The blare of honking cars and auto rickshaws has fallen silent; the ugly mesh of overhanging wires has disappeared underground; and red sandstone benches beckon me to sit down and soak in the view of the old buildings that line Chandni Chowk—arguably Delhi’s most historic market.
I ignore the row of rickshaws vying for my attention and duck into the newly-made central verge dotted with patches of greenery. It has taken three years to restore the heart and soul of the main thoroughfare that runs 1.4 kilometres from Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir to Fatehpuri Masjid. For the first time, I have a clear view of the sky (thankfully blue) and the majestic Red Fort as I step into the commercial heart of the city, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan nearly 400 years ago.
Road tiles and a row of bollards are fitted with red sandstone to keep in harmony with the 17th-century monument. Motorised vehicles have been banned from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., allowing pedestrians to stroll down a wide central verge. Come night, black poles with hanging lamps on either side light up the stretch.
Read the full feature in the print edition of National Geographic Traveller India January-February 2022.
Pallavi Pasricha is a New Delhi-based travel and food writer, who loves to discover the quaint and unexpected in oft-visited destinations. When not travelling, she can be found planning her next trip or digging into a hearty meal at a new restaurant in the city.
Abhishek Hajela is the recipient of the prestigious International Nikon Award. He curates and leads experiential photography workshops globally, and also works closely with the semi-nomadic tribes of Rajasthan.