“Once there was nothing here. Now look how minarets camouflage the sunset. Do you hear the call to prayer? It leaves me unwinding scrolls of legend, till I reach the first brick they brought here. How the
Prayers rose, brick by brick?” said Agha Shahid Ali once, admiring his birthplace Delhi.
Delhi, with its many names, has had a colourful past which can be rediscovered with Delhi by Cycle - Haveli tour in Old Delhi. It was ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in Indian history. Though it’s not the oldest part of Delhi, the 17th century city of Shahjahanabad, built for the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, is known as Old Delhi. In all of Delhi’s history, the first half of 17th century was the most beautiful, during the Golden age of Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan had an almost insatiable passion for building. The huge fortress palace complex called Red Fort and the finest mosque in India - Jama Masjid were built by Shah Jahan. The greater part of Old Delhi is still confined within the space of Shah Jahan’s walls, and several gates built during his rule, the Kashmiri Gate, the Delhi Gate, the Turkman Gate, and the Ajmeri Gate that still stands.
The first massacre took place in the wake of an unexpected invasion of India in 1739 by the Persian ruler Nadir Shah. At Karnal in Punjab the newly-crowned Shah defeated the Mughal army and advanced rapidly to Delhi. British took over in 1803 and under the British rule the city flourished, except during the Indian Mutiny in 1857, when the mutineers seized the city for several months, after which British power was restored and Mughal rule ended.
Delhi had been burned and destroyed by many invaders time and time again, century after century , still the city was rebuilt; each time it rose like a phoenix from the fire. Just as the Hindus believe that a body will be reincarnated over and over again until it becomes perfect, so it seemed Delhi was destined to appear in a new incarnation century after century.
Start your tour at 6:30 AM. You will be picked up from Delite Cinema to begin your Delhi by Cycle Haveli tour in Old Delhi. Your first stop will be the Turkman Gate. Turkman Gate lies on the southern Edge of Old Delhi. Most of the ancient city walls were pulled down 20 years ago. The gate still stands alone in a traffic island like a great beached whale washed up on the edge of the city. Capture the moment as the sun rises, a bicycle rickshaw jolting out of labyrinth of the Old City and trundling underneath the gate. Your next stop will be Jama Masjid, the finest mosque in India. Jama Masjid being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan is the largest mosque in India, with a courtyard capable of holding up to 25000 devotees. Continue riding to Chandni Chowk - once the grandest and the most vibrant and crowded markets in India. It was built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahan Ara.
Your next stop will be Red Fort which was constructed in 1648 by Shah Jahan. The Red Fort is to Delhi what the Colosseum is to Rome or the Acropolis to Athens. It represents the climax of more than 600 years of experimentation in palace building by Indo-Islamic architects and by far the most magnificent monument the Mughals left behind. Admire the majestic view from the end of the Chandni Chowk. On the way to famous markets of Chandni Chowk, visit Lajpat Rai market and Sadar Bazaar via Old Delhi Station. Your next stop will be Ballimaran, the residence of the 19th century Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. What Shakespeare is to the English language, Mirza Ghalib is to Urdu. It offers an insight into Mirza Ghalib’s lifestyle and architecture of the Mughal Era. Stop at the famous Karim’s restaurant to relish a hot and scrumptious breakfast. After a lavish breakfast leave for Delite Cinema where your historical tour will conclude.
Duration: 3.5 hours
Region: Haveli, Old Delhi
Landmarks Covered: Delite Cinema, Turkman Gate, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Viewpoint (Red Fort), Lajpat Rai Market, Old Delhi Railway Station, Sadar Bazaar, G.B. Road, Ballimaran, Karim’s Restaurant
Activity: Cycling, Sightseeing
Pick-up Time: 6:45 AM from Delite Cinema