July 10, 2006
While Mumbai was drowning last week, Delhi was baking. We got a short preview of the monsoon this weekend, but it’s left us, riddled with mosquito bites, despite its heralded arrival in all of the weather reports. All that’s needed to disprove the joyous headlines of “The monsoon has arrived!” is a quick peek out the window.
This weekend went on a Heritage Walking tour of Old Delhi that cost all of 30 rupees. It is sponsored by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, and walking tours are conducted by student volunteers all over India. I definitely recommend it to anyone—the guides were interesting and they pointed out all of the best places to eat.
Old Delhi is called Shahjahanabad after the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who moved his capital there in the 1600s from Agra after his wife, Mumtaz, died. Within five minutes of starting down the main road Chandni Chowk, we had passed a Jain mandir, a Hindu temple, a Sikh gurudwara, and a Baptist church. Every building seemed to have its own special historic importance. Sisganj Gurudwara, where the ninth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur, was martyred, is directly next to Sunehri Masjid, where Iranian invader Nadir Shah watched a pyramid of dead bodies pile up during the massacre he ordered in 1737. Of course, right across the street from these monuments was a brand new McDonald’s, which, as we were told six times, had no bathroom.
We were taken along little streets and back lanes off Chandni Chowk, where among markets hundreds of years old, we would happen upon havelis (mansions) and gateways with intricate carvings and unparalleled architecture. Just when we thought we would wilt under the sun, a family sent down cold water for all of us.
Perhaps the best part of the tour were the paneer parathas fried in butter from a shop on Paranthewali Gali. The dirty little shops along that lane were adorned with pictures of the people like Nehru and Indira Gandhi eating the famous stuffed parathas.
Oh—it’s just started raining! Hopefully, this time, it’ll last.
Posted by sushmar at July 10, 2006 07:54 AM