Tag Archives: Saurabh Dhayani

Chandni Chowk

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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!!

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Ladakh Buddhist Monastery

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The Monk

Delhi as we all know is one place which represents entire India and not a specific region or religion and all of us contributes something to the uniqueness of our city.

Well today I went to explore a place which is known as second home of Tibetans/ Ladakhis in Delhi – The Monastery.

It would be an undeniable fact that everyone in Delhi would have heard about or visited Monastery market at some point of their college life. I remember this market to be a Shopping Destination for shoes and T-shirts.  It always made sure that my desire of trendy & stylish things does not go beyond my pocket money.

Well, Monastery truly reflects the uniqueness of Tibetan lifestyle and you will not be missing the ethnicity of the Tibetan/Ladakhi culture at every second step you will be taking here.

Situated just a stone throw’s away distance from I.S.B.T – Kashmiri Gate, this is a frequent visiting spot for College students for crowd seeking pocket friendly shopping. Deo’s, Watches, Shoes, Clothes, Statues, Raw food items, sunglasses.. name it and you can get it here. But today I will not be talking about the market!!.

I would be talking about the core of this place. This monastery came into existence in 1963 and was with intent to provide refuge to Ladakhi’s and Tibetans. The Monastery (Vihar) was inaugurated by late Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru on 24’th Feb 1963 and along with the Inauguration a Bodhi Tree was also planted by him on the same day. Monastery also has a guesthouse attached to it.

A walk though inside the monastery takes you around various pictures of Dalai Lama and various important characters to Tibetan people. The moment you step in you will be captivated by a huge statue of Buddha and various paintings depicting the transformation of Prince Siddhartha to selfless kindhearted Buddha. Well, as expected it turned out to be a very peaceful, soothing and calm place.

The Bodhi Tree is situated at the backyard of monastery which is facing Yamuna River. My heart constantly wished that Yamuna could be pollution free, something which would have made this Monastery an absolute doorway of heaven to seek peace and oneness with almighty.

A Word Of Caution: Please ensure that you are specific while referring to Ladakhis or Tibetans here as both have different settlements. I was tossed around quite a few times as I kept on using wrong reference at wrong place. Both Ladakhi’s and Tibetan’s have different pradhans (heads) so you better know as to which door you want to knock.

Check my Facebook page for more pictures of Monastry.  http://www.facebook.com/RomancingDelhi

Top 5 Romantic Spots In Delhi

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Hi Readers,

I woke up this morning with a view to die for, slightly clouded sky with cool breeze kissing on my forehead and green color of trees at their vibrant best. Somehow monsoon seems to bring so many emotions alive specially smoking hot romance. Growing up somehow makes us so bound & gagged in a daily struggle to keep up with a routine that we simply forget to appreciate these dramatic changes around us. But the first drops of rains always brings back the nostalgia of romance. Be it a walk while holding hands, or hiding under a tree snuggling in each other’s arms, or being in a heritage park like Lodi Garden taking refuge in one of the monuments cuddling and feeling warmth of her breath on my neck or simply driving around under the rain on a bike across the deserted roads, monsoon brings out so many sweet memories from my trunk of forgotten moments.

So here I am dedicating a post to romance in monsoon.

picture-romantic-couple-in-love copy

5 Places To Romance Under Clouded Sky


1. Lodi Gardens

I don’t know if it has something to do with my upbringing at Lodi Colony but I have special attachment to this place. Lush green gardens with a lake, small bridge & heritage monuments perfect landscape to paint a portrait with colors of romance. The tombs have large entrances & galleries to sit and enjoy a view of rain drops pouring down.

2. Garden Of 5 Senses

I feel that Garden Of 5 senses is one of the most under promoted destinations and maybe this is what is the secret to it’s beauty. Vast gardens with plenty of places to offer seclusion, it just comes alive under an overcast sky or when it starts to rain. Best places to be at when you can’t control those love hormones.

3. Agrasen Ki Baoli

Situated at a close vicinity to jantar-mantar and walking distance from barakhamba metro station, this could be counted as a secret garden for cupid’s play. The downside being sometimes it gets too crowded with couples and also it has a lot of residential settlements around it. Best for spending those calm moments of togetherness.

4. Delhi Haat

Just opposite to INA metro station this one is one of the most bubbling places so enjoy a cloudy afternoon. With cool breeze killing the summer effect, take your loved one to the lanes enriched with handicrafts item, get a tattoo made out of mehendi as a remembrance and follow it us with food from your favorite part of India. One of the most ideal dating points to spurge some cash & spend some quality handful of hours. An entry ticket ensures that the right kind of gentry surrounds you.

5. Chandni Chowk

I know this is stark but for someone like me to whom romance is more about togetherness and walks while holding hands, I would vote chandni chowk as the place to be at. Board a rickshaw and drive past the narrow lanes to discover paranthe wali gali, go for delicacies made of desi ghee in traditional way, have jalebies in hot milk/rabri/curd or feast on chat & golgappe. Well, as far as love is concerned, it knows another language which eyes speak, so try devoting some time knowing each other as well. The downside being no privacy.

Lodi Gardens

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Shish Gumbad (front) & Bada Gumbad Mosque

Shish Gumbad (front) & Bada Gumbad Mosque

Lodi Gardens are a majestic sets of tombs spread across over 90 acres at heart of the city. Estimated to be from 14’th – 15’th century, today this park is equally popular among health enthusiasts and love birds. The Gardens offer nice lush green cover and are home to nearly a dozen species of birds and half a dozen species of butterfly.

You can also explore 4 heritage tombs, all of which have been declared protected monuments of national importance :
1. Tomb Of Sikandar Lodhi
2. Bada Gumbad Mosque
3. Shish Gumbad
4. Mohammed Shah Sayyid’s Tomb

Apart from above monuments you can also visit a glass house, a small mosque and a turret. Lodi garden dawns a herbal garden, rose garden and botanical garden as well.

You also have a beautiful lake occupied by fish and geese. This gives visitor’s a perfect spot to relax and get away from harsh city life (yeah I know you are in heart of Delhi). However if you have kids with you then take extra precautions while around geese as sometimes they tend to attack kids. Further it has been reported that kids have consumed geese droppings on a few occasions as well (Geese droppings reportedly has dangerous e-coli virus).

During mornings and evenings the open spaces are occupied for meditation & exercises. The moment you set your foot inside the gardens you will be greeted by chirps of birds and soft croons of wind blowing through the bamboo trees. With each step you walk and get deeper inside the garden premises, you will realize that the farther you have drifted away from unsettling city. This my friend is a true paradise for nature lovers. Personally I find Lodi Gardens as a perfect family picnic spot as long as you do not wish to play HIDE & SEEK.

Except for the lake, I would say that these gardens are well maintained and are a real treat to rejuvenate your senses. So go, take off your shoes and take a stroll.

I sure hope that you make your escape to Lodi gardens this weekend (and hey PARKING IS FREE!)

Delhi Auto Tamasha

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Delhi_Auto

The Great Negotiation !!

I am someone who feels proud to say that I have been born and brought up in Delhi, and one of the primary reasons for this is the revolutionary change I have witnessed in my city. The chocked roads have been liberated by the flyovers, the pollution which nearly made my eyes burn has dropped considerably and I feel safe breathing fresh air, those rickety DTC & monstrous blue line busses no longer ply and we have today the lavish low floor busses running on our roads, the distances have shrunk today all thanks to metro.

One thing however, which remains unchanged even today, withstanding all positive changes is a question “Bhaiya Kitna Loge?” (How much will you charge?). The fleet of CNG autos which run on Delhi streets have been projected as one of the most economical & pocket friendly modes of transportation, ideal for city journey but it actually nothing more than a fleet of pick-pocket & thugs. Be it increased fares or temper proof meters or penalty there is nothing which deters them. THEY JUST WONT GO FAIR.

In fact there have been occasions when I have argued with them, waited for next auto to arrive hoping for him to use meter , abused them in frustration but nothing has worked. In the end you just end up waiting endlessly wasting your time-energy-effort and finally agreeing on a negotiated cost (which is always higher than meter cost).

And sometimes to add insult to injury, the moment you step in they will switch on their meters to make you see that you have paid a good 20-30 rupees over the cost.

Well perhaps I am being too harsh going by my experiences but as a relief Delhi do have prepaid auto booths where you pay as per meter fare and luggage cost. For the convenience of commuters all major bus terminals, railway stations have prepaid auto booths so anyone coming into Delhi need not worry about loosing their cool.

Also, with the rigorous awareness program being initiated by Delhi police to get things in order, I am extremely optimistic that very soon Delhi auto will be like Mumbai taxies. Stop the Auto, Hop In and let the fare meter do the taking & calculations.

But to pave way for this dramatic change we all will need to pitch in our effort and fearlessly report it to concerned authority. In case any of you face harassment from Auto drivers then please lodge a complaint with Delhi traffic police. A complaint can be lodged online at the following link :
http://www.delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/complaint-card.aspx

Or

Simply message below code to “56767”
REF : in case auto driver refuses to give services.
OVC : If you have been overcharged.
HAR : IN case auto drives harasses you.

Finally, if you have any suggestion as to how to contribute to changing this scenario or if you have a similar experience then you know that comment section is right below. Let’s share & grow!!

Daryaganj Book Market – Perfect kick for Sunday Mornings

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The Market

I am not sure how important it is to be a good reader in order to be a decent writer. Well at least this has never been applicable on me. Sometimes I wonder that reading will do wonders on my writing skills but I have been too lethargic to read and allow any writing style to reflect on mine (I know it sounds like a dumb guy boasting about originality in his writing style).

But today I will be taking about a place which has been in existence for around 40 years now and is a favorite Sunday hotspot for literature enthusiasts. Daryaganj is usually known for wholesale stationary market approachable by rickety rickshaws but on Sunday it is an all different avatar. For nearly four decades Dayraganj has hosted a feisty second hand book market which has successfully fed the literary hungry delhiwallas.

I first trip to this market was in early part of 2009 in search on Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead. A scout of 15 minutes, some hardcore bargain with a typical poker-face look and the book was with me for INR 125/-. This recollection entices a strange guilt as I never completed reading the book and It still lies comfortably in my book-shelve.

Well now that I am writing my blog I just couldn’t miss visiting it again today. So I was all dressed up and planned to dodge my parents questions for missing Sunday’s breakfast which we all have together. I reached the market at 9:30 AM and I could see most of the shopkeepers unpacking the books and unbundling their racks. So I decided to casually stroll through the market till I see the typical rush set in.

I was surprised on how quickly things were moving and how fast people started crowding in. I casually turned back and was left with jaws dropped to the floor as all stalls I had passed were all set up & ready for business. Hey guys please don’t misunderstand my earlier writing that this spot if for literature hunters but trust me the book market offers something for everyone – toddlers, kids, school-kids, college crowd, corporate guys, magazines for homemakers and tricks on nearly every trade I could have thought about. There is hardly any reason you give it a miss.

Soon I reached a stall with all books for programming languages and technologies were bundled on top of each other forming about 6 feet high wall. I could only identify a handful of titles which were repeating on that wall formation. I pulled up a folded paper from my pocket with a list of books I had prepared on Saturday night with help from Mr. Google (yeah.. I suck in term of knowledge on books). A book on Cloud Computing by P McFedries and another on PHP frameworks by Kevin M, and surprisingly guy had info on both of them. He smiled and advised that I really missed a great deal as he had sold P McFedries’s by a week but assured that he can arrange another copy of the book if I could wait for one more week while he can provide me with the book on framework in half an hour. I felt glad as it saved me with embarrassment on not purchasing in case he had the copies then & there. A few shops ahead was a bloke dressed with colorful T shirt & shorts, resting on a bundle of books arranged to be his chair he sat with stretched out legs and hands above his head as if least interested in selling anything. I casually asked him about bible on Photoshop (thinking he mustn’t be aware about what it would be) and he casually he turned his head at me and asked “for which version?”. Well I must say that I was once again held back a little and I gather courage to ask him about his age. He was class 11 Student who helped his father on Sundays as his father sits on another stall. Well that was enough for me to test if this market can offer what it boasts and I mush share that all my doubts were wiped crystal clear.

Rest of my walk remained limited to scrolling through stalls with magazines and romantic novels. While I walked through the stall there were loads of interesting conversations to grab. Someone crooning a nice rhyme inviting people to purchase Rs. 20 novels from his stall, someone negotiating sale for half a dozen of National Geographic magazines for further discount, some students searching for a college project, an architect asking for a design book, there was plenty to soak around.
However I must say that everything was not so rosy and as sun was busy changing his altitude I realized how badly I was missing a hat or an umbrella. I suggest that you do carry these along with a water bottle even through you will come across some nice options to quench your thirst. You can try knocking a few juice shops or cold drinks or a thick creamy lassi. This place will give you very little to complain about in terms of options.

You also have ATM’s available around even though for a few I came to know were not dispensing cash.

It was not just books and magazines, there were diaries, notepads, stationary, filers, bags & much more at throwaway prices. Well I was glad that I visited but for you please ensure that you do carry a bag to keep the books (shopkeepers seldom offer bags), umbrella or at least a cap and a bottle with water cause trust me you will not have enough of this book market till you are drained.

So in case you have visited or will be visiting Daryaganj’s awesome Sunday book market then comment to share your experience.!! Happy Sundays.