The chaotic lanes of Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk have fascinated me forever. It makes even Mumbai appear slower and fairly easy to navigate through!
Whenever I’m in Delhi (for more than a day), I always spend a few hours in this part of the old city. It has charisma, the power to make me feel like a speck on the surface of the earth and homes a million stories. From the entangled wires to the tattered structures to the generations of traders, every stone here narrates its history.
I’ve lived in Delhi for half a decade and in all my explorations, Purani Dilli has always broken my heart. I still remember the first time I went to Mirza Ghalib’s house with a friend. We lost our way for hours through the cryptic lanes, on a hot afternoon. And finally, when we stood in front of the neglected arch of his home, it felt like a sanctum.
I remember the first time I entered Jama Masjid, as a student of photography. Through Gate #1, I cautiously climbed the stairs, not hoping to offend anyone or any religious sentiments. And when I saw the dome of this historic masjid in close proximity, I lost all sense of time and space. Such earnest hopes and wishes this space shelters, no camera can capture.
I remember the first time I walked hand-in-hand with a friend, clutching our bags to our bodies, to safely reach the designated address. It was the shop where she would choose her bridal trousseau and adornments, marking a new phase of her life. We spent hours here. The place where I learnt that the area of a shop doesn’t depict its customer service.
I’ve gone back to Chandni Chowk with strangers, friends, allies and soulmates. And always returned feeling fulfilled and meaningful. You know, when you show Dilli a bit of you, it allows you to touch its heart?
And so this time I went back with Gaurav to introduce him to the best phirni (rice pudding) in this world (I’m open to arguments!) and to the world of Karim’s. For all those who have been here, are familiar with the culinary excellence of this restaurant. For all those who haven’t, don’t miss it in your next visit to Delhi or allow Gaurav to convince you, by leaving a comment below.
What are your favourite experiences of Chandni Chowk?