How to see Old Delhi
Here's how to see Old DelhiBuilt in the 1700s by Shahjahan, the king who made the Taj Mahal, Chandni Chowk or Shahjahanabad is fascinating and chaotic, its colorful and crowded, its got bargains and rip-offs. Here is a walking map of Chandni Chowk. This is a long walk. It is 5.6Kms or 3.5 miles long. It is going to be a slow walk through a really crowded part of town. Take your time wandering through it. Plan for at least 4-5 hours to do this.
National Geographic calls Chandni Chowk, "The city’s most crowded, chaotic. and captivating areas, with a bamboozling orchestra of sights, smells, and sounds."
This walk helps you see old city of Shahjahanabad on your own.
Shahjahan wanted to build a new city in Delhi in the 17th century. The Mughal empire was huge by this time and supposedly the richest in the world. Shahjahan was very fond of architecture. Taj mahal in Agra was also built by Shahjahan. He wanted to project an image of pomp and splendour and Agra was cramped and crowded for imperial parades.
He wanted a show. The Chandni Chowk is meant to be this thorough fare to walk through. Slowly Shahjahanabad grew organically.
Key sights in this Old Delhi Walk
Kucha Pati Ram
Kucha is a plane. Narrow streets keep Chandni Chowk cooler. A lot of this area is owned by business people. Business owners also live in this area. First of all you will see old havelis (mansions), interesting doors and architecture from the mughal period with modern influences in Kucha Pati Ram. Sandstone carved doorways are a characteristic of this area.
Different kind of borders mean different thing.
Then you will start walking towards Jama Masjid the largest mosque in India. You will probably be tempted to eat at Karim’s nearby. Don't forget to climb the tower if you have the stamina to climb over 300 steps. Great photo op up top.
You will then then walk to the entrance of the Red fort. Getting so close to it will give you a sense of scale of this place.
There are plenty of great places to eat all throughout your walk. They have been marked on the map. Feel free to deviate from the path to get to these places.
After the Red fort, you will walk down Chandni Chowk’s main thoroughfare. Emperor Shahjahan build this road for his processions to show off to the general public. You will then take a left to go into Dariba, the jewelry market in Chandni Chowk. Follow the path all the way to Fatehpuri and to the Khari Baoli spice market. Be sure to go in and smell the spices.
There are lots of great places to eat on the approach road to the spice market. Eat Pooris at China Ram, Kulfi or Chhole Bhature at Giani di Hatti. Shiv Misthan Bhandar are also great.
Some of these places may seem intimidating. We've eaten at these places many times but if you want to be absolutely safe eat at the nearby Haldiram. They have good food too.
This is a long walk and you will feel a bit out of your element here but keep going. Don't be shy to ask for help if you get lost inspite of the map.
After you are done, trace your steps back to the Chandni Chowk metro station and get back to your hotel or onto the next destination.