The Story of the Bloody Uprising of 1857

Bahadur Shah Zafar’s walled city of Shahjahanabad, was indeed a bubble of Mughal high culture and fine tradition, until the revolt of 1857 massacred the whole place, asked a meek King who enjoyed his wine and poetic evenings, to be the leader. As the British were busy exercising control, Zafar was immersed in coming up with perfect Urdu couplets. The Uprising of 1857, a war between the British teachers and their Indian students of the Army was a religious enigma. A walk through the Northern Ridge would make it come alive, the horrors of the mutiny, where the high caste Hindu soldiers started the war to restore the glory of a Muslim emperor by fighting against a Christian force, however the so-called Christian force were not all whites either: they were basically natives.

A walk through the Northern Ridge would take us through the Viceregal house, which is now in Delhi University, the power center till the Independence struggle, during the revolt. Taking a ride from there the Flagstaff tower from the main gate of Northern Ridge takes you through the haunting stories towards the Khooni Jheel, Tughlaq architecture which came into prominence due to its location in 1857. Further as we move forward, from the Northern ridge area, we come across the Mutiny Memorial a Gothic structure which was put up by British after crushing the 1857 uprising to show the strength and prowess of the new born Empire.

While the British were busy establishing a city to reflect their power over the later to be called the ‘jewel in the crown’, the earlier part of the Empire’s administration was done from the Walled city, as that was the seat of the power.

A walk around the precincts of the Walled City would showcase the mix of material cultures which are the remnants of our historical past.

The Morning Raga of Old Delhi!

Get.Set.Go, is the mantra that we believe in our organisation. Are you ready to enjoy a unique experience of a comfortable, cushy rickshaw ride brought to you by India City Walks. It is once in a lifetime experience which I’m sure you would not want to miss out on. With super comfortable rickshaws, brilliant storytelling to cater to your knowledge thirst and the narrow lanes which brim with activity all through the day will take you for a experience which will be etched in your memory. As the sun rises over the Walled city, which echo of some activities, where else would you find, the sleepy heads waking up to incessant chanting of mantras, from the Gauri Shankar temple, the serene ardas of Gurudwara Sis Ganj as well as the chapel in the Central Baptist Church will take you for a spiritual journey down the main street. The loud fajr azaan resonating from the walls of Jama Masjid’s imposing minarets is the cherry on the cake. While you are experiences all this in one go, I officially welcome you to the walled city of Shahjahanabad! While the shops are still closed, the shopkeepers would be seen sipping hot chai and waiting for the pakoras to be fried, which becomes their breakfast and kickstarts their hectic day!

The narrow alleys of Old Delhi move at a pace that they know of, especially in the mornings when they take their own sweet time to get up and get going with the day. Experience the unbelievable tranquility of a sleepy city with ‘Rickshaw Tours’, a flagship vertical of ‘India City Walks’ that curates special offbeat experiences to let you see city from a eye of a local. So what is a rickshaw?

Light, three wheeled passenger bicycle vehicle which carries one or more people according to the size and shape of the rickshaws. The custom made rickshaws which are owned by India City Walks have been designed to keep in mind the heritage, history and the culture of the historic walled city, which strives to offer the comfort and safety of the travellers who come to Old Delhi.

Be it any sort of experience, relating to food tour or just simple heritage tour, we are here to cater to a lot of varieties to give you the best of experiences. When paranthas at the Paranthewali Gali is a favourite for vegetarians, a rickshaw tour around Matia Mahal, opposite Jama Masjid, serves a quintessential breakfast meal which is filling at the same time a favourite amongst the locals. Nihari is the most famous breakfast meal around, which involves slow cooking of meat with nearly fifty varieties of spices, including garam masala, cumin, cardamom and other strong spices. This spicy dish is best eaten only in the morning. All passionate foodies who have a stomach of a pandora’s box, can join us for a tour in the meshed wired lanes of matia Mahal, which brims with the smell of lots of spices.

We understand, crawling out of bed, right in the morning is a tedious task, and we at ‘India City Walks’ strive to give you the rare glimpse of serene Shahjahanabad through the empty lanes and alleys.

A Unique perspective to Old Delhi, the history of Shahjahanabad can be sought while you take a rickshaw tour, as we do impromptu storytelling of all the places you visit, the colours and the soul of Old Delhi which makes it a living fabric of the city. Shot halt’s around the city where you would step down to experience the places, will be done, and of course for food tasting. Pick your bet, whether a food tour or a heritage tour, we are ever ready to deliver the best of the experiences!

The Effervescent City: Delhi!

Imagine a place, the longest serving capital of India, if not for urbanization; most of the sites could have been earmarked as archaeological sites. A place which is rich in cultural history, blending in since the medieval times. Yes, you heard me right! Delhi is a place which is ever evolving. The vibrancy of the place is marked by the hustle bustle of a cosmopolitan city blending with the pockets of traditional cultures, which adds to the diversity that is Delhi!

With all this, Delhi is also the home to the grand architectures which have been adorning the glory of the city since 12th century. Right from the forts, elaborate gateways to centuries old market place. With the urbanization kicking in, most of the heritage sites have been hugely neglected which adds on to their desecration. A case in point can be taken of Mehrauli Village. Major chunk of the architecture belonged to the Sultanate period which are either in ruins, not taken care of, or highly polluted because of lack of social awareness. This was the first ever city built in Delhi that we are talking about.

In contrast, the New Delhi area reflects the glory and the prowess of the British Empire. While a major chunk of the archaeological sites can be marked in South of Delhi, the grandeur in terms of material remains is what can be seen in the hamlet which we popularly call as ‘The Walled City’, the home to famous Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, and Jama Masjid to name a few. A treasure trove of cultures, the walls of the for city have a lot to talk about its heritage.

But what is more significant of the city, is the fact that the city survives, with all its hustle bustle with an hour long traffic jams at various places, the city does not sleep. Be it the bumpy roads, illegal constructions or encroachments, which have become a norm in Delhi, of the test of patience that each car driver in the city faces, the city still moves. In the walled city, the narrow alleys which lead to the narrowest path, where you might think twice to step on a usual day, gives us an insight as to how these are still the living fabric of the city.

With all these, the city boasts of a vibrant culture of theatre, art and music, which is imcomparable with any other city. So have you tasted a slice of Delhi as yet?

The Cultural Hub that is Delhi!

India’s capital which has been reflecting the diversity of the nation and a range of cultural tradition since times immemorial, has been a show window to the whole country for a long time.

It is said, that the best way to experience Delhi, with its years of legacy is through the eyes of a passionate Delhiite, someone who offers you a perspective beyond the hustled lifestyle of the city, to explore the city’s soul. The landscape of Delhi is dotted with ample heritage buildings and structures which are intriguing enough to arouse curiosity even the busiest person urging him/her to step out from their tightly packed schedules and explore these places. You just need to pan at the right places.

‘Delhi Walks’ was conceptualized keeping the local cultural perspective in mind, the fact that the ‘right places’ or the heritage scattered all over Delhi’s nook and corners, waiting to be explore and discovered on foot by some passionate people about the city’s heritage and diverse history. By curating earthly experience to connect travellers with the city’s colorful past, thus providing a context for the present development of the city. These experiences are curated keeping in mind the larger narrative of the cultural amalgamation that the city boasts of.

You name a cultural experience, and the city has the experience right from the heart of the locals, residing there. While you are in North Delhi, you will experience how the medieval culture as well as the British monuments and the bloody remains of the first war of independence, coupled with the trails and the struggle for space right after partition had resulted in a culture which is a mix of typical Punjabi with a tinge of Mughal etiquettes can be seen in present days. The overarching grandeur of British monuments that have stayed back as a legacy keeps reminding us of the British influence on us.

When you travel towards the central part of Delhi, the central arcaded roads, with planned roundabouts which are built in the lap of greenery and wide roads which make you feel the British Raj at its best, every time you see the monuments.

From Central Delhi, we move right towards South Delhi, which was the centre of first habitation by all the invaders and rulers who came and ruled over Delhi. South Delhi has a mix of cultures from the 7th century A.D to the medieval monuments and overarching ruins which reflect a lot about the transition that Delhi was going through in the medieval past.

The Abode of Djinns

Djinns are a part and parcel of Delhi life. They are the spirits tending to the faithful seeking help. On Thursdays, the Djinns are busy when thousands turn up with various concerned letters for them.
Imagine a newly built city, oddly 650 years back on a Friday, bustling with people, arriving from the main western gateway with bastions on either side. Right from there, they would enter one of the two smaller gates into the palace interiors, with the exotic Tas-i-Ghariyal playing in the background to announce the time of the day. From the smaller gates, meandering through the garden of grapes, to Ashokan Pillar on left and the imposing Jami Masjid on the right, the new city used to be a favorite place for pleasure trips for people. With a variety of transport options available, the entrance of the citadels from the western side led to a waiting hall flanked by dual gates. Single storied guard rooms lined at the entrance interiors.
Welcome to the fort city of Feroz Shah Kotla, built by Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century which is between a famous cricket stadium and Delhi’s Ring Road. In the stonewalls of the city, believers of 21st century still stick their letters to the Djinns, light candles and diyas and the believers pray.
Every Thursday, people from various corners of Delhi come with their prayers and letters, with a belief that they would be heard and solved by the Djinns. I happened to meet a lady, a mother of five young children, who had come with photocopies of her letters.
The new city complex of 14th century, there were three palaces which were exotically named as The palace of grapes (Mahal-i-angur) for the Maliks and Amirs; Mahal-i-chajja-i-chobin for personal attendants and; Mahal-i-bar-I ‘amm or the palace of public court for the public. Now all these lie in ruins as they indistinguishable from any other ruins. The Jami Masjid had cloisters four in number, in a rectangle, is a small domed roofs which are supported on 260 stone columns which have 16 feet high, having a 25 feet high central octagonal dome, which contained the Emperors ordinances.
The circular Baoli was the king’s personal swimming pool which had considerable ornamentation. The water conveyed from two overhead water tanks were surmounted with chattris. With the ruins of Jama Masjid, the 42 feet and 7 inches high pale pinkish tapering Ashokan Pillar, and the Sultans most ambitious construction project, it is a sight to watch and retell the story with the same vigour.

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