Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks by Gaynor Barton & Laurraine Malone
I have always been a fan of Walking tours. Having done them in various places, it was time to explore Delhi by walking around. A friend recommended me to refer to this small book Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks. Written by two expat ladies who lived in Delhi and who went around exploring Old Delhi. They designed these 10 easy walks. Each of which can typically be done in 2-3 hours, which is an ideal time to take a walking tour. It must have taken a lot of effort to design these non-intersecting walks in this congested area crisscrossed by so many lanes and bylanes and still cover the maximum possible area.
The walks are roughly aligned on themes, based on what you see. But since Old Delhi is a living area, you would see a mix of many things on these walks. There are walks around the famous landmarks of the area like Red Fort and Jama Masjid, around the spiritual trail of Chandni Chowk covering multiple religions, two walks covering the era of British, others covering the bazaars and the gateways. Along with defining the walking path and explaining the major points of the walk, authors have tried to give basic practical information like how to reach, where to park and the best time to do the walk.
Sometimes, they have mentioned the stories associated with the place which makes the place more intriguing. They have used illustrations as well as photographs to make the book more interesting. The walks are easy to follow, with the very clear instruction given where the signs are not easy to follow. Sometimes too much of detail has been avoided. For those who would want more details, there are references at the back of the book. Interestingly they have also left some space for you to take notes as you walk along.
I think the book was written primarily with the intent to cater to foreigners visiting Delhi. And getting lost in Old Delhi as there are Hindi translations for common words and also the general precautions for walking around in India. I think this is an equally good book to walk around with for Indians who come to Delhi. On some of the walks, I was told by some hardcore Delhiwallahs that they have never known certain aspects of the city they had lived all their lives in. This book has inspired them to go out and know the city more.
I want to pay a tribute to this book because this book gave me a starting point and an initiation into walking around Delhi and discovering it on foot. Exploring a city by walking around, in my opinion, is the best way to know the city. From the first week of November till the first week of March I did about 20 walks around Delhi. On an average one walk, a week and 10 of those walks were based on this book. In each of the walks, I discovered many more things than the ones mentioned in the book. But that is how the characteristic of Old Delhi is, every time you go there you would see something new.
There is so much history that you need many visits to absorb the place. There are so many interesting points to stop and see, to shop around, to eat and to explore that it can be called a never-ending process. I am already able to think of a couple of more walks that can be added to the book. But I am happy I started this. And I added 10 more walks in other parts of Delhi. I hope to do some more in the next walking season which should begin again in October this year.
Thank you Gaynor and Laurraine for writing Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks!