Regal Respite: Discovering Royal Retreats in Delhi


Delhi has been an epitome of India’s past and present and has displayed a tremendous capability to absorb a wide range of cultures that have infiltrated it over centuries. It has many facets – a true mirror of India’s life through time. While it is known as the cradle of the new republic of India, it is also a grave of many empires and kingdoms. There was an ancient legend that said that ‘he who rules Delhi, rules India’. Hence, there have been many kings and emperors who have ruled over this city and left an indelible mark on the city’s history. While I was never a huge fan of history, watching ‘Game of Thrones’ changed the way I look at the past. Suddenly, I was interested in kingdoms and empires and the politics that ensued in my homeland. I had this sudden desire to walk through old palaces and forts and try to relive the moments left behind by great emperors. Being in Chandigarh, the first place I thought about visiting was Delhi.

I work in a small accounting firm as a Chartered Accountant. Last year, I got an opportunity to have an extended visit to Delhi as the office was undergoing major repairs and the firm decided to shut operations for two weeks. Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, I went online and booked a reliable and comfortable Chandigarh to Delhi taxi. I was headed to Old Delhi – the hub of palaces, mansions, and havelis of the years gone by.

I remember reaching Purani Delhi at around 10 in the morning and was greeted with traffic, noise, congestion, and a lot of chaos. As the name suggests, Old Delhi is in fact, OLD. The shops and streets look ancient like time had stopped a few years ago. I already had an itinerary – a list of places that I wanted to visit.

I started my tour by visiting the Zeenat Mahal in the back lanes of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. It looks like a dilapidated structure but the ruins are an indication of the ornate structure it once was. Moving on, my next stop was Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli in Gali Qasim Jan in Balli Maran in Old Delhi. It was the home of the famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib and still reeks of his decadence. During my two-week tour, I visited various other places like Chunnamal Ki Haveli, Haksar Haveli, Begum Samru’s Haveli, Zafar Mahal, and Jahaz Mahal. While it was an amazing trip, it missed something. I realized that I was unaware of the history of the city and the stories that formed its culture.

This year, as the pandemic spread and the lockdown restricted me home with nothing much to do, I decided to take the opportunity and study about the history of royalties in Delhi. Well-equipped with knowledge, as soon as the lockdowns are lifted, I plan to visit Delhi again and treat myself to the amazing architectural marvels that the city has to offer.

I also plan to take a convenient cab from Chandigarh to Delhi Airport with an experienced driver to visit the stunning monuments enroute and then travel to other places of historic interest such as Agra, Lucknow and Jaipur from Delhi.

One thing is certain – I am never turning back on the roots of my country again, on places and events that have shaped modern society. While most people felt stressed during the lockdown having nothing to do, I found myself a new passion – history; and I hope to explore it as the country returns to normalcy.

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