Where people gaggle and lanes never end is the Chandani Chowk of Delhi! Walking through the dusty crowded alleys, smelling hot kababs and watching people shop for absolutely anything gives a feeling of how the olden times might have been. Jahanara the unwed princess of Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal designed and shaped the Chandani Chowk in 1650. While in there… I tried to fabricate how life might have been with nobles, veiled Begums, intoxicated poets, the seductive courtesans and the busy markets…
The whole place was very engaging. A lane was full of shops which sold an entire wedding trousseau while the other one was overloaded with textiles and it wasn’t a surprising when a man selling stoles chased you until the end of the lane. The next you know is a bunch of devout namazis praying in between the streets. What amused me is so much happens within seconds in this old town.
After a very long time our friend Tanu negotiated a good deal with a cycle rickshaw and we hoped on one to go to this famous and the most talked about restaurant called Karims! The legendary eatery for the Mughlai food. Slowly yet steady we tore through the crowds of the Chandani Chowk and reached the Jama Masjid where we had a sumptuous meal of kababs and bheja fry and rumali rotis! It is said that only sons in the family are allowed to enter the business. Daughters are not taught the complete recipes because they could reveal the secrets to outsiders after they marry… looks like its still the man’s world!
With our tummies full and despite the hot day we set off into the Jama Masjid. Huge and as grand as ever we must hold a thousand devotees. A yellow and red sandstone mosque is again a architectural extravaganza of the Emperor Shah Jahan. Wide staircases and arched gateways are the hallmark of this popular mosque so very suited to the area it is located in. We looked around and rested at one of the porches of the mosque which overlooked the Red Fort. The cool stone below us, the view of the Red Fort at our backs and grand minarets ahead of us was a compelling sight. Then I thought Chandni Chowk might not match the grandeur of these western cities but the truth is that the place with its monuments, places of worship, old buildings, and gallies (alleys) and their businesses has its own heritage, a world in its own.