Ultimate Old Delhi Walk

Scalloped arched door

The Ultimate Old Delhi Walk

Long
6 Kms/ 3.5 Miles 5 Hours Chawri Bazaar

Orientation

You can’t come to Delhi as a tourist and miss Chandni chowk.

Here’s how to see Old Delhi

Built 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 and be patient.

Tip: Take a rickshaw to double the fun and reduce the walking

 

Walking Map of Old Delhi

National Geographic calls Chandni Chowk, “The city’s most crowded, chaotic. and captivating areas, with a bamboozling orchestra of sights, smells, and sounds.” Chandni Chowk is one of my favourite places in Delhi. There is really nothing like it anywhere is the world. It’s not for everyone and it takes some getting used to. Be patient and it will grow on you. 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 thoroughfare to walk through. Slowly Shahjahanabad grew organically. Today it comprises of various Galis, Kuchas, Katras and Mohallas. Narrow lanes and dead-end lanes within residential blocks are called kuchas, galis or katras. Each kucha, gali or katra has its own name and forms a neighbourhood block. In some places a larger neighbourhood quarter called a mohalla is formed by neighbouring kuchas, galis and katras. If you really enjoy such information read the entire treatise on the urbanization of Old Delhi here: (PDF) Space Formation and Transformation of the Urban Tissue of Old Delhi, India.

Key sights in this Old Delhi Walk

Exit the Chawri’s bazaar metro station and follow directions to Kucha Pati Ram. There you will find some preserved havelis or old mansions from the 1700s. While a lot of buildings have been modernised you will still find beautiful doorways In the alleys in this part of Chandni Chowk. You can skip B,C,D and E on the map if you are not that interested in architecture.
A Hunting scene carved on the door
A Hunting scene carved on the door

Kucha Pati Ram (B,C, D & E on the map)

Most Delhi-ites do not know that this neighborhood houses some of the most beautiful doors in Chandni Chowk (old Delhi). The narrow streets of this area keep Kucha Pati Ram cooler than the main thoroughfares. Even though this area looks commercial, many 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. The doors are beautiful and of various kinds. Many are hand carved and many are being torn down to make way for modern structures of glass and concrete.
Wrought Iron work on balcony
Wrought Iron work on balcony
Where the house meets the road
Where the house meets the road
Weathered door
Weathered door
Watching the world go by
Watching the world go by
Temple entrance
Temple entrance
Scalloped arch
Scalloped arch
Red door
Red door
Old doors with Electrical cables
Old doors with Electrical cables
Home meets world
Home meets world
Hand carved door
Hand carved door
Hand carved capital for a pillar
Hand carved capital for a pillar
Domes and Balcony
Domes and Balcony
Beautifully painted door
Beautifully painted door

Jama Masjid (E on the map)

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.  

Red Fort (G on the map)

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.

Chandni Chowk (H)

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 (Walk from H to I), the jewelry market in Chandni Chowk. Follow the path all the way to Fatehpuri mosque (A on the map close to J)and to the Khari Baoli spice market (J on the map) 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.
Chhole bature shiv mishthan bhandar
Chhole bature shiv mishthan bhandar
Nagori aloo shiv misthan bhandar
Nagori aloo shiv misthan bhandar
Some of these restaurants may seem intimidating. I’ve eaten at these places and so have my guests 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, head to the Chandni Chowk metro station and get back to your hotel or onto the next destination.
Here are more pictures of the sights
Jama Masjid

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Ultimate Old Fort Walk in Delhi

The Ultimate Old Fort Delhi Walk

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Orientation

This 1.5 Kms walk is best done in the morning when the weather is cool. The walk takes you through the Old Fort or Purana Quila area of Delhi. We will cover sights from the 1500s and sample the best biryani in Delhi too.

The Old Fort of Delhi

Purana Quila or the old fort is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. Humayun a famous mughal king of Delhi and Afghan Sher Shah Suri built monuments in this area in the 1500s. The archeological survey of India (ASI) has uncovered artefacts from 2500 years ago in this area making this the oldest inhabited place in the Delhi region.

This fort was constructed by Humayun’s for his city of Dinpanah in the 1500s. It is a big fort with a 2km perimeter. Humayun was defeated by Sher Shah Suri but Suri carried on building the fort. He also renamed Dinpanah to Shergarh based on his name. He only ruled for 7 years but laid the foundations of Akbar, the next king.

Walking Map of Old Fort Area Delhi

Follow the map and start at the point A – Old Fort. Head next to the mosque on the other side of the road

Khair-ul-manazil Mosque

This 1561 structure is a working mosque but not popular. It was build by Akbar’s wet nurse. She was a strong woman in the time of men and held a lot of influence. It is said that there was an assassination attempt at Akbar in this area.

The mosque is really quiet to visit and seems like a peaceful oasis in this busy city. The entrance to the mosque is designed so that you have to bow down to enter it. Wear appropriate clothing if you visit the mosque. Move ahead to the Sher Shah Suri gate which is adjacent to the mosque.

Sher Shah Suri Gate

This decorative gate was meant to be the entrance to Shergarh, Sher Shah Suri’s capital in Delhi. The gate is being restored to its former glory and will take years before its ready. You can only look at it from the outside.

1540-45 saw a lot of construction during his rule. This includes the GT karnal road and highways from Bangladesh to Kabul with many sarai(hotels). Some say Sher Shah Suri also introduced the ruppiah. He extended his capital to Feroze shah Kotla and renamed it Shergarh or the home of the lion.

The Shrine of Abdul Qadir Bedil

Next we take the long walk to Bagh-e-Bedil. The shrine of Mirza Abdul qadir bedil dehlavi. He came to Delhi to learn Sabak-e-Hindi, Hindi writing of Persian. He used to write elegant Persian poetry.

Aurangzeb had ordered people to grow their beards as a proof of loyalty. Bedil said then that the age of goats has arrived. This poet is not very famous in India but his poems are used in day today conversations in Tajikistan! This is why the tomb has been restored and has a plaque in Tazak but some say it’s actually more Russian than Tazak. The prime minister of Tajikistan made a special visit here when came to Delhi.

People say that this tomb might actually not be his. Some say his house was outside Delhi gate in Shahjahanabad and that his might be a grave of an unknown person. In 1930, Khwaja Hasan from the nizamuddin family identified this as his tomb. People also consider him to be a Sufi poet.

Ghalib said that to write like him is “qayamat” or out of this world. And Ghalib was very arrogant and very good.

Sheikh nooruddin Malik yaar para is also buried here. He came in the 13th century in the reign of iltutmish. He fought with another Sufi Abu Bakr tusi. He told Abu Bakr that he has a letter from his Peer (Guru) to stay here. When asked for proof, he vanished and appeared back with it astonishing Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr tusi’s shrine or Matka pir (earthen pot shrine)

Spot E on the map is the Shrine of Matka Pir.

Abu Bakr tusi’s was supposed to have magical healing powers. People still come here today to pay homage to him and make wishes. In fact, the first female ruler to Delhi, Razia Sultan also came here to pay respects in the early 14th century.

People offer earthen pots to the shrine and you see plenty of them everywhere. Today this place claims to sell the best biryani in Delhi by the kilo. We’ve never tried it.

Khairul Manazil
Khairul Manazil entrance
Khairul Manazil structure
Khairul Manazil Pillar
Sher shah suri gate
Shrine of Bedil
Matka pir

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The Ultimate Mutiny of 1857 Walk

Long
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Orientation

This 5 Kms walk is best done in the morning when the weather is cool. The walk takes you through the northern Ridge in Delhi. Moneyed residents of the Civil Lines area in Delhi consider themselves true Delhi-ites and go to the ridge for their morning walks. 

I used to walk here every morning during my childhood completely oblivious to the historical sights in this area or the part this area played in India’s long struggle for Independence. 

The Mutiny of 1857 in Delhi

The mutiny of 1857 was the closest India came to defeating the East India company. The revolt started in May 1857 and ended 13 months later in June 1858. A lot of the important sights from this time period and even earlier are at the Northern Ridge area in Delhi. The revolt was largely in northern India. Southern India was peaceful during this time.

The victory of the company led to the end of Company rule of India. The rule was transferred to the British crown. The victory also led to the end of the Mughal and Maratha rule in India.

The revolt started in Meerut. About 60kms from Delhi as a sepoy mutiny. The residents of shahjahanabad or present day Chandni Chowk and the Civil Lines area massacred Christians, British and European residents in that area and drove them out of Delhi.

The British were slow to react since they were engaged in the Crimean war with Russia and were also sending troops to China. These troops were later re routed to help crush the rebellion in India.

Walking Map of the mutiny of 1857

:

Follow the associated map and take the road into the ridge from the Vidhan Sabha Metro station on the yellow line. Beware of the many monkeys in this area. They are used to human presence.

It’s hard to imagine today that the British took refuge in this area. Women and children camped at the flag staff for many months waiting for John Nicholson’s army. This army was largely comprised of Sikh and Pashtun soldiers

Delhi locals out for morning walk at the Ridge

The Flagstaff Tower where British took refuge

Women and children waited for reinforcements to arrive in this tower.

Flagstaff tower Delhi
Flagstaff tower

The Guard house

The guard house: The arms and ammunition storage building for the army.

Guard house
Guard house

Firoze shah Tughlaq used to visit the ridge for hunting 500 years before the rebellion took place. There are hunting lodges and towers build during the 1300s. He also rebuilt the Hauz Khas covered in the Hauz Khas walk. Old mosque were used to station guns to quell the rebellion

Chauburja Mosque

Chauburji Masjid
Chauburji Masjid

Pir gayab

Pir Gayab
Pir Gayab

Another Tughlaq era building with tapered minarets. This was a hunting lodge for the king but again used by the British to break the siege of Delhi. People say a Sufi saint (Pir) used to live here and just vanished one day (gayab)

This old step well next to the Hindu Rao hospital now lies in shambles and completely surprises you as you walk towards the hospital. There are lots of myths associated with this baoli including tales of a tunnel that goes from here to Agra, which is 100s of miles away.

Hindu Rao hospital and the role of William Frazer

HIndu Rao was the brother in law of Daulat Rao Scindia. Daulat Rao’s son asked his uncle to leave Gwalior in the 1830s. He bought William Frazer’s house in Delhi. William was a Scotsman who lived in Delhi. He was killed in 1836. One successful attempt of many. Nawab sham sud din khan allegedly hired someone to kill him. The Nawab was hanged for this crime. This led to an outcry and William’s grave is in St. James’ church was destroyed.

Hindu Rao house
Hindu Rao house
Step well Hindu rao
Step well Hindu rao
Dean's office
Dean’s office

Momin khan Momin in his letters after frazer’s death said that Fraser took so much land away from people. I hope he does not live peacefully in his afterlife. The destruction of his grave supposedly robbed him of peace in his afterlife. William dalrymple, the writer has a very romantic view of William Fraser. Fraser had married an Indian and dressed in Indian clothes.

Fraser built this mansion where the hospital is today. This became an important landmark in 1857 and it became the headquarters of the revolt and is the Hindu Rao house.

Ashoka’s pillar

The Ashoka pillar from 3BC just opposite the Hindu Rao hospital is the most surprising and the oldest artefact you’ll see on this walk

Ashoka Pillar Delhi
Ashoka Pillar

Ashoka put up his edicts called Dhamma, everywhere in his empire. Ashoka was one of the most high profile, early Buddhist follower in India. They were inscribed on rocks or pillars. This pillar was moved by Firoze shah Tughlaq to Delhi. The movement of this pillar from Meerut, which is 60kms away is described in Futu Ha e Firozeshahi. It was bundled up in semal and put on rollers and dragged. They loaded on a boat to complete its journey. Froze shah Tughlaq put it close to his hunting lodge that we’ve covered in this walk.

An explosion broke in into pieces. Now the inscribed rock is in a Calcutta museum. The pillar is here.

Jeetgarh or mutiny memorial

The gothic structure built with red sandstone was built by the British once the revolt was quelled. When India became independent, this symbol, on the 25th anniversary of Indian independence was reclaimed as a monument for those who died fighting for India instead of for those who quelled the rebellion.

Victory memorial Delhi
Victory memorial
Soldier listings 2
Soldier listings 2
Soldier listing
Soldier listing

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Scalloped arched door

Ultimate Old Delhi Walk

 

The Ultimate Old Delhi Walk

Long
6 Kms/ 3.5 Miles
5 Hours
Chawri Bazaar

Orientation

You can’t come to Delhi as a tourist and miss Chandni chowk.

Here’s how to see Old Delhi

Built 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 and be patient.

Tip: Take a rickshaw to double the fun and reduce the walking

Walking Map of Old Delhi


National Geographic calls Chandni Chowk, “The city’s most crowded, chaotic. and captivating areas, with a bamboozling orchestra of sights, smells, and sounds.” Chandni Chowk is one of my favourite places in Delhi. There is really nothing like it anywhere is the world. It’s not for everyone and it takes some getting used to. Be patient and it will grow on you.
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 thoroughfare to walk through. Slowly Shahjahanabad grew organically. Today it comprises of various Galis, Kuchas, Katras and Mohallas.
Narrow lanes and dead-end lanes within residential blocks are called kuchas, galis or katras. Each kucha, gali or katra has its own name and forms a neighbourhood block. In some places a larger neighbourhood quarter called a mohalla is formed by neighbouring kuchas, galis and katras. If you really enjoy such information read the entire treatise on the urbanization of Old Delhi here:
(PDF) Space Formation and Transformation of the Urban Tissue of Old Delhi, India.

Key sights in this Old Delhi Walk

Exit the Chawri’s bazaar metro station and follow directions to Kucha Pati Ram. There you will find some preserved havelis or old mansions from the 1700s. While a lot of buildings have been modernised you will still find beautiful doorways In the alleys in this part of Chandni Chowk. You can skip B,C,D and E on the map if you are not that interested in architecture.

A Hunting scene carved on the door
A Hunting scene carved on the door

Kucha Pati Ram (B,C, D & E on the map)

Most Delhi-ites do not know that this neighborhood houses some of the most beautiful doors in Chandni Chowk (old Delhi). The narrow streets of this area keep Kucha Pati Ram cooler than the main thoroughfares. Even though this area looks commercial, many 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.
The doors are beautiful and of various kinds. Many are hand carved and many are being torn down to make way for modern structures of glass and concrete.

Wrought Iron work on balcony
Wrought Iron work on balcony
Where the house meets the road
Where the house meets the road
Weathered door
Weathered door
Watching the world go by
Watching the world go by
Temple entrance
Temple entrance
Scalloped arch
Scalloped arch
Red door
Red door
Old doors with Electrical cables
Old doors with Electrical cables
Home meets world
Home meets world
Hand carved door
Hand carved door
Hand carved capital for a pillar
Hand carved capital for a pillar
Domes and Balcony
Domes and Balcony
Beautifully painted door
Beautifully painted door

Jama Masjid (E on the map)

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.

Red Fort (G on the map)

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.

Chandni Chowk (H)

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 (Walk from H to I), the jewelry market in Chandni Chowk. Follow the path all the way to Fatehpuri mosque (A on the map close to J)and to the Khari Baoli spice market (J on the map) 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.

Chhole bature shiv mishthan bhandar
Chhole bature shiv mishthan bhandar
Nagori aloo shiv misthan bhandar
Nagori aloo shiv misthan bhandar

Some of these restaurants may seem intimidating. I’ve eaten at these places and so have my guests 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, head to the Chandni Chowk metro station and get back to your hotel or onto the next destination.Here are more pictures of the sights

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Jama Masjid

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Mosque at Hauz Khas

Ultimate Hauz Khas Walk in Delhi

 

The ultimate Hauz Khas walk

Easy
1.5 kms/ 1.2 Miles
3 Hours
Hauz Khas

Orientation

Haus Khas is located in southern Delhi and is easily reached by the yellow line from most parts of Delhi. A short autorickshaw ride will get you to the Hauz Khas village or HKV as it popularly known today.

You can walk onto 900 year old monuments and experience how students lived a university situated here many years ago.

History of Hauz Khas

King of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316) built this water tank in 13th century for his new city Siri.

Today, not much remains of the city of Siri, the third city of the seven cities of Delhi. In 1906, Gordon Hearn wrote a book called the “Seven Cities of Delhi”. This hundred year old book says that, “the only monument connected with the city of Siri, which now exists is the Hauz Khas….. seldom visited and worthy of no special mention”.

I don’t think the he ever imagined how popular and spectacular Hauz khas will become in time. The The Archeological survey of India (ASI) issued a 2nd edition of his book in 2010, in case you want to buy it. Hauz Khas means a water tank in Urdu. This water talk was located outside of Siri and today the water tank is a third of it’s original size.

Feroze shah Tughlaq (1351-1388), was the son of a Hindu princes and a nephew of the founding king of the Tughlaq dynasty – Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. He took a liking to the neglected Hauz Khas and developed it further. This was one of many projects for him. He was a noble king who repaired forts built by others and also built a lot of mosques during his time.

Walking Map of hauz khas

Entrance to the tombs
Entrance to the tombs

The monuments at Hauz Khas

Start your walk from Point A on the map. Point A is the Bagh e alam ka gumbad or the dome of the people’s garden.

Bag-e-alam ka gumbad

Washed wall of the Dome
Washed wall of the Dome

Blue tiles Hauz Khas

Point B on the map is used to be the centre of lake many years ago and was the viewing pavillion for the king.

Munda gumbad or the Bald dome was located at the center of the lake. It was a viewing pavilion. Alauddid khilji built it during his reign and he used to come here by boat. Its hard to believe that today.

Munda Gumbad
Munda Gumbad

Teen gumbad ki Imarat

The building with three domes is the mosque at Hauz Khas. Not actively used but often frequented as look out stop by young lovers and students out to have a good time in ancient environs.

Mosque at Hauz Khas
Mosque at Hauz Khas

The arch came to India in the Delhi sultanate period, which is lasted from 300 years from 1210-1536. Only columns and beams were used prior to that. You can see the first arches of this period here. Hauz Khas was neglected after Alauddin Khilji died. It was taken over by Feroze Shah Tughlaq once he came to power.

Feroze Shah Tughlaq, a later king integrated his tomb into this complex. He ensured that he is remembered for generations to come by integrating his tomb in this structure.

We still talk about him 500 years after his death. He was the only one who built stupa like fences using stones. Hauz khas is the easiest place to see this in Delhi

The Tombs at Hauz Khas Feroze shah Tughlaq, his son and grandson are buried here. We do not know much about the 4th tomb. The ceiling has stars like pattern to show that they are buried under the stars.

The verse on top of the entrance says- Sikandar Lodi repaired this structure. This is also an interesting way to leave a mark in history. There are only three kinds of ornamentation in all mughal tombs: floral, geometric or calligraphic verses from the Quran. Shiyabuddin khan’s tomb is from the Lodi period 15th century. He was an important Saint.

All bodies are buried North (head) – South (feet) orientation and the face is turned towards Mecca. Right outside, at the entrance to the structure contains good example of preserved blue tiles that came to India in the sultanate period.

Note: Deer park is closed on Fridays.

The Actual Hauz Khas

The lake at Hauz Khas
The lake at Hauz Khas

The look out

Hauz Khas Lookout
Hauz Khas Lookout
Graffiti at Hauz Khas
Graffiti at Hauz Khas

Once you are done with the monuments, head into the village for a nice meal and drinks at Imperfecto or the Hauz Khas Social. Both are great places for drinking and people watching.

Eating and Drinking in Hauz Khas

Imperfecto: Drinks and viewsHauz Khas Social: Trendy bar and co-working spaceNaivedeyam for gluten free and vegan south indian food

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October to February are great months to be in Delhi. You can finally sit outside and eat without having to worry about carrying a change of clothes as you sweat through another sultry day in Delhi. These months can feel … Read More


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Historical walk through Kotla Mubarakpur

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Kotla is an urban village in the heart of South Delhi. It is very accessible and makes for a nice morning walk in Delhi. Here are the things you can see in Kotla and how to do it via a … Read More


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