Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Karol Bagh, Sadar Bazaar are the four most crowded and famous markets of Delhi. But one of these is out of place in this group. If you ask a delhiite which one is it, he would tick Paharganj. And if you ask a foreigner, who has been to Delhi, he too would do the same. Indeed, Paharganj has a peculiar characteristic about it which makes it very different and unique. A seedy underbelly section of New Delhi, located just opposite to the New Delhi Railway Station, Paharganj has seen a constant cavalcade of life in various stages of evolution.

Once, a suburb of the Walled City of Delhi, Paharganj finds a special mention in the mutiny papers of 1857, when it was also known by the name of Jaisinghpura and Shahganj. Muin-ud-Din Hussain Khan, a cousin of Mirza Ghalib was the Thanedar or the Head Police Officer of the Paharganj police station during that time and is supposed to have helped in saving Theophilus Metcalfe’s life during the uprising, by sheltering him in Paharganj. That was the period when the Mughal dynasty in India was on the decline and the British empire was strengthening it’s foothold in the country. In 1920, when Lutyen was assigned to build New Delhi, Paharganj saw a facelift of sorts. Imperial Theatre, an archaic landmark in the vicinity of Paharganj, was built in 1930.

Paharganj saw the bloodiest Hindu-Muslim riots during the partition of India in 1947 – a metamorphosis for Paharganj – with one community forced to desert it’s roots and flee to Pakistan and the other fled from Pakistan to make a new beginning here. The refugees from Pakistan (mostly Punjabis) were allotted shops in Paharganj. With the dire need of making a fresh start many took up the business of eatery and soon became famous for their products. Some of the famous names established since 1947-48 in the business of eatery are still doing brisk business even when the third generation has taken over. ‘Pehalwan da Hotel‘ (earlier known as (Pehalwan da Dhaba) and ‘Sitaram Diwan Chand’ (popularly known as Sitaram Bhaturewala) are the two names in particular which almost every Delhiite is aware of.

Paharganj saw another sea change in the early 70s, when ‘hippieism’ took over the world by storm. The convenience of being in proximity to the New Delhi Railway Station and it’s accessibility to Cannaught Place, Paharganj became famous with the foreigners who travelled on a shoe string budget. Many dingy and small time hotels mushroomed in Paharganj to cater to the bohemian lifestyle of these foreigners. And as a
complement to the theory of ‘demand and supply’ several shopkeepers changed over to the business of tour operators, travel agents and PCOs with STD and ISD facilities. Keeping pace with the changing times, now internet cafes have also come up in abundance. Paharganj is the only market in the city of Delhi, where the internet cafes are open 24 hours. A number of hotels like Hotel Namaskar, Major’s Den, Hotels Vivek and Vishal have found a mention of credence in the prestigious ‘Lonely Planet‘; and so have some eating joints. One of the most sought after eating joints is the German Bakery, Khosla Cafe and Sam’s Cafe.

With the influx of foreign tourists, the vices connected with the tourism industry inevitably crept in with this changeover. But a stern and constant vigil by the police has always kept them under check.

Presently, Paharganj is a picture depicting a ‘mini-world’. Tourists of different nationalities mingle conveniently with each other. Language does not seem to be a barrier here. Foreigners express their demands and requirements in broken Hindi from the phrases they have crammed from various tourist guides and studied them intensively over a short period of time just before reaching India. The illiterate hotel boy conveniently and convincingly talks in broken English and at times even in French, German, Spanish (!!!) that he has picked up during his acquaintance with various tourists.

The traffic scene on the road of the main bazaar of Paharganj presents a scene of a whole and undivided integrity of all sorts of modes of transport. Bullock carts compete with the latest models of Honda Citys and Opel Astras, sharing the road with cyclists and jaywalkers – making no fuss about it.

Now, an interesting piece of information which is sure to raise everyone’s eyebrows ! In 1982, JFK Jr. the son of John F Kennedy, former President of USA, stayed in Paharganj in a run down dingy hotel called Shivalik Lodge. He had to write a paper on the functioning of Indian democracy, while studying at Brown University for his graduation. He kept his identity discreet to avoid to gain an advantage of his status. So much so that even the owner and staff of the lodge didn’t know who he was. Now, isn’t that interesting ?

By admin | February 18, 2008 - 3:33 am - Posted in Uncategorized

Spread in an area of around 20 acres in the village of Said-ul-Jab on the Mehrauli-Badarpur road near Lado Sarai, The Garden of Five Senses was developed by Delhi Tourism with a theme to stimulate the five senses – touch, smell, hear, sight and taste.

Well planned and nicely landscaped with rocks and pools of water, The Garden of Five Senses grows a variety of Indian and exotic flowers and vegetables for the purpose of exhibition and sale. It also has a food court with a variety of snacks for the visitors.


By admin | February 16, 2008 - 10:48 am - Posted in delhi, delhi tourism, gardens

How truly said, “when Winter is here, can Spring be far!”

After freezing Delhi for a fortnight at it’s fag end, the winter is finally leaving and it’s Spring time! The blossoming colourful flowers are running riot in the gardens of Delhi. Delhi Tourism welcomed the Season in style at the Garden of Five Senses. Flower show, painting competition, camel rides, puppet shows and musical programmes were the highlights of the three-day garden festival organised by the Delhi Tourism

By admin | February 12, 2008 - 5:36 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Delhi Gate or Dilli Darwaza, as it was known when it was constructed during the period 1650, was the southern entrance to the city of Shahjahanabad. As the name of the gates of the walled city were given to them in accordance with the direction of the other cities they opened to, Delhi Gate got it’s name as it opened towards the direction of the earlier cities of Delhi.


By admin | - 4:04 pm - Posted in cinema hall, daryaganj, delhi, golcha

Opened in 1954,Golcha cinema hall in Daryaganj is one of the oldest cinema halls of Delhi.


By admin | - 3:19 am - Posted in books, daryaganj, delhi

Sunday Book Bazaar at Daryaganj, Delhi, is a veritable gold mine! If you love a good read and enjoy good bargains, then this is the place.

Daryaganj, which is a major commercial hub of Old Delhi, bustles with shoppers from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday (closed day for the market) the residents of the area wake up to a different bustle. Early in the day, the pavements are occupied by booksellers who sell second hand books. Each one has a designated area on the western stretch from Delhi Gate to Golcha cinema hall. With more and more sellers joining the trade with time, the corridors of Asaf Ali Road are also occupied now.

The books sold in this bazaar are mostly second hand. However, that does nothing to the quality of the reading material available. You have everything; from fiction to medical sciences; architecture to cookery books; comics to atlases ; classics to computers; magazines to management books, and hobbies – you name it and this place has it! It is hard to classify the books here in a specific order but a patient search will certainly yield in what you are looking for. Remember, he who dives deep finds the pearls ! But even if you tell the seller what you are looking for, he responds with a heartening promptness. Some seasoned seller in this business will also tell you the name of the author in case you have forgotten and produce the book. If it is not with him, he can get it for you the next Sunday or have it delivered it to you.

Now, the best part ! If bargaining is your favourite sport, then the Sunday Book Bazaar is the playground. Remain poker faced if you have found some book of interest. Expect the selling price to be somewhere near the mint edition but let that not deter you. Start your offer (unabashedly) with one-eighth of what has been quoted, haggle a bit and ultimately you will win.

Some tips: Carry a bag with you to pack the books that you will purchase, carry a water bottle as the walking around in the sun can make you really thirsty.

By admin | February 9, 2008 - 11:16 am - Posted in Uncategorized

Buddha Jayanti Park or Buddha Garden as it is locally called in Delhi, was founded to commemorate the 2500 th year of Gautam Buddha’s Nirvana (attainment). The park is special because a sapling of the Bodhi Tree was brought from Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and was transplanted here. Though the 2500th year of Buddha’s attainment took place in 1953, it was only in 1964 that the sapling from Srilanka was brought by the then Srilankan Prime Minister, Smt. Srimavo Bandarnaike . In the 3rd century B.C, a sapling of the original Bodhi Tree at Bodhgaya, under which Buddha had attained Nirvana, was carried by Emperor Ashoka’s daughter, Sanghmita to Anuradhapur in Sri Lanka. The Park covers a major portion of the dense forest of the Southern Ridge and is landscaped with well manicured sprawling lawns, streams, sloping terrain and mammoth trees. The picture perfect appearance of the garden makes it an ideal spot for picnics. The garden is known to be more popular among the young couples who can be seen getting cozy under some tree.


By admin | February 8, 2008 - 6:35 pm - Posted in hindi films
How many Hindi films would be there which have ‘Delhi’ (or Dilli) in their names ? Well, four names come spontaneously to my mind (1) Ab Dilli Door Nahin, (2) Dilli ka Thag, (3) New Delhi Times, and (4) Delhi Heights. Then, there are two in the pipeline, Dilli 6 – to be directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, and Delhi Belly. Amir Khan may (or may not) star in the latter.

How many Hindi films have been shot in Delhi ? Well, plenty ! Be it the demand of the story line or just a song sequence, film makers have often flirted with Delhi. Lodhi Gardens and the Buddha Jayanti Park were the farourite locations for the directors of 60s and 70s to shoot a song sequence or two for their films. Director Yash Chopra had a special fascination for Delhi and that showed in his films. Some part of most of his films’ story had Delhi as the backdrop.

The earliest film in the genre of Delhi being the part of the films, that comes to my mind is, Navketan’s ‘Tere Ghar ke Samne’. Directed by Vijay Anand, the film had the complete story line based in Delhi. A complete song, with Dev Anand romancing Nutan and singing, ‘Dil ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar…..’, was shot inside the Qutub Minar (those who have missed on being inside the Qutub Minar can avail from this song!). Another one from the same banner and the director, was ‘Nau Do Gyarah’. The film’s story begins in Delhi and then moves on to Bombay in hero Dev Anand’s truck while he sings ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyaa Ke, Humse Kuchh Na Boliye. Then there was Nasir Hussain’s, ‘Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon’ which had some part of the film shot in the locales of Delhi and another, Shashi Kapoor Babita starrer, ‘Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati’ which had a couple of songs and scenes that were shot in Delhi.

In the early 70s – which also was the period of the beginning of the ‘off beat cinema’ in the bollywood – Basu Chatterji made Rajanigandha – the debut hindi film of Amol Palekar and Vidya Sinha. The first half of the film was extensively shot in Delhi.

Sai Paranjpe (my favourite director after Vijay Anand) who made her debut as a director in hindi films in the early 80s with ‘the cult film’, “Chashme Baddoor’, chose to shoot the whole film in Delhi.

Talking of cult, and hindi films shot in Delhi, ‘Rang De Basanti’ is one film, of late, that had Delhi in it’s entire story line and was extensively shot in the locales of Delhi.

Dil Se, Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai, Chini Kum, Dus Kahaniyan, Fana, Dil Dosti Etc, Khosla ka Ghosla and Sunday are few more films that come to my mind. Not to forget the mention of Meera Nair’s, ‘Monsoon Wedding’ !

By admin | February 5, 2008 - 12:39 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

The British, who occupied India, moved the capital city from Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) to Delhi in 1912. They wanted to build a new capital city so a new city was constructed adjacent to Delhi. The new city was completed in 1931 and came to be known as New Delhi. The original Delhi became Old Delhi.

Delhi lies within the Yamuna sub basin of the Ganga sytem – which itself is a part of the greater Ganga Brahmaputra Mega basin. The river Yamuna rises in the Himalaya at Yamunotri . It receives many tributaries before it debouches into the plains near Tajewala. It then travels generally along the UP – Haryana border before it reaches Delhi. Thereafter, the river runs again through UP and joins the Ganga at Allahabad.

Delhi has flat land, however there is a big depression in the southwest known as the Najafgarh jheel area, which receives the drainage from the adjoining states of Haryana and Rajasthan. The only outlet for these waters is the Yamuna.

Physically, the natural territory of Delhi can be divided into three segments – the Yamuna flood plain, the Ridge and the Plain. The Yamuna flood plain is somewhat low-lying and sandy and is subject to recurrent floods. This area is also called Khadar.

The ridge constitutes the most dominating physiographic features of this territory. It originates from the Aravali hills of Rajasthan and enters Delhi from the south extending in a north- eastern direction. Tughlaquabad fort is located on one of the highest spurs of the ridge.

Leaving aside the Yamuna flood plain (khadar) and the ridge, the entire area of the territory of Delhi is categorized as Bangar or the Plain, which is very fertile.

Everlasting refers to something that will continue to exist once it is created, while eternal implies that it has always existed and will continue to exist in the future.

The various dynasties that ruled Delhi might not have been everlasting but the eternal flowing Yamnua has been a witness to the rise and fall of these dynasties.

History has recorded different rulers/dynasties, who ruled Delhi in the past centuries, chiefly created seven principal cities that is what the whole of Delhi is as of now. Many of these are no more than villages today with splendid ruins and tales of evolution of architectural styles of the times and the synthesis of various cultures and influences. The present day skyline has now assimilated the majestic and the imperial past of these ruins.

The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya period (300 BC). Since then the site has seen continuous settlements. They are, Qila Rai Pithora, Mehrauli, Siri, Tughlakabad, Firozabad, Shergarh, Shahjehanabad.

Luteyn’s Delhi or the New Delhi can be termed as the Eighth Delhi as it was created during the British rule and who were the last rulers before India was declared a Sovereign Republic.


By admin | February 2, 2008 - 4:12 am - Posted in surajkund craft's mela

Aaheli is the name of the Bengali food stall at the 22nd Surajkund Crafts’ Mela. Keeping in tandem with this year’s theme of West Bengal, the contract has been assigned to ‘Aaheli’ a restaurant in the Calcutta (oops!…… Kolkata) based hotel – The Peerless Inn.

The organiser of the stall, Mr. Bhaskar Roy gave a description of the food items they had prepared on the 1st Day of the Surajkund Mela. They had ‘Chanar Cutlet’ or the paneer cutlet; ‘Mochar Chop’ – Chops made of banana spadix (the red conical flower which blossoms at the tip of the banana bunch); ‘Beguni’ – slices of egg plant (brinjal) dipped in the batter of besan and fried deep enough to bring out the succulence of the egg plant slice, accompanied with freshly ground mustard sauce – the freshness of the mustard was so evident that it’s ‘hit’ went through the nostrils till the back of the neck ; ‘Sutir Kachuri’ – maida puris stuffed with mashed green peas served with ‘Chholar Dal – Narial Diye ( begal gram Dal garnished with grated coconut). The Chana Dal had just been cooked enough to retain it’s fullness and bring out the aroma of the Dal. And in the ‘sweets’, it was……….. (no prizes for guessing !) ….yes !…..yess…..!! ……yessss !!! The indomitable…….. “Shondesh”!!!!

This was the menu on the 1st day of the Mela. ‘Aheli’ will keep changing the dishes every day and there will be more from the Bengali cuisine for the visitors.

A ‘must visit’ while you are at the Surajkund Craft’s Mela !