INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT DELHI
Did You Know:
- The foundation of the 1st city of Delhi is believed to date back to 3100 BC
- Delhi has been built & destroyed 10 times
- The walled city is the 10th city of Delhi, which was built by Emperor Shah Jahan
- The city is also known as Shahajahanabad
- Shah Jahan is the same emperor who built the amazingly beautiful Taj Mahal
- Red Fort is world’s largest non functional fort and is a UNESCO World Heritage site
- India’s largest mosque Jama Masjid is one of the top ten largest mosques of the world
- It houses Asia’s largest Spice Market
- British occupied this city in 1803 and declared it as their capital in 1911
- Handed down from father to son, many shops and eateries are India famous and are
being managed by the 5th - 6th generations
About Chandni Chowk:
- This street was designed by Shah Jahan's beloved daughter Jahanara, for her shopping pleasure
- A tram used to ply on this street till 1963, there are plans to start it again
- This street has shrines of 5 different religions peacefully coexisting
- The British imperial processions used to pass the street of Chandni Chowk till 1904 & India’s Republic Day parade used to pass till 2002
This Street is a:
- Shopper's Delight: Grandest market of Delhi, with wide variety of shops & unbelievable prices
- Foodies Paradise: The real flavors of Delhi’s street food
- Theologian's Dream: One of the most secular street in the world - it has a Jain Temple, Hindu Temple, Mosque, Sikh Temple & a Christian Church
MAJOR ATTRACTIONS- CHANDNI CHOWK AREA
An UNESCO world heritage site, this is the largest fort built under the Mughal Empire. Shah Jahan built this amazingly beautiful royal palace known as Red Fort or Lal Qila. It was begun in 1639 and completed in 1648. The name Red Fort comes from the massive red sandstone walls that surround it. River Yamuna used to flow through the Red Fort Canal to prevent invasions of the fort. It now runs dry as Yamuna flow 2 kms away from Red Fort. The Red Fort has walls extending up to 2 kms in length with the height varying from 18 mts. on the river side to 33 mts. on the city side. Even today, the Red Fort (Lal Qila) is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal Empire. Red Fort is the venue of Independence Day celebrations on the 15th of August in modern India.
The Red Fort also houses:
The Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audiences – Here he would hear the complaints of the common people.
The Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience - This hall is made of marble, and its centre-piece used to be the Peacock Throne, which was studded with rubies and gems.
The Rang Mahal or the 'Palace of Colors - It housed the Emperor's wives and mistresses.
Other attractions within this monument are hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj, Shah Jahan's private working area and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque.
SRI DIGAMBAR JAIN LAL
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non violence towards all living beings. It is believed that Jainism was founded by Lord Mahavira, Born in 599 BC. As a prince, he renounced all worldly pleasures and comforts and went in search of 'Moksha' (salvation). Soon he attained enlightenment and spent the rest of his life preaching to the people all over the country about the eternal truth of life and ways to attain Moksha.
Digambar Jain Temple is the oldest temple of the Jain religion in the capital. Originally built in 1656, the temple has undergone many alterations and additions in the past and was enlarged in the early 19th century. It is also known for an avian veterinary hospital (bird hospital) in a second building behind the main temple. A manastambha column stands in front of the temple. The main idol in the temple is that of Lord Parshvanath.
The temple is quite popular among the people as devotees come and make offerings such as fruits, grains, rice and even candles. The place is very peaceful and the ambiance is really soothing especially due to the shining of the gilded paintwork of the shrine area under the lights of butter lamps and candles.
The bird hospital was founded in 1956 on the Jain principle of aversion to killing. The hospital has separate wards in form of cages for different species like sparrows, parrots, domestic fowls, peacocks and pigeons. It also has a research laboratory and even an intensive care unit for its serious patients. At any given time, there are three to five thousand birds in the hospital. They are eventually released after treatment.
GAURI SHANKAR TEMPLE MANDIR
This is one of the most important temples of Shiv-ism in the country It has an 800-year-old brown lingam made of silver encased in a marble representation of the feminine with a silver water vessel above it from which droplets of water continuously fall. The other attraction here is the wall behind the idols of Lord Shiva and Parvati, which has beautiful silver paintings depicting the scenes from the life of Lord. There are bejeweled statues of Gauri (Goddess Parvati) and Shankar (Lord Shiva) and and their two sons, Ganesh, the elephant headed and Kartik, the god of war, standing beneath the silver canopy, inside the main shrine.
The temple is purely dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shiva is a major Hindu deity and symbolizes destruction. Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything which happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. He looks like an eternal youth because of his authority over death, rebirth and immortality.
Before reaching to the temple you can smell it soothing fragrances, owing to the several flower shops in the vicinity selling flowers to offer to the deity. The Shivling is bathed with milk, butter, curd, sugar and honey (believed to be the foods granting immortality). Dhatura and jati, though poisonous fruits and Bael (Bilva) leaves and Lotus leaves are sacred to Shiva and therefore offered.
The foundation of the historic Jama Masjid aka (Friday Mosque) was laid on a hillock by Shah Jahan on Friday, October 19, 1650. The mosque was the result of the efforts of over 5,000 workers, over a period of seven years. The cost incurred on the construction in those times was a whopping 10lakh(1 million) Rupees. This is the largest mosque of India and is also one of the 10 largest mosques of the World.
It has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. About 25,000 people can pray here at a time. The whole of the western chamber is a big hall standing on 260 pillars all carved from Hindu and Jain traditions. The courtyard of the mosque can be reached from the east, north and south by three flights of steps, all built of red sandstone. These steps used to house food stalls, shops and street entertainers. In the morning, the eastern side of the mosque used to be converted into a bazaar for poultry and birds in general.
However, the greatest treasure of the Jama Masjid is, undoubtedly, the hair of the beard of Prophet Hazrat Mohammed, kept in the northeast corner of the white shrine. It also preserves his used chappal (slippers), a chapter of Koran taken from its original holy book, the canopy of his tombstone and the foot print of Muhammad on the stone.
SHIV MISHTHAN, HAZARILAL KHURCHAN, CHAINARAM HALWAI & JALEBIWALA
These are some very old sweet shops in Delhi. Down the centuries, they have remained in the same family and is now are now in the hands of the newer generations. They have purveyed delectable sweets and spicy savories to some of the greatest names in Indian History and to anyone else who loves wholesome sweetmeats and snacks. They use fresh and high quality ingredients and take pride in preparing their delicacies using traditional style and recipes.
CHRISTIAN CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH
It is probably the oldest Christian mission in the whole of the northern Indian region. In the late 18th century, the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS), London, purchased a piece of land near Red Fort where the Central Baptist Church was established in 1814.This church is a fine example of European architecture of that time. The southern side entrance of the church has a large deep colonnaded porch supported on thick heavy circular columns. Likewise the other two sides have double height verandahs with semi-circular arched openings. The church has been well maintained with its original motifs and carvings. However, the roof of the church has been re-laid with stones and iron beams. The walls of the church have memorial tablets remembering the faithful who devoted their whole life in service of the church.
GURDWARA SIS GANJ
The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib is built at the site where the ninth Sikh Guru (spiritual teacher), Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1675, for refusing to convert to Islam. After almost a century, a devotee of Guru Teg Bahadur discovered the site and constructed this Gurdwara, in the form of memorials.
At the same site Bhai Mati Das, disciple of the Guru was sawn in half from head to loins. Bhai Sati das condemned these brutalities and he too was tortured. He was eventually wrapped in cotton and burnt alive. Dayal Das also spoke tersely to the Emperor and his courtiers for this infernal and barbaric acts. He was tied up like a bundle and thrown into a huge cauldron and boiled alive into a block of charcoal.
This is Located opposite Gurdwara Sisganj on the edge of the street leading to Old Delhi Railway Station. It has a Victorian-period fountain, which was earlier called as Northbrook Fountain because Lord Northbrook donated money for its construction.
It was this site that Bhai Mati Das, a disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur was sawn in half, lengthwise, because he refused to adopt Islam and adhere to the order of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Thereafter the Chowk is called as Bhai Mati Das Chowk in memory of the great disciple. Other disciples of Guru Teg Bahadur were also brutally killed here.
Built by Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan in 1721 is this golden domed building called Sunehari Masjid, popularly known as the Golden Mosque.
The Persian invader Nadir Shah had sat on the terrace for hours on 11th March 1739 and ordered katl-e-aam (killing of everyone in sight) which resulted in the death of 30000 people. His soldiers pillage the golden bazaars of Chandni Chowk and tried to collect maximum booty. He collected 30 crore in cash beside Jewels, gold and silver. He carried with him the 'Peacock Throne of Shah Jahan' including the famous koh-i-noor diamond, which alone costs a crore. Nadir Shah also took along with him 100 elephants, 7000 horses, 10000 camels, 130 writers, 200 smiths, 300 masons and builders and 200 carpenters.
GALIS (NARROW LANES)
DARIBA KALAN: Delhi's ancient silver market in Shahjahanabad is definitely worth a visit. You'll not only find jewelry but an amazing range of old silver artifacts, hookah bases, platters, water jugs and so on. Each piece is weighed and priced on the official billion rates for the day but some amount of bargaining is permitted on the making charge.
KINARI BAZAAR: Kinari Bazar is a one-stop halt for anything required for a traditional grand Indian Wedding. You name it and the 70+ shops within, have it: colorful turbans for the groom, Brocade Suits, tinsel accessories, ornamental lace, garlands put together with currency notes and glittery strings, elaborate wedding card scrolls, velvet pouches, crystal bangles and more. This place is any brides dream come true as it has everything a bride would need to put together for her marital wardrobe.
PARATHEWALI GALI: This place has many shops making parathas (type of plain or stuffed Indian bread) fried in home-made clarified butter and served with vegetables and pickles. They taste extraordinarily good when you have them straight from the pan. If you have a sweet tooth then you can have rabri, falooda-kulfi, lassi and sweetmeats.
BALLIMARAN: Shops of shoes, other leather products and opticians. Ballimaran gets its name from the people who used to reside in this area long ago and were involved with making 'Ballis' which meant boats.
KATRA NEEL: Shops of all kinds of fabrics, however exotic or expensive. Fabrics like silk, satin, crepe, net, cotton, linen and muslin are just examples of the sheer variety found here. This Gali also has a very high concentration of Shiva Temples.
NAI SARAK: It has a large wholesale and retail trade, mainly school and university textbooks. The street is so named because it is relatively new and everything is done by the British after the war in 1857. It is surrounded by two-story buildings, mostly dominated by the 20th century architecture.
Built in 1865, this was earlier The Lawrence Institute of educational and cultural affairs. Later it was converted into the municipal headquarters but the European club and library continued to exist in it. The architecture of the building represents the Victorian and Edwardian style. The statue of Queen Victoria outside has been replaced by Swami Shraddhanand’s. The place where it stands once formed part of the gardens laid by Shah Jehan’s daughter, Jehanara. This is built in an area of 16 acres It was damaged in the earthquake of 1905 and 1952. In front of this there was the clock tower that collapsed in 1952. Town Hall is still one of the biggest landmarks of Chandni Chowk.
Rai Lala Chunnamal ki Haveli is the only well-preserved Haveli in this area. Lala Chunnamal and his family were merchants of brocade and textiles during the Mughal period. When the first municipality for Delhi was formed in 1862, Lala Chunnamal was appointed Municipal Commissioner.
After the 1857 rebellion, Lala Chunnamal emerged as the wealthiest person in Delhi. Chunnamal was the first person in Delhi to acquire an automobile and a phone. It is spread over one acre, with 128 rooms is built on the three floors. The tenth generation of the Chunnamal family currently lives in it. It is surrounded by 139 shops. An inscription on the drawing room wall states that it was built in 1848. Parts of it were built in 1864
A 17th-century mosque located at the western end of, Chandni Chowk It thus counterbalances the Red Fort on the opposite end of Chandni Chowk. Fatehpuri Masjid was built in 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of the Queen of Shah Jahan. The mosque at Taj Mahal is also named after her.
The mosque is built using red sandstone and has a fluted dome with mahapadma and kalash on the top. Flanked by minarets, the mosque has a traditional design with the prayer hall having seven-arched openings. The mosque has single and double storeyed apartments on the sides. Currently a school is also being run inside the mosque.
KHARI BAOLI OR THE SPICE MARKET
Khari Baoli is the Asia's largest wholesale spice market. It was during Shah Jahan's reign that the Khari Baoli, (the stepped well) was constructed along with a fortified gateway on its western end popularly known as Lahori Gate. The gateway was so named because a road through it led to the city of Lahore now in Pakistan. However, today there is no trace of either the Baoli or the gateway here.
At present, the street of Khari Baoli has a congested and busy market with shops on both sides selling spices, nuts and herbs. The visitor will have a unique experience here viewing the whole process of market of loading, carrying or unloading of huge sacks of items from manual trolleys, shopkeepers busy in dealing with the customers, customers selecting large quantities of items and weary laborers resting and chatting aloud. The overall appearance seems to be very chaotic but in reality it is very well managed if kept in consideration the fact that such a large amount of trading of small items are carried out daily.
LAL KUAN AND ZINAT MAHAL
The name Lal Kuan stands for a Red sandstone well. The street has also been named after this well. This street is famous for kites of all colors, shapes and sizes which can be found here and people can be seen huddling up at the nearest kite shop. As a symbol of freedom Delhiites fly kites all day in the month of August.
This also has the palace of the last Mughal Queen Zeenat Mahal built in 1846. She was the favorite wife of the the Emperor Bahadur Shah II, thus the palace is named after her . Since, emperor was very fond of Zinat Mahal she enjoyed all luxuries and comforts in this palace. The palace was spread over 4 acres and was beautifully decorated with murals and other expensive items to please the queen. Attended by the rows of servants in the palace, she would receive a grand welcome in emperor's chamber. Beating of drums and playing of other musical instruments would mark the arrival of her palanquin lined with number of bodyguards. However, today it would be difficult to imagine the brilliance and grandeur of this building seeing its present condition, survived by an imposing gateway, few arched pavilions and the outer wall.
Once popularly known for its bewitching dancing girls in the 19th century, the street is named after a Marathi word 'chawri', which means meeting place. The street got this name mainly because a gathering used to get organized when a respected dancer performed and showed the finer nuances of her skill. The whole ambiance of the street however got changed after the 1857 war when British destroyed many huge mansions of the nobles.
Today, Chawri Bazaar is a very busy road as laborers with their laden backs, cars, rickshaws, scooters and walkers almost battle for the passage during the peak market hours. Again it is also a wholesale market but you will be allowed to purchase a brass or copper idol of Lord Vishnu, Buddha and others. The shops also keep many useful items like jewelry boxes, vases, pots and oil lamps. However, at present Chawri Bazaar is more known as the wholesale market of paper products than copper or brass. From beautiful wedding cards to attractive wallpapers to nice greetings to any types of papers required for any use, everything is available here in retail as well as in wholesale. Though the whole process is very exhausting but it will be a day to remember, as you will definitely enjoy it
Chawri Bazar is the deepest station of the Delhi Metro network and is situated about 30 meters (98 ft) below ground level.
G.B. ROAD (SHRADHANAND MARG)
This is the biggest red light area in Delhi. The history of G.B. Road can be dated back to Mughal era. It is said that there were total five red light areas or kothas in Delhi at that time. Then came the British Rule when a British collector consolidated all the five kothas to one area and christened it on his own name, Garstin Bastion Road or simply G. B. Road. Although there is nobody around day time however it is interesting in the evenings, with the women in the kothas on one side, and men hoping to get lucky on the other side of the road.
Of all the main fourteen gates of Shahjahanabad, Ajmeri Gate located on the southwest of the walled city, near the New Delhi Railway Station is among the four existing gates that have escaped demolition. Ajmeri Gate was named so because a thoroughfare from the gate led to the city of Ajmer. Almost square in plan, the gate was built with high arched openings. During the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, all these gates were well guarded and were closed at night. Ajmeri Gate has been restored and is at present surrounded by a good park.
The original Kotwali (police station) functioned here since the Mughal period. Anyone accused of a crime was brought here in custody and was given trial. The dead bodies of the sons and grandsons of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, were also displayed here. Many martyrs and freedom fighters, such as the King of Ballabhgarh and Nawab of Jhajjar, were also hung here, protesting against British rule. At present, the Kotwali area is under the Gurdwara Sisganj Management Committee.
Haveli: A mansion. A normal haveli would have a big courtyard (atrium) surrounded on four sides by spacious rooms and often another walled courtyard around the exterior as well.
Kucha: A zone with houses whose owners shared some common attribute, usually their occupation. Hence the names Maliwara, the gardeners' neighborhood and Ballimaran, the oarsmen’s neighborhood.
Gali: A narrow passageway running between buildings.
Katra: Refers to a separate wing of tradesmen and craftsmen belonging to the same trade. They usually lived and worked together. A system similar to the guild housing in Amsterdam
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