Busy, bustling Old Delhi is a powerful place – if nothing else, the sheer amount of sights, sounds, and smells in this historic walled city can be both thrilling and overwhelming. Spending a day (or more) in Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi’s proper moniker) is an experience you’ll never forget. While there are worlds to explore here, these sites will get your started on an unforgettable Old Delhi adventure.
Remarkable Realm of Red
The Red Fort’s red sandstone walls form a focal point for the Old City. Built in 1648 as the fortified palace of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when he decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi, the Red Fort is a sprawling expanse of architecture that one could easily wander for half a day. You can tell that this is a product of the same mind that brought the Taj Mahal to life; the Red Fort speaks of a time of culture and poetry through its red sandstone and white marble structures. Pass through Chatta Chowk, a bustling souvenir bazaar, to enter the complex and travel back to another time. Be prepared to stand in awe.
Wonderful Ways of Worship
The Old City is home to a plethora of places of worship for the spiritually oriented (or simply curious) to explore. Directly across from the Red Fort sits the fascinating Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, a prominent Jain temple humming with devotion. Jainism places high importance on the sanctity of all life, a value exemplified here in the form of an in-temple bird hospital. Also worth a stop is the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, marking the spot where the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded by Shah Jahan’s fundamentalist son. It’s a welcoming place and an eye-opening experience for anyone unfamiliar with the beauty of Sikh culture and tradition, well worth learning about if only for its inspiring sense of honor, integrity, devotion and generosity. Finally, you can’t miss the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque.
Whether you’re out to shop or simply marvel, Old Delhi’s markets are a can’t-miss. Feast your senses at Khari Baoli, said to be Asia’s largest spice market. See what gorgeous shiny things catch your eye on “jeweler’s lane,” Dariba Kalan. You’ll find exquisite stationary goods at Nai Sarak, and souvenirs and iconography of all sorts at Chawri Bazaar. Wherever you decide to explore, the sights and smells are sure to be as exciting as the shopping – just be sure to watch your bag as you browse and haggle hard if you do decide to buy.