Delhi: 14 Historic Walks
It is tough to believe that the Capital is a city meant for leisure walking. You can spend a day in Lutyens’ Delhi, walking past white colonial-era bungalows lined with trees. You can also walk around the hilly slopes and monuments of the Mehrauli Archaeological complex. Then there are professionally conducted nature walks in parks and gardens. But if you are a true Delhiite, you should trudge through the alleys of Old Delhi.
Delhi: 14 Historic Walks is perhaps the first guide that focuses on exploring the monuments of the city through walking routes. Written by Swapna Liddle, who has been leading walks for years, the guidebook has double-page maps, lovely black and white photos and smart tips. Liddle has a PhD on 19th-century Delhi, an accomplishment that might frighten a lay reader. Fortunately, she explains the monuments that fall in each of the 14 walks crisply.
Some trails in the book, such as the ones through Hauz Khas, Lodhi Garden and Old Delhi, are well-known, if not well-explored. Some go through tourist traps like Humayun’s Tomb complex, Red Fort and Purana Qila. A few are paths less travelled, like the trails through Kashmiri Gate, Mehrauli Village and Khirki Village.
Liddle writes, “The selection criteria for each route… was first and foremost that there should be enough to see. There should be an interesting story behind the buildings and a background history of the area....I have also tried to include only those buildings that are easily accessible to the public.”
Delhi—14 Historic Walks: Westland, 291 pages, Rs 495.
The walks are arranged in an order that takes you from the city’s oldest area to its newest. If you begin at No. 1 (Qutub Minar complex) and walk—each weekend—by the list, ending dutifully at No. 14 (Central Vista), you might get a linear understanding of the Capital’s unfolding history.
Each walk begins with a page about the nearest Metro station, amenities and, most helpfully, difficulty levels. In Shahjahanabad, for instance, “The walk goes through the narrow lanes of the old city, which can be quite crowded particularly after 10am, when the shops open.”
The book is spiced with highlighted quotes from famous travellers (Ziauddin Barani), tyrants (Timur), and scholars (R.C. Dutt) swooning over various aspects of Delhi. Too big to fit into your bag, the book is handy enough for a walk.
Mayank Austen Soofi