Must-See: 5 Historic Places In Old Delhi That Define The Walled City


Delhi’s rich heritage has often been an attraction for historians. Although the city’s landscape is changing at a rapid pace, its old quarters still have their original buildings, dating back at least a hundred years.

With its typical galis, kuche and darwaze, Old Delhi has several larger-than-life structures. It is in this walled city that several havelis have existed through the ages and saw Delhi pass from the Mughal empire to the resurrection after the partition.

Standing outside of them and guarding them through thick and thin are the old sturdy gates and gates of Old Delhi, which have a history as old as its exteriors and interiors.

Some have woodcarvings while others have religious engravings and there are still others who have a lot of stories to tell. Although most of the havelis and their gates were dismantled during various phases of reconstruction, these gates that exist today provide a glimpse into the glorious past of our city tradition.

“There are a lot of havelis in Old Delhi that are privately owned and not registered in most government-maintained lists,” says Priya, program consultant, Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) , Delhi Chapter. She adds: “We used to put up signs on the havelis, but they quickly disappeared. There is no record of the age of these havelis doors.

Even some history buffs in the city insist on the urgency of documenting the existence of these gates. “There is a lot of speculation about the exact year these havelis gates were built. There is very little recorded history of them, ”says Prianka Sihota, co-founder of The Delhi Way.

With few recordings available on these havelis, we try to chat with locals or neighbors, to learn more about the history of these doors.

1. Haveli by Sanjay Kuwatra

Haveli from Sanjay Kuwatra to Tehra Behram Khan. (Prabhas Roy / HT Photo)

Located in Tehra Behram Khan near the Golcha Cinema, Sanjay Kuwatra’s haveli is in ruins but the gate, about 150 years old, stands in front. Kuwatra says: “It was in 1947 when my grandfather bought this haveli for only
4,400 rupees. It was really beautiful back then, but apart from the door, nothing ever stays near its original shape now.

2. Religious sculptures

Carvings on the door jamb depicting Lord Krishna. (Prabhas Roy / HT Photo)

Another gate, just 100 meters from the Kuwatra haveli, is an attraction. Although the door has been replaced with a new one, the carvings on the wall around it and the door jamb were not affected. Depicting Lord Ganesha and Lord Krishna with his cow, this is one of the most intricate works that can be spotted. “The reconstruction work on this haveli has started. We have already demolished the upper floor and don’t know when it was built, but our owner says it is around 200 years old, ”says Feroz, keeper of the haveli.

3. Khazanchi ki Haveli

The popular Khazanchi ki Haveli, near Dariba Kalan, Old Delhi. (Prabhas Roy / Ht Photo)

The popular Khazanchi ki Haveli, near Dariba Kalan, is currently in ruins. Its gate is still in good condition. With intricate and beautiful carvings, the work around the pillars is eye-catching. Sanjeev Kumar Sharma, a haveli resident, says: “This haveli is 400 years old and we are surprised by the quality of the wood it has. Not even once have I seen termites affect the wood used in the door and it is so heavy that we need two people to open or close it.

4. Next to Khazanchi ki Haveli

A gate right next to Khazanchi ki Haveli is as old as the haveli contains many shops. Asked about it, one of the traders said: “This gate was built with Khazanchi ki Haveli and it is as old as the haveli. The sculptures feature incredibly impressive architectural designs and colors. “

Haveli near Dariba Kalan is among the oldest. (Prabhas Roy / HT Photo)

5. Gate near Dariba Kalan

This haveli near Dariba Kalan belongs to an old woman. Although the owner has not disclosed details, a local Mukesh Sharma said, “This haveli is one of the oldest in Chandni Chowk. It is the architecture hardly as an equal in the close vicinity. One glance at the photo and his statement is beyond doubt!

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Patrick F. Williams

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