With well established trade, arts, culture and architecture during his reign, Shah Jahan could afford a new capital. The Old Delhi, built by Shah Jahan lies with peace on the banks of the river Yamuna. A neophyte traveller is sure to lose his way in the labyrinthine maze of doughty mansions, world class Mughal architecture and narrow boulevards, busy with the hustle and bustle of life.
Enter Delhi and you are sure to go in to a state of trance as the fragrance of the ‘pethas’ (a translucent soft candy from North India and Pakistan) charm you. A bite of it would give you a feeling like it is Christmas in your mouth. Visit the Chandni Chowk or the Moonlight Square and you will be fascinated by the glamour there. Chandni Chowk is filled with a pinch of life, with the rickshaws and the people walking on the same path, the traffic honking through its way, throughout the day; with a tinge of bicycle bells easily making their way out of the crowded street.
Trading their business on the pavements would be the bakers, bread makers, snake charmers etc.who would leave no space for the pedestrians to walk by. Another traffic jam would be caused by the cows, considered to be holy, and worshipped by the people, right on the middle of the road, with enough of dust and commotion. The shops are filled with a plethora of embroidered fabric, bangles, scarfs, shawls, antiques, books, CDs, DVDs, spices, herbal remedies etc. also an interesting sight on the streets will be a saadhu (a holy saint), ladded in a saffron gear who promises to reveal your future on the basis of the tarot card chosen by his parrot. Well, the parrots here have certainly found a way of living.
While on the other side, the air will be soaked with the deep-fried vadas, noodles and cheese balls, which you will find in every nook and corner of this city. People here are huge fans of these street foods. The women in bright coloured saris beat the heat sipping the soda, while the children are seen playing with their marbles.
On the other side of the alley are the craftsmen shaping their clay figures and pots, beating silver to give them a certain shape, weaving rugs which are in a great demand here, polishing shoes, fixing the tyre punctures caused due to the uneven roads and some giving final touches to the inlaid wood and marble. But, this is not all that Delhi is. Delhi is incomplete without its famous Jama Masjid, the India Gate and the Red Fort or the Lal Qila.
This piece framed an entire picture of Delhi in my mind. Even though rustic, old, chaotic, dusty the Old Delhi is, it still retains its magical spell, strong enough to charm the travellers. This unusual, vibrant and colourful town welcomes each and every traveller to the heart of India.
– Urvashi Shah
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