by Mibu Minami
My first visit to Old Delhi was back in 2016, when my husband and I first arrived in Delhi. We’ve had our share of travel experiences and didn’t have much thought about preparing our visit to the symbolic soul of the city. We set out early, perhaps too early, just the two of us into the quiet abyss of dark narrow paths, tangled wires, garbage covered pavements and the occasional rats and cats who went about their business hardly noticing the two nervous tourists walking cautiously by. I admit I was apprehensive at first, tiptoeing between the garbage, gripping my husband’s hand (a bit too hard), both unsure of which street to turn into but gradually got the hang of it. Eventually, things came to life with cleaners sweeping away the ‘life’ left on the streets from the day before, women settling themselves on the corner stringing Marigold flowers and young men shuffling through the streets to get ready for another bustling day.
After some exploring, we made a visit to Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. The 17th century mosque is truly an impressive structure and definitely worth the visit. They offer covers for feet as shoes are not allowed inside and women are provided (and required) to wear a “frock” to cover themselves which for me was uncomfortable and unsanitary.
After our first visit, I grew more curious about Old Delhi. You just know there is so much more going on within! Few months later, I made a second visit with a friend who came from abroad to visit us in India. We booked a full day tour with Old Delhi Walking Tour which included a taste of Old Delhi street food, a walk through the bazaar, the temples, the Khari Baoli spice market and a delicious meal at a traditional Haveli. Another incredible experience with a peek into the life of those working and living in the heart of Old Delhi.
I’ve frequented Old Delhi several times since, playing guide to friends who came to visit us in India, taking them through the chaos of Chandni Chowk Market then taking a peaceful break at Haveli Dharampura. Old Delhi was also one of the visits with the Seven Cities group (you can read about Seven Cities on our site) which ended with a wonderful group lunch at the famous Karim’s restaurant. Each visit comes with new discoveries (and surprises), all the senses coming alive with the adrenaline rush of Old Delhi lingering for hours after.
I miss visiting Old Delhi and hope to visit soon. From walking tours to rickshaw and street food tasting tours, there are a variety of tours available (do check safety protocols). I was told about a cycling tour through Old Delhi and I am very keen to try it…anyone want to come along?
Old Delhi Walking Tour: www.masterjikeehaveli.com
Haveli Dharampura: https://havelidharampura.com/
Karim’s Restaurant: https://karimhotels.com/