Everybody knows Delhi's political importance, for it has been the capital of India for over half a millennium. But not everybody appreciates its importance as a cultural capital - always at the helm of advancements in music, workmanship, literature and architecture.
The most spectacular phase in the life of the city came undoubtedly after Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal King, built his city of Shahjahanabad here, in the 17th century. It became the most mesmerizing place ever seen, with cacophonous markets, bustling temples and mosques, food fit for a king and always a good wrestling match to be seen.
Now Shahjahanabad has metamorphosed into Old Delhi, a place that everyone knows, yet only few know well. It is easy to get lost here, which might just be the best thing to happen. Rambling through its narrow lanes is the best way to acquaint oneself with the hustle and bustle of this walled city.
This book is an invitation to ramble and take in the sights, smells and sounds of Old Delhi, because unlike most other historical cities, this one is hale and hearty in the present as well. Traditions from a hundred or more years ago, have survived into the new millennium. The ardent admirers of this city would not allow it to be otherwise.
Scattered through the book are the memories of residents of the city who have spent all their lives, into old age, here; who tell you about lighting a thousand lamps on Diwali, or drinking wine in a Tonga. And to leave a lingering taste of the city in your mouth, there is a special section on some traditional recipes so that you can re-create the richness of Old Delhi's living traditions right in your home.