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A Ramzan walk down the bylanes of Old Delhi

Monday August 29, 2011 12:46:28 PM, Annie Samson, PTI

Starting off at dusk from the Jama Masjid, where they witness a sea of faithful breaking their Roza fast the walkers are taken along the bustling zig-zag alleyways up to a walled courtyard housing the tomb of Raziya Sultana, the only woman ruler of Delhi.

The grandeur of history in the long winding lanes of Old Delhi have always been a must see for tourists. There is, however, an added charm during the month of Ramzan.


A walk in the narrow lanes during Ramzan organised by a Delhi-based NGO has received enthusiastic response.


"Raunak-i-Ramzan" organised by Itihaas takes visitors on a trip across the walled city giving them a peep into how it prepares itself for the Ramadan festival, interspersed with forgotten nuggets of history.


"One of our USPs is destinations off the highway. We have been taking small groups of people through guided tours across Delhi. The walk through Chandini Chowk especially during the Ramzan period has been very popular," says Smita Vats, Founder-Director, Itihaas.


Starting off at dusk from the Jama Masjid, where they witness a sea of faithful breaking their Roza fast the walkers are taken along the bustling zig-zag alleyways up to a walled courtyard housing the tomb of Raziya Sultana, the only woman ruler of Delhi.


Newer constructions and ancient havelis jostle cheek in jowl along the path lined with shops selling breads, sweetmeats etc.


"Life changes at every corner here. Once street may have goats and cats while the next street hosts cattle and dogs. Every step is an adventure here," says Vats.


Walking through the lanes that lead through Chitli Qabar the unmarked graves of Raziya Sultana and another said to be her sister Shazia's lie inside the monument near the entrance of Turkman's Gate that have been converted into a mosque.


"In the 13th century the site of the tomb was a neglected jungle as Razia was buried far away from the city. Nobody is sure who killed the queen whether it was her nobles or perhaps bandits. Nobody wanted her memory to survive," says one of the caretaker of the monument that is labelled by the ASI.


"The houses in the area were built with 'lakori' bricks a mix of material from Lahore and Lucknow. These are quite dense and have survived the test of time. So often you can find buildings with dense bricks on the lower part of the building and on top there is newer construction," says a guide.


Next on the walk is Kalan Masjid, a 14th century mosque built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, in Ferozabad, the city built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and about a kilometre from the Turkman Gate.


"The mosque on the hilltop was built away from the main cities Mehrauli as well as Jahanpanah and Firoz shah Kotla. Maybe the dargah of popular saint Shah Turkman was nearby and the mosque was built in respect to him," points out Vats.


The 30 domes that cover the mosque is quite spectacular.


"Earlier there were only four to five families around the mosque but today there are many hundreds of families who come to offer prayers here," says the young son of the caretaker.


Traversing the lanes of Meena Bazaar and Chitli Qabar the walk ends at Turkman Gate with a delicious Ramzan feast by Abdul Ghani whose ancestors catered to the Mughal rulers.


"I usually add a lot of red chilly to my food. It is a secret handed down by my forefathers who served the emperors. I was told that Emperor Shah Jahan had started the practice of adding chilly to mitigate the effect of the hard water," says Ghani.


"Even though I have been numerous times to Jama Masjid and the Red Fort and had street food and shopped for wedding here, this walk showed me places which I had no idea existed here," says an elderly woman who participated in the walk.








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