The roots of Old Delhi

There are two kinds of people in Delhi – those who know it and those who don’t. If you are one of the latter, then it’s never too late to begin!

In any discussion on the history of Delhi, one of the key things to know is that although Delhi had been a thriving city for centuries, as per recorded history, it is the City of seven Cities. New Delhi is the eighth city of Delhi. Six of these seven cities were established by a Mughal emperor with the first being established by the Tomar Rajputs and subsequently the Chauhan’s of Prithviraj Chauhan fame.

These seven cities are

  • Lal Kot or Qila Rai Pithora – famous in the current generation for, well, pretty much nothing! This is the area around the Saket, Vasant Kunj & Mehrauli & the Qutab Complex
  • Mehrauli – popularly the area around the Qutab Minar, Mehrauli Archaelogical Complex and the Mehrauli village
  • Siri – You of course know about Siri Fort!
  • Tughlakabad – that far off area in Delhi known for its industry
  • Firozabad or Feroze Shah Kotla – popular for the only cricket stadium that Delhi houses
  • Shergarh – Purana Qila area, and
  • Shahjahanabad – Old Delhi popular for Karim’s, Jama Masjid and much more

Each of these seven cities was built around a fort.

Shahjanabad, the 7th city, was built by Shah Jahan and is today known as Old Delhi. Prior to the construction of New Delhi, Mehrauli was often referred to as Old Delhi, after which Shahjahanabad was termed as Old Delhi. Most of it is still confined within the walls built by Shah Jahan and its gates some of which still stand today, namely, the Kashmere Gate, the Delhi Gate, the Turkman Gate and the Ajmeri Gate.

GointheCity organizes a history and food walk in Old Delhi which unlike run of the mill tours, covers some hidden gems of the area in addition to the popular sights.

Ghalib ki Haveli (Ghalib’s Mansion) is one such gem located in Old Delhi and is declared as a heritage site by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). It is located in Gali Qasim Jan, Ballimaran and was the residence of the legendary poet of the waning period of the Mughal era, Mirza Ghalib. Ghalib lived at this Haveli for a long period of his life after he came to Delhi from Agra and wrote many of his poetic compositions here. The Delhi government acquired a portion of the Haveli in 1999 and has been restored significantly giving a glimpse into the Mughal life during its heydays. It is presently a memorial museum housing many objects related to Ghalib and the era.

To be continued…

Visit www.gointhecity.com for details of the indicated walk

Unraveling Mughal History at the Red Fort

View from the Entrance

Original Post

The history of the city of Delhi is more than 3,000 years old. It is a city of 7 cities. But this tour is about the 8th city, or as Shahjahan himself used to call it – the city within a city – the Red Fort. This heritage walk will take you to the most majestic monument of Delhi and we will try to unravel the unknown historical stories behind the beauty that is the Red Fort.

This fort has seen the Mughal dynasty rise to power and burn down to ashes. It is a grand complex of numerous buildings and each of them has a story to tell.

We gather at the main entrance of the fort at 9 am. The walk begins from the Lahori Gate. The first view after entrance is the little royal bazaar called Chhatta Chowk. It has around 15-20 little shops selling souvenirs, toys, bags, jewellery etc.

Lahori Gate
The Lahori Gate

After passing through the bazaar, we will walk to Naubat Khana (‘Drum-house’) and the Indian War Memorial Museum located on its first floor. We will further walk to the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) and Diwan-i-Khaas. Going ahead we will find Rang-Mahal, Nahr-i-Bihisht (‘Stream of Paradise’) and Mumtaz-Mahal, which now houses the Delhi Fort Museum.

Naubat Khana
Naubat Khana
Diwan-i-khas
Diwan-i-khas
Mumtaz Mahal
Mumtaz Mahal

Beyond Diwan-i-Khaas we will explore the area which used to be the royal residential complex consisting of Tasbih-Khana (‘chamber for counting beads for private prayers’), the Khwabgah (‘sleeping-chamber’), Hammam (‘Bath’) and Hayat-Bakhsh-Bagh (‘Life-giving garden’), Shahi Burj (emperor’s study area), Saawan and Bhadon pavilions Zafar Mahal and Moti Masjid which was constructed on the orders of Aurangzeb as his private mosque in 1659.

Lattice Works
Peeking through the Marble Lattice Works

 

Moti Masjid
Moti Masjid
Hammam
Hammam

At the north of Hayat-Bakhsh-Bagh and Shahi Burj, we take a look at the Princes’ quarter which was destroyed by the Britishers and a part of it was converted into tea house for the British soldiers.

We will also talk about the British barracks that can be spotted throughout the walk in the complex and why their Victorian architecture is in sharp contrast to the Indo-Mughal architecture of the original red fort complex.

The walk ends at the main exit of the fort.

Zafar Mahal and British Barracks
Zafar Mahal with British Barracks in the Background

Join us in our upcoming heritage walk to the Red Fort to walk back in time. For more information about the schedule and bookings, click here.

Know more about the Red Fort here.