Yellow line)
The Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib restaurant offers lunch every day, and you can eat as much as you like of the excellent veggie food. Do not forget to remove your shoes to get in and to finish your dish as it is a Sikh temple. This act is ment to push you to order only what you can eat and no more.
The Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib restaurant, Chandni Chowk Road, Near Red Fort, Old Delhi.
Paranthe Wali Gali: This little Parantha dhaba has been a culinary institution for the past decades. Niched in a small alley of Chandni Chowk this restaurant is a must try if you like spicy food!
Don’t miss a visit to Jama Masjid, the Great Mosque of Old Delhi and the largest in India, located in Netaji Subhash Marg, west of Red Fort. The construction started in 1644 and ended up being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The highly decorative mosque with a courtyard able to hold 25,000 devotees has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. Travellers can hire robes at the northern gate. This may be the only time you get to dress like a local without feeling like an outsider. So make the most of it!
When: Open every day for 7 am to noon, then 1.30pm to 6.30pm.
Note: Tourists are not allowed during prayer hours
No one can go to the Old Delhi without going to Karim’s, for a real and authentic Mughlai dinner. In town since1913, this restaurant is an institution and is the city’s most famous culinary destination. Don’t miss the Shahi Dastar Khwan, the Bharatia Pattal, Kebabs of course and for desert their fabulous Kheer Benazir.
Karim’s restaurant: A-22,Main Road, Green Park, New Delhi
The Chor Bazaar
For the early bird, the Sunday MUST GO when you are in the old Delhi is the Chor Bazaar (which means thieves’ market), to get the best deals in town. There, you’ll find absolutely everything. And everything in this market means everything. From food to Men’s shoes (one of the rare bazaars to sell men’s shoes), leather boots, tie-ups, Men’s shirts and kurtas, electronic material, household from bed sheets to curtains, etc. All are coming from second hand, copy or famous original brand stolen. Don’t forget to bargain, there is there a lot to buy at the lowest price in the most chaotic crowds!
The Chor Bazaar
When: Sunday morning
Where: 235, Meena Bazar, Jama Masjid, Old Delhi
Darya Gang Sunday Book Market
If your alarm clock didn’t go on (hey, it’s Sunday, we understand!), don’t miss the Darya Gang Sunday Book Market, without a doubt the book lover’s paradise. The market is just across the Delhi Gate built in 1638. New and old books are lined up on the pavements. Everything from the second-hand books, fashion magazines, to comics and vintage or Bollywood posters, is sold there at the best prices. The range of novels proposed is incredible from fiction to science, art and more. This market has something to offer to everyone! Bargain hard, check the missing pages, and you are good to go!
Tips: Along the pavement, you will also find much more than books. Old coins, stationery, trinkets…
Darya Gang Sunday Book Market
When: from 9/10am on Sunday to late evening
Where: Asaf Ali Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg, Darya Ganj (near Delhi Gate). Nearest Metro Station: New Delhi Railway Station
Once the shopping in Old Delhi is done, head south to Connaught place, and go to Wengers for some of the best cities’ Patties (stuffed salted pastries) and get one of the best Milk Shakes in Keventers.
Wengers: A-22, Radial Road Number 3, Block A, Connaught Place
Keventers: 4/90, Block P, Connaught Place.
Take a tour around Connaught place, then through Janpath and the Tibetan market, before heading to the Imperial Hotel for a well-deserved drink in their amazing garden.
If shopping isn’t for you, check what the Raahgiri days have planned out. The Raahgiri days is a great initiative launched by a group of Delhiites which helps people to meet on Sunday mornings, to enjoy roads with traffic-free, as the streets are specially blocked for few hours. There, people cycle, practice yoga, dance, jamming, etc. A fantastic opportunity to experience Delhi differently, and to meet locals while practicing fun activities!