Visiting old Delhi is like a twisted delight which constantly knocks certain serious questions on one’s mind. The moment I stepped in I could see glimpse of some old structural designs showing how magnificent this settlement would have been in its glory days and yet how badly we managed it.
Today I took a journey to Chawri Bazar and Chandni Chowk, the places which are talked like jewels in Delhi’s history. Well to be honest what they are today just bewilders me. What I saw was and old man trying hard to keep up with todays’ youth. What we forget is that some flavors are best when preserved in their original taste. Wherein on one hand I was mystified thinking how charming and absorbing the lanes would have been some-day I was also highly disturbed to see how cruel development has been on it.
The walls still carry the architectural grandeur of old times but were all entwined with the electrical cables running across them. The lanes were to narrow and probably too crowded by autos, rickshaws & hand-pulled rickshaws while the crowd made it nearly impossible to walk on a relaxed- lethargic pace. It seemed there were just a handful of people like me and rest were all in hurry as if driven by some purpose.
Well before I move on let me tell you some bits about their history. Chandni Chowk (which if you translate in English comes to be Moonlight Square) was built somewhere in 17’th century during reigns of Mughal Empror – Shahjahan, by his daughter Jahanara Begum. Chandni Chowk had a pond and gardens all of them were lit up at night when moonlight descended. Just the mere thought of a royal pond surrounded by exquisite gardens glittering under moonlight fills up my heart with romance.
Chandni Chowk in it’s initial days extended from Red Fort to Fatehpuri Mosque and was bifurcated into 4 sections :
1. Urdu Bazaar
2. Phool Mandi (Flower Market)
3. Jouhari Bazaar (Jeweller’s Market)
4. Chandni Chowk (yes Chandni Chowk itself!!)
Well moving on from it’s history, today Chandni Chowk is known as one of the biggest wholesale market in North India. At my home name of Chandni Chowk usually crops up whenever a bunch of ladies are talking about going shopping for someone’s wedding to I had this predefined picture of this market being about fancy traditional attires but I was for a surprise today.
While walking through the main street across Chandni Chowk you can distinctly hear salesmen from various showrooms pitching in the specialties they have on offer. It is kinda hard not to notice that all major Saree Brands have their showrooms build so I thanked god that neither my mom nor my wife accompanied me. But big brands apart, charm of shopping in Chandni Chowk lies not in the showrooms but through the narrow lanes driving into it’s interior. There are so many shops each offering something different so you can understand what a verity you are in for.
Caution : Husbands/ Boyfriends beware “Do Not Accopmny Your Partner If They Insist You to Go To Chandni Chowk” I repeat “DO NOT ACCOMPNY THEM!!!!”
But soon I discovered that Chandni Chowk still is divided into specialties. As I moved on I suddenly ventured into a section full of shops dealing with electrical items and in no time I was on doorstep to Masjid (Mosque) Fatehpuri beyond which was a world for traders of spices and dry fruits.
Chandni Chowk is an absolute foodie’s delight!. You will walk across those famous rabri-faaluda, rabri-jalebi, golgappe, dahi-bhalle at regular intervals so Take Them On! .But I also gave a miss to the famous Paranthe-Wali Gali cause there is no better way to discover the mouth watering food than in company of friends. So I know I will be knocking it’s door soon with a growling stomach !!.
Even though today I nearly spent 5 hours exploring through Chawri Baazar & Chandni Chowk I know it in my heart that I will have to come back again. And this to me just summarizes how visually fulfilling this place is – you just can’t have enough.
Meanwhile, please feel free to share your experiences and views to add strength to this blog about Delhi!!