IT starts early morning at the Jama Masjid. Stocked with refreshments and bottled water, you arrive at the World Heritage monument, perched on a cycle rickshaw fit for royalty. This recently launched heritage rickshaw tour of the Walled City takes you to popular spots, and ends on another royal note — a curated feast of Old Delhi specials.
The conducted tour also involves a bit of walking. After visiting India’s largest mosque, there’s a 10-minute halt at Asia’s largest spice market, Khari Baoli. Once you take in the strong aromas, and the morning hustle of workers loading consignments onto hand-drawn carts, you can stop by and indulge in some special spice mixes (for biryani, butter chicken or Punjabi chhole) and flavoured teas (rose tea and mango tea, to name a few).
You return to the comfy rickshaw and plug in the earphones, because visitors are armed with walkie-talkies to hear the tour guide’s live commentary in English and also coordinate with him in case you want to stop somewhere. The next stop is the red marble building of the Shree Digambar Lal Mandir, followed by a visit to Gurdwara Sis Ganj
located next to the temple. In the gurudwara, you get a peep inside the community kitchen, where thousands of chapatis are churned out every hour on a state-of-the-art chapati-making machine.
Soul satisfied, you head for some sensory pleasures. By this time, you have seen several stalls offering the world famous sweet delicacy, daulat ki chaat, and are craving a few bites. But your guide will recommend that you don’t stop for food since it may not be hygienic, and you should save your appetite for the fare at the end of the trip. But can anyone resist daulat ki chaat while rambling through Chandni Chowk for three hours?
Meanwhile, business begins to swell through the jewellery market of Dariba Kalan and Kinari Bazar. A surprise stop during the tour is an exclusive visit inside the centuries-old Jain Svetambar Temple, part of a family’s property. Even though photography is not allowed inside, its gold-plated ceilings, richly decorated walls and serenity remain etched in one’s mind for a long time.
The tour comes full circle, from where it started — the 200-year-old Dharampura Haveli. Here, you are served a lavish brunch of Old Delhi’s famous foods including aloo tikki, bhalla-papri, palak pakora and yes, daulat ki chaat. Now you know why it would have been wise to skip it on the chaotic streets. Or maybe not.