Delhi has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BC. The remains of seven major cities have been discovered below ground.

In Old Delhi’s medieval labyrinth of tiny lanes, stand crumbling 17th-century havelis (Mughal mansions). These once grand havelis still bear the richness and grandeur of a long-lost indigenous architectural technique and the gracious lifestyle it once upheld. Most were once proud residences of the rich and famous.

Today they lie in crumbling neglect. Ornate facades defaced with rusted signs and sprouting satellite dishes. Balustrades broken. Beautiful latticed balconies choked lifeless by a forest of cables.

Yet, despite the stranglehold that modernity impresses on Old Delhi’s city aboveground, life thrives on the streets below. Much as it has for centuries.

Hawkers shout out colourful descriptions of their many wares. Men, women, animals and vehicles jostle for space. A heady aroma of incense and spices cloak the air. Mid-day call to prayers blare out from loudspeakers somewhere high above the narrow streets, muffled by a canopy of cables.

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