Old Delhi assails the visitor with its overwhelming array of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Ages removed from New Delhi in terms of character, this place somehow touches your soul. Yes, the streets are chaotic and the traffic is maddening but it’s all part and parcel of the overall gratifying experience that most people cherish about Old Delhi. In short, the place has charm, lots of it. A quick glimpse into Old Delhi will reveal just some of its charms that beckon travellers.
The Magnificence of Red Fort
Envisage a monstrosity in red sandstone punctuated with lush green gardens across an area of around 255 acres and you get Red Fort. There used to be a time when the Kohinoor diamond was part of its furnishings. The fort served as home to different Mughal emperors for nearly 200 years. Even today, on Independence Day, the Prime Minister addresses the nation from the fort after hoisting the country’s flag. Don’t miss the ‘Sound and Light Show’ in the evenings.
The Spiritual Highs of Jama Masjid
Built by Shah Jahan, arguably the most artistic of all Mughal emperors, the Jama Masjid astounds as much by its beauty as by its size. The mosque is India’s largest and can accommodate 25,000 devotees in its courtyard. Jama Masjid has three huge gateways flanked by a flight of stairs, two 40-metre high minarets, and four angle towers. Take in indescribably exhilarating views of the Old Delhi landscape and beyond from the top.
The Temptations of the Carnivorous Trail
Right outside the Jama Masjid, there are countless small as well as big restaurants, which dish out scores of delectable chicken, goat, buffalo, and other dishes. The legendary Karim’s and Al Jawahar restaurants are also situated here. Make sure that you sample the succulent Mutton burra at Karim’s. If you visit on a winter morning, have the nutritious goat-leg soup for breakfast and start your sightseeing trip with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
Tanking up at the Parathe Wali Gali
This lane is perhaps the mother of all parathas (an Indian concoction of fried bread of dough) in the world and surely a paradise for vegetarians. The humble Indian paratha here effortlessly overcomes all your senses, especially the sense of taste. Take your pick from a variety of fillings such as cauliflower, peas, radish, potato, dry fruits, mushrooms, and a lot more. Some of the shops are over a century old. These are Pt Kanhaiyalal Durgaprasad Dixit (since 1875), Pt Dayanand Shivcharan (since 1882), and Pt Baburam Devidayal Paranthewale (since 1886).