To know Purani Dilli (old Delhi), one must have the love for history and passion to explore the city. The most known and popular Moonlight Square, which is commonly known as Chandni Chowk, the oldest Indian bazaar (market) in existence today, serves as the symbolic heart of the city. A walk through old Delhi evokes all kinds of response that one can think of. Nostalgia for the past glory, hunger for the authentic street food of old Delhi, culture, temples, and everything else you could possibly imagine, this place has it. Often known as Shah Jahan’s city, if you are a real foodie, this is the place where you get authentic Mughlai dishes, and other street foods soaked up in the atmosphere of timeless old Delhi, authentic flavours for its age that is getting better with the time.
Some of the best old Delhi food is found in Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazaar, Jama Masjid, and Daryaganj. There is a plethora of food stalls and restaurants that serve multiple cuisines and would need few visits to cover the craving for the variety of dishes. The place has many shops and restaurants which have not changed for years. There is a long narrow stretch defining the historic row of stuffed Paranthas (stuffed bread), known as Paranthe wali galli (Delhi’s famous back street of deep fried bread), which have many choices and are pocket-friendly as well. Some of the eateries here are known for their specialty and are the pride of Chandni Chowk. The most famous Karim’s, Jalebiwala, Giani’s Di Hatti, Natraj Chat Bhandar and many other shops are in the adjoining areas.
The maze-like alleys, the congested streets, the shopping buzz, the stalls and the authentic food aroma in the breeze of Chandni Chowk, is what makes it charming. This fortified city has a long and astonishing history, the remains from its glorious past, which still makes it an amazing place to explore. Old Delhi was often called as Great Walled city during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, who built Delhi as India’s Capital and protected this city by a wall and with its 14 gates which still can be seen in the form of these glorious fortifications. Some are still standing upright around the city- Kashmiri Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Turukman Gate, Delhi Gate, and Feroz Shah Kotla. Purani Dilli, also known as the capital of Muslim India, since 17th – 19th century, houses number of forts, heritage buildings, monuments, havelis (mansions) and mosques. The streets, smell, and structures of old Delhi still reflect the shimmering moonlight on Chandni Chowk which is a house for merchants trading with gold, silver, spices, perfumes and other wholesale shops. Temples and shrines, still grace and whisper the stories of the Mughal Era.
Old Delhi holds its richness with the contrasts of history and the modern civilisation. The famous landmarks such as Chandni Chowk, Red Fort, Jama Masjid sustain its prime attraction of old Delhi. Not only this, after walking a little through the narrow alley, the real market gets to start with the buzz of vendors selling and attracting customers with their offers. The oldest bazaar that is densely populated has been around for over three centuries and is the perfect place for shopaholics.
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