A walk around the Haveli’s of Old Delhi

The beauty of the Old Havelis in Chandni Chowk lie in the crumbling state as they are in, today who have stood the test of time. Walking past the Old city of Shahjahanabad, the almost broken and haunted looking havelis have a certain magnet which has the power to attract you towards them. Take out some time, to admire the elaborate arcades, colossal doors, which take you back to a long by-gone era.


Situated in Chhota Bazaar, opposite old St.Stephen’s College building, Seth Ram Lal Khemka Haveli was once a place where wealth and power concentrated. It was built in 1850, the mansion has been a witness to the plunder during sepoy mutiny and the revolt of 1857. The present owners, Baglas, inherited the mansion in around 1905. The mansion is built using two types of brickworks from colonial era and the thinner ones, being the Lakhori bricks.

This 19th century mansion welcomes you with an open-air aourtyar with stairways leading towards the large rooms. The effort of the present family can be seen in keeping the old charm alive of the mansion.
How to get there: Ten minutes walk from Kashmere Gate metro station


A textile from the Mughal era, one of the wealthiest people in Delhi, Lala Chunnamal’s haveli was built in 1848. The positioning of the haveli, is interesting as it is situated in the Walled city of Shahjahanabad, the commercial hub of the city, but as you enter the quiet lanes, you forget the hustle and the chaos around you. Although a neglected haveli, it still sparks the erstwhile opulence and an unrestricted entrance welcome you whole heartedly. The mansion consists of 128 rooms which still consists of the chandeliers, antique wall hangings, family pictures on the wall with wooden chimneys. Currently, the 10th generation is staying as well as has the ownership of the mansion

How to get there: Five minutes walk from Chawri Bazaar metro station via Nai Sarak Marg


A mansion near the canal, as you walk through Daryaganj road, is a mansion which was owned by the forefathers of Pervez Musharraf,the ex-President of Pakistan. The mansion is said to be spread over 24,800 sq.ft the structure is dilapidated even though it was once a seat of muslim culture and traditions.
How to get there: Ten minutes walk from Chawri Bazaar


The traffic at Lal Kuan might let you walk past through the quaint place which was once a haveli of Begum zeenat Mahal, the favourite wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Towards the west of Hauz Qazi, the mansion dates back to 1846, when it was ordered by the empress herself. After her death, the Mahal was not taken care by anyone, till it was sold to the Indian Government by the Maharaja of Patiala. It stands in complete disarray and houses the famous school for Muslim girls, which happened with encroachments over the years.

How to get there: Ten minutes walk from Chawri Bazaar metro station via NaiSarakMarg


Bhagirath Palace, one of the biggest markets for electrical, was also a mansion for someone. While we still use the place for our shopping, much less is known about the mansion. The mansion was constructed in 1`8th century for a French mercenary Walter Reinhart. His wife’s name was Begum Samru. Pondering over the architecture you might see that it reflects quite a lot of both, the Greek and Roman architecture, with Corinthian columns.
How to get there: Ten minutes walk from Chandni Chowk metro station

The Guardians of the Slave dynasty fell apart: Lodhi Garden Walk

The 90 acre Lodhi Garden was initially called as Bagh-i-Jud, which suggests to us that it was a bagh even during the medieval times. But it houses the famous tombs of the Sayyids and the Lodhis, who happened to be the last of the slave dynasty, in the first part of 15th century. The garden which is now a sought after place for walks or yoga sessions, has a historical past to it.
The death of Firoz Shah Tughlaq brought with it hard times as till then, the dynasty was protected from invasions. With the onset of the Sayyid dynasty, who claimed to have an inheritance of Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima, had been in rule for approximately 37 years had been overthrown by Lodhis, who were Afghan descendants, the most loyal class who were loyal to the thrown and the responsibility which was bestowed on them.
A walk around the beautiful Lodhi Garden exposes us to the architectural intricacies of the Sayyids and the Lodhis, the only architectural contributions they had to make were the tomb structures which were as if to highlight the atmosphere of unrest, after the sudden fall of Sayyid dynasty.
The types of domes which are present in Lodhi garden can be categorized into two: octagonal colonnade tombs surrounded with a dome and square based tombs of two floors, where the window openings decorate the upper floor. The four corners of the square room is with squinches, which gives a 8 sided layout.
The BadaGumbad and the Masjid is termed as the finest gateway of the 15th century. They contain square tombs with turrets at the corners, the two levels giving a false impression of a double stories building is the most striking feature in BadaGumbad. One of the tallest structure in the complex, with the absence of grave inside the tomb suggests that it must have been a gateway to the mosque.
But the most striking architectural piece inside Lodhi Garden is the Sheesh Gumbad. It is a different feeling to see the blue tiles still on it. Originally, the gumbad was decorated with Persian glazed tiles of cobalt-blue and midnight-blue, which led to its name “Glass Dome”. It might be in a sad state, but it’s an architectural marvel left for us by the Lodhis, to admire.

The Story of the Cursed City!

The ruins of Tughlaqabad reflect a history of the ruined city. Abode of the first Tughlaq ruler Ghiyasuddin, who was perceived to be the agent of change from Khilji to the Tughlaqs was the agent of continuity for the Islam rule in delhi. The underlying tale of his change was kept alive by the prominent rulers, and the contemporaries who visited the court of Ghiyasuddin as historian like Barani and Afif had written about thecity as well as Amir Khusrau a poet and the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta. Above all, the greatest of the sufi saint of Delhi NizamuddinAuliya had a the biggest connection with the fort city right from its flourishing state to the state of ruin and further as being the cursed state.
While we walk through the whole place, the Tughlaq’s were busy erecting the massive fort city around the 14th century, the architects of this ingenious monument, devised a very unique way of perceiving architecture, which had not been experimented earlier. Crudely called as the defense architecture, it consisted of inward sloping double walled Cyclopean fort, which any other contemporary kingdom must have perceived it as tasteless architecture had one aim in mind: to sustain any Mongol invasion, who had paid bloody visits at the door steps of the seat of the power. The fortification highlights how Ghiyasiddin was living in troubled times.

The troubled times were much feared back then, so much so, that the tomb of Ghiyasuddin with its pentagonal fortified raised walls with five towers was a small fortress, including the four tiers of fire in the walls, a stepwell or baoli and a storage place inside the tomb suggests the self-sufficiency of this defense system. The tomb was conceptualized in an artificial lake to make it inaccessible to the enemy.
But one cannot come out of the fact that a Sufi saint’s eternal curse on the emperor and his city had been confined to ghosts.
The fort city is replete with baolis in all parts of the city, huge granaries suggest that the planners were interested in making the city self-sufficient in case of a long drawn scarcity of grains which were associated with seasonal fall in the market. It was rumored that the fort city had a gigantic place containing all the gold of the world.
Ghiyasuddin was obsessed with his new fort city which subsequently was his new capital as well. Trying to maintain his exclusivity, he wanted all his labourers to only work at the fort. The one’s working at NizamuddinAuliya’sKhanqah were even asked to abandon the work of the sufi saint. The workers with on choice left to them, started working at night in the Khanqah. When it reached the Sultan, he stopped the sale and use of oil so that they cannot continue their work. It is a belief amongst the people that NizamuddinAuliya asked his disciple HazratNaseeruddin to light the lamps of the workers with water. As the lamps were lit up miraculously, the step well was constructed in 7 days. Prophetically, NizamuddinAuliya had cursed the Sultan that his new city will either be deserted or occupied by herdmen, which is still the state of the fort city!
Even though the Tughlaqs have left, the ruins of the fort city makes us remember how a curse can desecrate the home of a Sultan, when in contrast Nizamuddin lives on!

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