No visit to Delhi would be deemed complete without a visit to Shahjahanabad, popularly referred to as ‘Old Delhi’ after the creation of Lutyens’ ‘New Delhi.’ But it is an overwhelming place. A sensory overload. After all, what do you expect from 400 years of continued habitation and history packed into 6.1 sq. kilometres.
This pocket of land has seen it all. The zenith of Mughal rule. India’s First War of Independence. The sure and steady takeover of Delhi by the British, culminating in India’s independence in 1947.
It has been razed to the ground and bathed in blood three times over the course of time. Yet, it has bounced back on its feet. Livelier. It has seen executions in the name of religion, and yet, coexistence continues to exist within its walls. Devoid of any ‘city planning,’ apart from the Fort area, Chandni Chowk, and Jama Masjid, it has grown organically over the centuries with bundles of overhead electric wires and unpaved paths put up, as and when needed, to meet infrastructure needs. Yet, there are heritage treasures in its midst which are some of the most stunning in the country.
This chaotic wonderland, which defies all rules, had its foundation stone laid on 19 April, 1639 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. For nine years, thereafter, construction took place under imperial orders, and in 1648 it was declared ready for use as the new Mughal capital. Continue reading