From the memories of lost empires to the imperial glory of Lutyen’s Delhi, Delhi is full of magic. It doesn’t matter if you are a resident or a visitor, the city of Djinns will lure you all the same. Every wall in Delhi has a story to tell, and mystery is just waiting to be unraveled.
Historian and author of Where Stones Speak, Rana Safvi says, “Delhi’s charm lies in the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern. Be it Mehrauli, or Lutyen’s Delhi, the cityscape flows smoothly, without any conflict.” Talking about the culture of Delhi, Safvi goes on to say, “The Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, wherein multiple cultures flow together in harmony, originated here. Every ruler and king left behind part of their legacy, which came together to make Delhi as we know it today.”
While some enjoy the organised chaos of Old Delhi, others find solace in the lush green spaces of Central Delhi. Fashion designer Nida Mahmood, says, “As the first rays of the sun hit the tombs and monuments within Lodi Garden, I am reminded of a poem titled ‘Leisure’ by WH Davies, which says, ‘what is this life if, full of care, there is no time to stand and stare.’”
Here are 5 must-have experiences that you shouldn’t miss out on when in the city.
Sufi music at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
The shrine of one of the most beloved Sufi saints, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is best visited during the evening hours. Decked up with flowers and fancy lights, the dargah is the perfect place to get a glimpse into the city’s Sufi past. Pay it a visit on a Thursday evening, when the air is filled with the music of the qawwals.
Safvi says, “Delhi is known as ‘baais khwajaaon ki chowkhat’, as it was blessed by 22 Sufi saints, of which Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was one. He believed in the universality of religion and his teachings strike a chord with people the world over.”
Walk through Lodi Garden
A lush paradise situated in the power avenue of Delhi, Lodi Garden is a must-visit. The beautifully manicured gardens have various tombs which give a glimpse of Lodhi dynasty’s reign in the Capital.
Fashion designer Nida Mahmood says, “Catching the sunrise at Lodi Garden is one of the most invigorating experiences, especially in the middle of a busy city.”
Kanika Singh, founder of Delhi Heritage Walks, says, “A walk through the Lodi Garden is very popular among the locals as well as foreigners as it offers a vista into the city’s history. It is also one of the few public places in Delhi where people can be enjoy a walk and be at leisure.”
Bird’s Eye View from Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, is located amidst the bustling, bubbling lanes of the walled city of Shahjahanabad. The mosque’s southern minaret has 121 steps and is a steep climb to the top. Once there, the contrasting views of Old and New will sweep you off your feet.
Harshit Walia, audio/visual faculty at Amity University and independent photographer, says, “Capturing the early morning shot, during the golden hour, is one of the most enchanting experiences. It is the only point in Delhi from where you can get splendid views without any obstacles.”
Food at Old Delhi
The narrow lanes of Old Delhi are not only filled with the aroma of food, but also history. Take your pick from the butter-laden parathas of Galli Paranthe Wali, savoury dahi bhallas at Natraj, kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale or butter chicken at Karim’s. The place is best explored on foot as it also gives you time to digest everything!
Shashank Aggarwal, founder of the micro-blogging food network, foodiye.com, says, “People are drawn to Old Delhi not just for a great gastronomic experience, but also for its old world charm. The juxtaposition of Hindu and Muslim dominated food belts in one region is fascinating.” Apart from the popular places, there are many eateries which don’t have a name; they are recognized by the gallis.
“Gali Arya Samaj has two shops which serve the best kachori and bedims. Barsha Bulla Chowk has Lotan’s Chole Bhature. Chawri Bazaar is famous for fruit kuliya,” adds Aggarwal. The best time to visit the place is winters, but it is during Ramzan that the place really comes to life. “Even at 2am in the night, the streets are brightly lit and it feels like a carnival,” concludes Aggarwal.
An open-top jeep is ideally the best way to zoom across the boulevards of Raisina Hill, but any car or even a two-wheeler would do the trick. This particular road is the best way to witness the imperial majesty of Delhi. The feeling of patriotism that this part of Delhi invokes was best captured in the movie Rang De Basanti, when the group drives past India Gate, saluting the monument.