The Delhi Metro is planning to go off-track. Taking off from the recently laid heritage line that includes the stops — Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid and Red Fort — the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is now enticing people to explore the areas of the walled city with their newly curated ‘heritage walks’.
Chandni Chowk, Dariba Kalan, Sisganj gurudwara, Digambar Jain Lal mandir…name it and the itinerary of the walks will have every popular spot from the city covered for the visitors for a nominal price of Rs 500.
“This is an excellent opportunity for people to know about the rich cultural heritage of Delhi. These walks enable you to come to the oldest part of the city, where access by car and other modes of transport is difficult,” said Anuj Dayal, from DMRC.
Under the initiative, DMRC, in collaboration with ‘Delhi Walks’, has planned eight walks in August over the weekends.
During the hour-long walk, visitors are led by a guide, who seemingly subconsciously repeats, “Don’t get lost”, through the trail.
Come Dariba Kalan (market famous for jewellery) and Kinari Bazaar, one realises why.
Each lane gets narrower and busier.
“Shah Jahan built this city because he wanted a bigger and better place than Agra, where he built the famous Taj Mahal. But, then it was inhabited by people from Agra, who came here and started living in the same way they used to!” said the ‘Delhi Walks’ explorer.
Why was it called Chandni Chowk?
The story goes that the water in a hitherto canal here reflected the bright moonlight.
Hence, the street came to be known as ‘Chandni Chowk’ or the ‘moonlight square’.
But, before getting into the nooks and corners of the streets, is the Bhai Mati Das chowk, named after a sikh martyr.
A look around the place is symbolic of India’s secular nature, where temples, church, gurudwara and a mosque stand tall in harmony.
“The beauty of this street is that it starts at the Red fort, covering the Jain temple, Gauri Shankar temple, Central Baptist church, Sisganj gurudwara on the way, and ends at the Fatehpuri masjid,” she added.
However, it is the Naughara (Nine homes)- a space inhabited by the Jain community, that is a relic of ancient Indian architecture.
The place has a group of havelis, with distinct looking doorways.
“This land was provided to the Jain community and also has a Shewatambar Jain mandir next to it,” she noted.
The few halts in the trip involve sweet indulgences at Chandni Chowk’s old and famous jalebiwala!
Sadly, one has to make do only with the whiff of fresh paranthas, as the trip barely skirts around the famous paranthewali gali.