(pics by Chhavi Sharma & Ridhima Bahl, a regular at our heritage walks)
Doing what we’re passionate about and love the most comes with ease! Shahjahanabad is love and Delhi Heritage Walks a passion. 🙂
A cloudy day with waves of chilly wind and 12 of us gathered to take a walk on the historic lane of Chandni Chowk. Chandni Chowk was built as a main commercial lane after the establishment of Shahjahanabad city which is also known now as the walled city or purani Dilli/old Delhi
This beautiful city and its surroundings were destroyed more than once: in 1739 when Nadir Shah came, in 1857-Indians rebelled against the then British rising in power. The city hence developed socio-economically depending on political powers so was development seen in architecture. The Digamber Jain Lal Mandir and Gauri Shankar temple both came up while the Mughals were at the Red Fort, but the elaborate structures we see today are relatively recent phenomenon. Through the main street, several buildings remain intact and speak out loud for themselves for being “Mughal” or “British”. The SBI building is a typical example of British architecture. This site was earlier estate of Begum Sumroo-a Kashmiri dancing girl who was famous for conducting lavish parties and as a a great friend of the Mugal ruler at that time. Her estate was partially taken up by Lala Bhagirath which still exists as Bhagirath Place- Asia’s largest electronic market. Just across the road runs Esplanade road- a wholesale bicycle and camera market.
Gurudwara Sisganj was built at the site of Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom. Within the gurudwara complex, there initially existed a Mughal kotwali. Next to it lies the Sunehri masjid, domes of which are gilded with copper! This is the place where the plunderer Nadir Shah stood whilst he felt content in the en-masse massacre that he ordered. Few steps ahead are sweet shops, from a century old Ghantewala Shahi Halwai (who claim to have served the Mughals) to a decade old Haldiram’s are close to each other. We walked through the typical lanes of Chandni Chowk, passing by the famous parathewali gali as well as the kinari bazaar & moti bazaar! The lanes which once had a dead end were cut at places for the easy mobility once the British had taken over the city!
The Town Hall and Old Delhi Railway Station also British made, sadly on the place where once Jahanara’s beautiful gardens and a serai lay. The life line of Chandni Chowk, a stream was flowed straight from Red Fort to Fatehpuri Mosque and an octagonal shaped pool was built at the site of Town Hall square, from which the street takes its name, ‘moonlight street’!
Moving few steps ahead we come across a massive haveli (mansion) with more than a 100 rooms built by Lala Chunnamal in 1858 and it is still inhabited by his descendants. The next stop was a Shivalaya (shiva temple) in the Katra Neel (commercial lane for Indigo workers). A little further is Fatehpuri Masjid built by one of the wives of Shah Jahan, Begum Fatehpuri. Passing through the spice market, khari baoli, we climbed to the rooftop of Gadodia market, which is warehouse for spices! It has a spectacular view of the old city: the minarets of Jama Masjid to the south and Kashmiri Gate metro station to north, clearly visible from here!
(posted by Chhavi Sharma, team member, Delhi Heritage Walks)