In the 17th century, the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, made his capital in the area that broadly covers present-day Old Delhi—he called it Shahjahanabad. Today, it is one of the city’s most crowded, chaotic. and captivating areas, with a bamboozling orchestra of sights, smells, and sounds. This walk takes you through the rambunctious bazaars and historic shrines around Old Delhi’s main strip, Chandni Chowk.
Starting at the eastern (Red Fort) end of Chandni Chowk, visit the 16th-century (1) Digambara Jain Temple. The focal devotional room (first floor) has images and statues of revered Jain figures such as Lord Mahavira and Lord Parasnath. There’s a bird hospital on the temple compound (donations appreciated).
Next door is the Hindu (2) Gauri Shankar Temple built in honor of Lord Shiva. It has a lingam (auspicious phallic symbol) believed to be around 800 years old, as well as statues of Shiva, Parvati (Shiva’s wife), and their sons, Ganesh and Kartik. The marble chair is that of the Hindu saint, Bhagat Swaroup Bramachari, who spent over 50 years at this temple.
Continue walking west until you come to the renowned (3) Jalebiwala, a century-old sweet shop on the corner of Chandni Chowk and Dariba Kalan Road. Pause to fuel up on delicious sticky jalebis (deep-fried syrupy “squiggles”).
Do a spot of shopping at the (4) bazaar along Dariba Kalan Road, which has a focus on jewelry—mainly silver, but also some gold and costume jewelry.
At the spot where Dariba Kalan Road gently curves to the left, turn right into the lane popularly known as (5) Kinari Bazaar (ask locals to point you in the right direction). This bubbly bazaar specializes in wedding paraphernalia, such as glittering tinsel decorations and ornate bridal accessories.
Keep walking until you come to the (6) Svetambara Jain Temple, a slight diversion left, near the junction of Naughara Gali (lane). It houses sacred images and carvings including that of Lord Parasnath.
Turn left back on the Kinari Bazaar lane and follow your nose to (7) Paratha Wali Gali, a lane veering to the right, devoted to little eateries specializing in parathas (Indian-style flat bread). The aloo (potato) paratha is a traditional favorite, but for something a little different try the paratha stuffed with crushed almonds.
Paratha Wali Gali leads back to Chandni Chowk, where you should turn right and walk until you reach the (8) Sunheri Masjid, an 18th-century mosque (not to be confused with the mosque of the same name in the Red Fort precinct).
Not far away (also on Chandni Chowk) is the (9) Sisganj Gurdwara, a Sikh temple built at the place where, in 1675, the Mughals killed Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru. Finish your tour listening to soul-soothing kirtan (Sikh devotional singing) performed here throughout the day.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.