The concept of Heritage walk which I have been participating in quite recently satisfies two interests of mine – Travel and History. History being something which I had left in school and thought not to pursue it any further for I found it very BORING, maybe due to the way it was disseminated! In Delhi, you’re never too far from a historic monument. A heritage walk is a great way to know more about them
This week walk was from Chawri Bazaar to Ballimaran and it began at 5:30 pm sharp. The group of 20 people was lead by Sohail Hashmi who is a writer, founding member of SAHMAT and ANHAD and a filmmaker.
We turn into the Sirkiwalan Road that leads towards Lal Kuan, the first things we talk about are the Hauz Qazi Police station and the Trams, both have ceased to exist anymore. Post that we walked past the famous Kheer shop where we enjoyed this delectable Kheer. The story of this Kheer selling shop is that its owner 3rd generation ago was Yadav converted Muslims and they owned many cows. The amount of milk produced set them off to start of Kheer [solely] business which is being carried out from generation to generations. I had a ½ kg packed for home since the kheer was to die for. Here onward we proceeded to the Masjid Mubarak Begum, built in the early part of the 20th century. Mubarak begum was a courtesan who later became very powerful and influential due to her marriage to a senior British officer. Continuing down Sirkiwalan we reach Excelsior Cinema, with a capacity of 450 and the most expensive seat around 20. The Excelsior, opening probably in 1938, is perhaps among the oldest surviving cinema halls in Delhi & this is the place where you can watch old and long-forgotten masala movies. Before it turned into a cinema hall the building and its then owners played their part in the rebellion of 1857.
A little ahead on the same side of the road is Hamdard, started by Hakeem Abdul Majeed, as a humble shop selling herbs for the Unani system of medicine in 1906 today it is the largest producer of Tibbi medicine in the world.
Opposite Hamdard sits bade miyan selling his seekh kabab, however he opens his shop after sunset and we turned up early and could not sample his delicacies.
We now turn into Gali qasim Jaan, the street where all the Hakeems lived as did Kalesaheb. Kalesaheb earned a living by dispensing talismans. Bahadur Shah Zafar and his queens were devotees of the peer.
Ghalib lived his last years in the same street, in one of the desolate Havelis owned by the Hakeem. What remains now where Ghalib stayed is very dilapidated structure which has been turned into a museum of personal artefacts and works of Ghalib. There is one funny story that was told to us by our guide Sohail Hashmi which goes like this: During the anti-British Rebellion in Delhi when Britishers were executing rebel Muslims, some soldiers climbed into Ghalib’s neighbourhood and hauled him and asked if he is Hindu or Muslim? To which Ghalib replied, “Half?” The colonel asked, “What does that mean?” In response, Ghalib said, “I drink wine, but I don’t eat pork.
We are now in Ballimaran the whole sale market for bangles, spectacles, sun glasses and shoes.
The opticals market here is one of the biggest in the city and is the perfect destination for your brand fixation. Our day ended with traditional Veg/NonVeg home delicacies served by a humble host. Over all the evening was laden with historical stories woven around each heritage structure and dream food.