Bordello to Brothel - Tawaifs of Chawri Bazar
Bordello to Brothel - Tawaifs of Chawri Bazar
with Gaurav Sharma


This walk is an effort to correct widespread misunderstandings about the Tawaif (highly civilized courtesan) culture. Due to the sensitive topic of this walk, you are advised to use exercise discretion when bringing children under the age of 18.

It is important to recognize that the last 5000 years which spanned the Harappan age, the Vedic era, the Mahajanpadas, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal and the early British era, each had its public women who were the repository of dance and music while working in the capacity of professional entertainers.

Chawri Bazar remained a promenade street of old Delhi which housed sprawling mansions of Tawaifs. The charm of these Tawaifs brought kings, nawabs, poets and sahibs to their doorsteps. In this walk, we will try to identify the last remaining symbols of “Kothas” (Bordellos) in the street of Chawri Bazar and will unravel the phenomenal stories of celebrated Tawaifs such as Rupmati, Anarkali, Rana Dil, Lal Kunwar Nur Bai, Chamani Ram Jani, Uttam Bai, Firdaus Jan, Ad Begum, Alfina and Punna Bai. We will trace the downfall of this institution which was a result of the moral censorship on part of Christian missionaries, the misconstrued notion of civilizational inferiority on part of western educated Indians, and the greed to acquire the prized properties of the Tawaifs which ultimately forced them out of city limits to Brothels or “Red light” areas.

Target Audience History, Culture and Story enthusiasts
Meeting/Start Point Chawri Bazar Metro Station, Gate No. 3

  • Please contact us on the indicated numbers for any information or assistance
  • Students (Graduate and above) can attend this walk for a discounted fee. A valid institution ID card will need to be presented to avail the student discount
  • Parental guidance is advised if you plan to bring children

Gaurav Sharma's Profile
Gaurav was born in 1987 and has been a lifelong Dilliwala. He grew up amidst the multilayered culture of Delhi. He has a degree in History (honours) from Dayal Singh College, University of Delhi and subsequently he enhanced his passion for history by completing the 'INDIA: ART & CULTURE' certificate from the National Museum Institute. His experience of working in art galleries gave him a fair idea of what art connoisseurs look for. He was a history consultant with the TIMES Newspaper in Education and had a short stint at Khalsa college, St. Stephens Colleges and the Department of History at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Delhi. His long experience of researching on historical personalities has lent him enough credentials to narrate historical events in a well researched/factual and storytelling manner.

2 Hours

Contact to Book

+91 95828 91707
+91 98186 88010

Reviews (9)

A nice walk, could have been a bit shorter though! Brilliant details shared about the courtesans. Would love to go inside one of those buildings sometime.
- Radhika
Excellent, and enlightening! Great way to discover the city. Lovely walk, more of a storytelling session. Nicely conducted, and good coordination with the logistics.
- Urvashi Jain
Excellent tour. Unusual topic. Gaurav was very well informed and spoke at the perfect pace. He gave us complete background. My 18 year old daughter was with me and he managed to deal well with her. Then he took us on a food tour. Great way to spend a morning
- Akrita
Did a truly educative walk earlier this month. Touching upon a rather uneasy subject of Tawaifs of Delhi, the historian Gaurav wove a rather interesting narrative about the tradition of women entertainers by picking up bits from diverse sources across ages. Thus converting what could have been a rather linear experience into a real rich one. It was a treat dealing with Aditi and the gointhecity team. Would readily recommend the walk to others as a great way to learn about Delhi.
- Nirmal
Tawaifs of Old Delhi, a concept that raises a lot of eyebrows, am glad GointheCity is talking about such issues, and doing away with the misconceptions and myths in the Indian minds.
- Priyakshi
A great walking tour experience. Nice way to spend my saturday on a winter morning. Stories about the origin of the tawaif culture in India, their ways of life and their decline, well explained, and curated.
- Ritwik
A Heritage and culture fusion walk. Great concept, and we were well told about the fact that there wont be actual kothas or tawaifs. Were really surprised, at the transformation that has taken place in the Chawri bazaar, from then to now
- Monika
Nice concept, Experiential in the true sense. Downtrodden women, and the issues associated with them, are all discussed at length.
- Richa Kohli
Brilliant storytelling! Gaurav has researched a lot on the subject, and he has an excellent command over the subject. Tawaifs of Old Delhi, is a great walk.
- Ananya

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