Away from the cacophony of the chaotic Kinari Bazaar and a few metres ahead from the Jalebi Wala is a quiet lane called the Naughara. On a Friday morning, the silence of Naughara is a revelation for the troop of 10 who have come for a ‘heritage walk’. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), in collaboration with a group called Delhi Walks, has initiated ‘heritage walks’ every weekend, which began with a test run on Friday. The first walk — titled ‘An Empire’s Tale through the Blooming Red’ — was held on Friday. The initiative comes two months after the DMRC launched the Heritage Line.
It started with an hour-long ‘Sair-o-Shahjahanabad’, conducted by members of Delhi Walks. The walk commenced with registration at the Chandni Chowk Metro station. From there began the journey on foot through Fountain Chowk, Sisganj Gurdwara, Dariba Kalan, Kinari Bazaar, Nai Sarak and finally Town Hall.
“The aim is to see the city through the lens of heritage, to seep in the chaos, sounds, smells and tastes of the city,” said Nidhi Bansal, co-founder of Delhi Walks. Eight such walks have already been planned at a cost of Rs 500 from Heritage Line Metro stations — Jama Masjid, Delhi Gate, Red Fort, as well as other stations like Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazaar .
From the loot of Dariba Kalan by ruler Nadir Shah to a dip in sales due to demonetisation, the Delhi Walk conductor — a doctorate in history — managed to weave together the past and the present. A pit-stop at the famous Jalebi Wala — one of the oldest shops in the area — is a respite from the heat. The fried sweet fritters are called jaleba, not jalebi, informs the walk leader.
From there, the group moves to Naughara, occupied primarily by the Jain community living in old structures, which mirror the homes in Rajasthan. A walk past Kinari Bazaar is a testimony to how much the nature of trade has changed, with online payments and card machines at every corner.
After traversing through Nai Sadak, the group faces the palatial Town Hall built by the Britishers. “They wanted to leave their imprint. It was earlier called Begum Sarai after Begum Jahanara, emperor Shahjahan’s daughter,” says Bansal, as she guides the group towards a food shop for a much-needed meal.