This Sunday, hop on to Delhi Metro Heritage Line to savour Old Delhi sights
The Delhi Metro Heritage Line becomes operational this weekend, connecting the slice of the city between Janpath and Kashmere Gate. It’s the best mode of transport to see everything from the Janpath flea market to Jama Masjid.delhi Updated: May 26, 2017 22:56 IST
Delhi Metro’s new Heritage Line, which becomes operational in June, means better connectivity for north-bound passengers from Old Delhi. In traversing the breadth of Old Delhi, the Metro will also make it easier for the average Delhiite to access some of the less car-friendly places and the finer delights tucked inside the narrow lanes of the chaotic Walled City. The newest stretch of the Metro between Janpath and Kashmere Gate, once fully operational, should have a little something for everyone – the shopaholics, the foodies, and the culture buffs. Here are some of the destinations to explore once the entire line is thrown open to the public.
The iconic path connecting Connaught Place and the roundabout nearest to Lodhi Gardens is a top destination for shoppers from all over the city. The sheer diversity of the famous market area close to Janpath Metro station means that with a bit of luck and some bargaining chops, you can almost always find what you need at a pocket-friendly price. Right outside the station, you will find the Tibetan Market with its array of antique and souvenir shops. The Gujarati Market is the one to go for if you’re looking for bright ethnic clothing and handicrafts, such as carpets, drapes, and pillow cases.
For the younger college-going crowd, the main market and the flea market have always been the go-to place for on-point jewellery, accessories, and chic clothing – all available for a handsome discount with some skill and persistence.
Long regarded as the cultural hub of the city, Mandi House is your destination of choice if you want to spend an evening away from the usual humdrum of malls and cinemas. A short walk away from the station is Kamani Auditorium – one of the biggest musical and performing arts platforms in the country, regularly playing host to the biggest names from the world of classical music, dance, and contemporary arts from all over India. Theatre buffs will not be disappointed, with the Little Theatre Group and the National School of Drama, two of the premiere venues in the country, being a stone’s throw away. Drama shows are on almost daily. There are many other auditoriums dotting the area, like Lalit Kala Kendra, Shri Ram Centre of Performing Arts, and Triveni Kala Kendra, ensuring a rich variety of cultural entertainment on any given evening, especially on weekends.
DARYAGANJ (NEAR DELHI GATE)
This Old Delhi neighbourhood has long been kept at bay from most Delhiites, located as it is behind a difficult labyrinth of congested roads and impossibly narrow alleyways. But that’s soon set to change with a Metro station opening right in its backyard. Daryaganj holds the reputation of being one of the biggest (and perhaps the best) book bazaars in the city. The criss-crossed lanes and alleys around Delite Cinema hold everything a bookworm could dream of, from second-hand editions and bestseller knock-offs to coveted hardcover copies, rare coffee table books, and rare first print runs that should cost a fortune but, with a little luck, can be acquired at throwaway prices.
One is best served on the Sunday morning when the legendary weekly kitaab mandi descends upon Asaf Ali Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg, opening up a booklover’s paradise. The immense selection of printed works (including the academic and the esoteric) are often sold by the kilo (you read that right), prompting a free-for-all buying spree by even the most careful spender.
While the Mughal-era grand mosque has always remained a must-see destination for tourists, the area will host a lot more Delhiites now, since the manic mayhem of the place will now be just a comfortable train ride away. The rich expanse of Meena Bazaar is always open for conquest and plunders at the hands of festive shoppers. Its true charm lies in the gastronomical delights of the old city, passed down generations in the sweetshops and eateries in the dense urban jungle around the mosque. A good day might include Kashmiri and Afghani cuisine at Gali Kebabiyan, which includes famous establishments like Kashmiri Wazwan, the ever popular Babu Bhai Kabab Wale, and Qureshis, Mughlai cuisine at Karim’s and Pehelwaan Biriyaniwaale. Finish off with some melt-in-the-mouth shahi-tukda at the iconic Cool Point. The possibilities are endless. Each establishment has something delicious to offer, and hence the adventure is best had with multiple trips –with the new Metro line, there are no excuses.
CHOR BAZAAR (BEHIND LAL QUILA)
Every Sunday, the the backlanes of the Red Fort host one of the most notorious markets in the city. Witnessed firsthand, Chor Bazaar is a spectacle – three parts amazement, two parts nostalgia – selling almost everything under the sun, from counterfeit merchandise to factory surplus clothing and goods, hardware, crockery, sports equipment, musical instruments… you name it and you will probably find it.
Chor Bazaar also draws collectors looking for vintage gadgets, memorabilia, and souvenirs for a bargain, making it ideal if you want to hunt for that unique gift or go for photo walks. Just don’t expect any warranty. To get the most out the market, one must show up early in the morning and deal with the abysmal lack of a parking lot. Both of these should get easier with the new Metro station that is just a few yards away.