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DELHI: Built in 1887, Haveli Dharampura has been transformed by Vidyun Goel from a Mughal-style haveli into a luxury heritage hotel decked out with two suites and several rooms, central courtyard and alfresco speciality restaurant Lakhori, jharokas and windows with stained glass art, and a marbled terrace overlooking Jama Masjid, Red Fort and Sisganj Gurudwara with Purani Dilli spread out as the backdrop. Heritage furniture with plush upholstery is juxtaposed with modern amenities like a shower with therapeutic bath products and powerful air conditioners that battle the heat, making it an ideal heritage holiday destination.


Checking into the hotel after seeking blessings at Sisganj gurudwara in Chandni Chowk and indulging in two bottles of Alphonso mango milkshake at Keventers, it was a pleasure to chill in the alfresco restaurant with welcome drink Kanji, followed by Cucumber Canapés, Palak Patta Chaat and my favourite — Dahi Puri accompanied by shot glasses of saunth and jaljeera! Delish!! At 2 p.m. I set out to discover Purani Dilli — the moment I walked out of the hotel on to the road facing Jama Masjid Gate 3, I walked for a few minutes, and wham, I was Alice falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. Hey, one needs eyes in the back of the head! Making your way down the roads and labyrinthine by-lanes requires a degree in chaos management to navigate rickshaws, pedestrians, cows, horse-drawn carts and bicycles to reach the tiny food stalls situated precariously astride crumbling buildings, tangled wiring and broken paths. While feasting on mango sandwiches and chaat, rickshaws and animals darted out at me from all sides, even on the pavements, and it's vital to be alert to jump to one side at the blast of a cycle horn or the 'woof' of a dog! Tourists are everyplace and transistors compete with snake charmers playing the flute with a cobra entwined around the neck! Whoa! Soaking in the ambience,  I walked back towards Jama Masjid to seek blessings. Simultaneously congregational and personal, I experienced something similar to all devotees while intensely private… the mosque speaks to each person differently and the experience of praying there is transformative.


Back at the luxury hotel, I showered and changed, and after uploading several photographs of the amazing afternoon, opened the suite door to the sound of ghazals and payal! The night came alive with kathak dancers performing in the verandah right opposite my suite. Mesmerised, I took in the mystical dance with glee, and then headed down to join friends for dinner at the specialty restaurant. We were in for a treat!! Dinner began with melt-in-the-mouth Tandoori Mutton Burrah and Laal Mirchi Murgh Seekh. both were tender, all lean and no fat. For mains, we ordered Haveli Special Mutton Korma — mutton braised in flavourful brown onion and yoghurt gravy — accompanied by garlic butter naan. All of this, washed down with chilled beer. Yep, I was in culinary heaven!


In retrospect, there's a reason why Haveli Dharampura is on the luxury tourist trail. It's an oasis of luxury in Purani Dilli — walking distance from Jama Masjid, Red Fort, temples and marketplaces teeming with bridal finery- jewellery- silverware- just about anything you can think of!! I felt like a princess in the Shah Jahan suite with its living room, bedroom, wooden furniture and spacious washroom… so is it a wonder I extended my stay by a day?!


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Haveli DharamPura, 2293 Bazar Gulian Road, Gali Guliyan, Dharampura, Old Delhi.

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