Want to time travel? Visit Haveli Dharampura


If you have ever read Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway tree” series, you would remember how a different land used to come on top of the tree every time the trio of lead characters visited the tree top..and they would have fun, be mesmerised with the magic and then come back to their own land. How cool would it be if you knew some place where if you open the door you enter a different world, you partake, you enjoy and then you go back to your own world. Well now there IS one such place. Let me introduce you to Haveli dharampura.

Set in the bylanes of chandni chowk, ensconced in gali guliyan, where the lanes are so narrow, you can only walk – lies an old world land. As you enter the haveli’s heavy set doors you step into a different world. The world of squalor, grime and zillion electric cables tied in to precarious knots is left behind on the outside. What you face is a glimpse of the way nobles and courtiers used to live in Delhi, not so long back. The architecture is a pleasing and unique mix of Hindu, Mughal and colonial influences. You first encounter a verandah with a fountain in the centre, as is typical of many Indian havelis.. a central courtyard with a garden or fountain which used to cool the entire house built around it. The three storeyed haveli can be seen fully from here and well.. from all floors as well. Beyond the varandah is the Baithak or drawing room which now hosts the restaurant – Lakhori. Named after the bricks that the haveli is built with, it serves a cuisine with Mughal and Jain influences.. The same which evolved into the Chandni chowk food that everyone rushes to grab a bite of every now and then.

The entrance to Goel Sahab ki Haveli! The Verandah with the fountainA picture of the dilapidated look the Haveli bore before resurrection A seating room next to the restaurant

The day I visited this old world gem, I met Vidyun Goel the hostess and was treated to a sumptuous collection of dishes from an elaborate menu. Here are some of them. In ascending order of appearance these are – cucumber chaat canapes, palak patta chaat, murg ke paarche, golgappe, galouti kabab, kadak roomali masala, dahi bhalla, Berry’s delight, aloo gobhi mattar deconstructed, kadai chicken (served in a roti), mutton korma, paneer parantha with kashiphal kee sabji, makhane kee kheer, mango kulfi and paan kulfi both wrapped in a chocolate shell .. There was so much more to nibble at that somewhere I quite forgot to take pics and just immersed myself in the gastronomic experience.

Food at Lakhori














The three storeys of the haveli above the ground floor, have 13 fully furnished rooms – the 14th was converted into a spa. These rooms are divided into Jharokha Rooms, Diwan E Khas Rooms, and Shahjahan Suites. If I am not wrong they are named after various gates of Delhi – the old city. The rooms have the vintage old world feel but are fully equipped with all modern amenities and most importantly, well, modern bathrooms :). As dear readers may note, one may live in this land for a while before retreating to one’s own world. But it wasn’t always like that. Built around 1887 AD, the haveli rooms were divided and subdivided by their owners into nearly 64 rooms! The restoration that took about 8 years, 45 lakhs, 50 specialised masons and labourers was a slow and painful journey with no precedent. Finally we see it restored to its old world glory and the ambience quickly takes us back to an era we haven’t actually ever seen. The credit of all this goes to heritage lover & MP Mr. Vijay Goel, his son Siddhant Goel & their entire family. I hope that other havelis in that area follow suit and somehow manage to do the same because the government is also offering them restoration assistance funds.

Glimpse of the rooms

Apparently the previous owners had a dream that there was a safe in the basement under the ground.. they dug up that precise spot and lo and behold! There indeed WAS a safe under the ground! They claim that it was empty but then who knows what *really* happened when this tijori was opened 🙂 . I wish my dreams told me about buried treasures!

Underground Tijori!

Here’s a look at the views from the top floor .. you can see all the floors from every floor. Makes me miss the old world architecture where you could see all the family members and talk across floors. You can also see Jama masjid from the terrace. There’s another rooftop restaurant at the terrace called the “baradari”. The terrace has a new piece of architecture built into it borrowed from the Rajasthan havelis. The panorama shows the view from the absolute top with Vidyun also in the picture.

View of all the floors from the top floor Jama Masjid viewed from the haveli  The rooftop restaurant Some rajasthani architecture

View from the roof of the haveli & Vidyun in the panorama


Apart from being a heritage hotel the Dharampura haveli also has a lot of exciting things for its guests. It houses a tiny art gallery with images from the olden times of Chandni chowk. It will perhaps showcase exhibitions of modern artists too. Apart from this they also have a tiny library section with a cosy seating area next to it. They have a shisha room as well and of course there’s the spa. And did I mention that they also have an elevator? It sure is much needed.

Art Gallery & library seating


The magic of the old world would not be complete without the kathak performances that have been started now. They are organised every Friday, Saturday, Sunday along with a fixed dinner menu. Unfortunately I haven’t witnessed any, but can only imagine how breathtaking it would look. There are other activities for the guests, like Kabootar baazi (pigeon flying) and patangbaazi (Kite flying).

Pigeon flying - a popular sport in chandni chowk

A view of the balcony at the haveli and the narrow lane and a different world it looks upon.

Balcony at the haveli Narrow lane and a different world outside

 Here’s a glimpse of the “Now an Then” provided by the folks at Haveli Dharampura

Now and then - provided by Haveli Dharampura

Now and then – provided by Haveli Dharampura

There are just a handful of heritage hotels in Delhi but all of them are from the colonial era from what I know. Haveli Dharampura has, by far the oldest heritage in Delhi! Being in the heart of THE delhi, it has a unique advantage for travellers, who want to explore Delhi and don’t want to be located very far from the centre of attraction. These walls have seen lot of centuries, exchanged hands with a lot of owners and under all that plaster and paint lies the soul of a haveli that lives on and has been witness to many stories. You must go and have a conversation with it some evening.


Contact info:

2293, Gali Guliyan, Dharampura, Delhi-6

Tel.: 011-23261000, 011-23263000




Had a Kneecap dislocation & now need MPFL surgery 9


It’s been a while since I’ve seriously blogged any personal stuff here or even blogged at all, for that matter. I’d been planning to get back to blogging since quite a while now (does anyone even read these blog updates anymore?) … but twitter always stood in the way of expressing myself in long form. Or even reading long form for that matter. I digress.

To cut a long story short, I’ve had a kneecap dislocation (patellar dislocation) & it turns out that one of my ligaments (MPFL) is now torn to such an extent that it needs reconstruction through an invasive surgery 🙁 The post op rehabilitation time is 3 months to say the least to get back to normal movement. It takes longer to get back to an active lifestyle. And I’ve already spent 24 days in a brace (Immobiliser) following the kneecap dislocation. So I’ve been planning all these mini-projects to do in this bedridden state. One of which is, not just getting back to blogging, but also blogging through this entire experience as a coping mechanism & also as an education to anyone else who needs to know the medical details of such an episode (there really isn’t much in terms of personal experience online). Other mini-projects include knitting a muffler (nothing to do with the fact that I support Kejru), editing a hell of a lot of photography stock that I’ve accumulated over the years, purging faltu data from all gadgets, formatting/upgrading all software on existing devices and may be learning how to code ios/android apps. I might even get back to some of my favourite activities as a child – decoupage, papier mache etc. Let’s see how it goes.

Now the long version of what exactly happened.

2014 has been a pathetic year in many ways & just when I was getting ready to bid it adieu, it gave me the worst blow of the year – or later as it turned out, perhaps much more. So on 31st Dec, I got ready, packed some stuff, set out from gurgaon for my parents’ place in Delhi. During the entire drive I felt some discomfort about something not being right. But I attributed it more to the car. Reached home, parked car in garage and then proceeded to take out the stuff from the backseat. My laptop was nearby but the main bag was far off towards the other end. The backseat part of the car was on an incline and my right foot was I think between incline and flat. I made one lunge to get to the bag.. and suddenly my right knee snapped and i was SHOCKED beyond belief. I screamed inadvertently in pain and also realised that my kneecap had dislocated like it had once earlier, 20 yrs back. At least this time I knew what was happening to me, but then it wasn’t relocating back at all unlike the last time when I was a teenager. This time the pain was excruciating cos the knee joint just wasn’t snapping back. Then in about a minute it managed to snap back and I slowly gained cognisance of what had happened & the world seemed to be crashing in front of me. I sat down in that very backseat and called my parents, who were two floors above, oblivious to what all had suddenly happened. And then another dislocation happened just when i was trying to straighten my knee! Each time the pain was excruciating and the knee joint just wouldn’t come back instantly either! Then it happened a 3rd time too! The conclusion now, was to somehow shift the car back out of the garage, shift myself completely into the backseat and go to a hospital like that. With great difficulty, I managed to drag myself in to the backseat and finally my parents & I, left for the hospital… and on the way another fucking dislocation happened AGAIN!!! The fact that it just wasn’t stopping was most disconcerting! And i worried about how much damage each dislocation was causing!
Once we got to the hospital, an immobiliser was tied to my right leg (which I still have on, 24 days later) and I was prescribed medicines to bring down the inflammation around the knee joint & address the pain. An X-ray was done but it was just basic & X-rays don’t show ligament injuries. At that point my knee joint was also too sore for it to be inspected physically and chances were that more dislocations would have happened if an attempt was made. So after this whole immobiliser, wheelchair, stretcher, xray, wheelchair session, we left for home. I was told to visit again after a few days when my knee joint had “quietened down”. Now the next hurdle – my parents live on the 2nd floor. I’d asked the doctor the procedure to climb stairs in this condition and with great difficulty managed 2 flights of stairs of our ancient ancestral house. Everyone had missed lunch due to this medical emergency and now we finally got home to take stock of the situation & what was left of our new year’s eve. I finally broke down & had a crying, hugging session. The shock of the whole thing was just too much. I was just going about my day as usual and suddenly I couldn’t even walk anymore, was bedridden and was looking at, at least 2-3 months of rehabilitation time. The unfairness of it all was just hitting me. The fact that it happened while doing something I’d done infinite number of times was very disconcerting. (More on what makes it happen, later). I knew that my extra flexible joints (I can twist both my thumbs outwards and touch them back to the wrist) made me vulnerable to this. In fact I’ve already had a kneecap dislocation 20 yrs back.. but that was a walk in the park compared to what had happened this time. Ultimately I tried to make myself believe that may be something worse had been averted and I got this “gifted” instead, but at that point I could barely reconcile myself to the situation.
Next up – after a week, MRI and digital x-rays were done. By this time I had reconciled to the situation and since I’d already dealt with a kneecap dislocation earlier, I knew the challenges. Back then the medical advice I had got was hardly anything. 20 yrs later, things had obviously advanced much more. Now there were ice packs, immobilisers, physiotherapy sessions, the internet as a huge resource and what not. As a teenager, I was just given a crepe bandage and sent off. It took around 6-9 months to get back to normal back then, but once it was ok, I forgot all about it. I thought this time the recuperation would be faster because I was equipped better. But when we showed the test results to the doctor – the first thing he said was, this would have to be cut open and operated. There is damage to the patella (kneecap) and the MPFL (the ligament towards the inner side of the knee) is torn and would need reconstructive surgery. Blood drained from our faces. There was shock once more. None of us could believe that the situation was THIS bad. We decided to take another opinion. Then another. And another. This includes a govt hospital, a sports injury doctor and a different hospital. They all say the same thing unfortunately. So here I am, gearing up for surgery now.
I’ll be writing in more detail about how these things happen, challenges & what to do in rehabilitation. But first a tiny note to all gyaanis, free advice givers, self appointed experts & well intentioned but ill informed wellwishers – kneecap dislocations have nothing to do with weight. Any surgery in the knee is not the same as “knee replacement”. Anything to do with a joint is not about weight. Yoga though an extremely beneficial regimen, can not cure everything.
As I wrote earlier, I’ll be updating my blog much more frequently and hope to hear from blogger fraands as well as people who have been through something similar.


2008 roundup – part une 9


I am back with a long awaited attempt at getting back to the “Drid Nishchaya” of being regular at the blog (though I am sufficiently active on the photoblog, the microblog and to some extent the Delhi Bloggers‘ Blog). Here’s a roundup of the salient features of the 2008 chapter of my life, most of which was intended to appear on this blog but did not turn up for various reasons.

The year 2008 started on quite a bad note. Right after the 12am gong struck 1st Jan 2008, and I was holidaying at Sonapani, I discovered a “virtual” can of worms in my online social circle and had to perform the virtual equivalent of chemotherapy on a virtual entity I had started. All that done, it was surely a relief. I was very glad and also pleasantly surprised to see the support this ‘act’ garnered for me. It was one of the times where one could clearly differentiate between friends and foes, commitment and shallow words, sincerity and selfish, plain greed. On the whole though it was unpleasant, it was also a great learning. Human nature has many a fascinating avenue to explore and observe. And realise.

On 13th Jan 2008, the Delhi Bloggers group celebrated its 4th anniversary in Blues, CP. We all had great fun. It was a simple fun affair. For a change we had no agenda, sponsors or planning. Just a night with online friends who have been together since 4 years and liked to be together.  The common thread tying them – Delhi & blogging.

In late february last year, 23rd Feb to be precise, we bade farewell to our dearest doggie, as he left for the doggie heaven above, after giving us a glorious 17 years & 2 months of his affectionate company. I had planned to write about it on the blog to express the pain and I even put some other posts on hold because of that. But I never could. The loss of a pet may not be understood by those who have never owned one. But believe me, it’s like the loss of any family member or rather that of a child. 17 is teenage in human years and abt a 120 in doggie years. My sister and I have spent the bigger part of our lives in his company than without it, so it’s a loss that is unforgettable for life alright. The pain of the separation apart, it was a most unfortunate time we had, while looking for a decent burial spot (crematoriums have been stopped by the govt). It would have been better if we had thought out the horrendous details earlier, even though painful. I continue to miss him every single moment that I breathe. God bless him for the unconditional love he gave us.

In early March, I organised Delhi’s first tweetup (Twitter meet) along with @mojosanjay. It was great fun and we had a huge attendance even though organised in a jiffy. There were out station members as well and I even shot a video of most members. Got to still work on that to share it :P. It was a meet in a cafe, we explained twitter to those who didnt know it and also explained some mashups to those who did.

In late March, I “aged” another year. The least said the better :).

In April, we helped organise Blogathon India and had a partner meet in Delhi for that. This meet was sponsored by Alootechie. It was a nice cosy affair at “The Attic” in CP – a place to fall in love with. The participation in blogathon was good and had a great potential if done regularly. The sponsorship was based on verbal commitment. It was just 4K to cover the rent & snacks charges. However, getting a reimbursement of that money probably cost me at least 1/4th the amount in just persuing them for it and took 5 months of continuous pressure. A harassing experience, but I made sure I at least got my money back. I am told (via other bloggers) that this isn’t a one off thing, it’s a consistent one with this organisation.

In April again, Dinesh Khanna (who I co-administer “Delhi Photographers” with) drew my attention to the fact that my picture was there all over in Canon’s brochures in every camera box! Well, it still is. And unfortunately there’s not much I can do about it. It had been clicked by photographer friend Sanjay when he & I were trying out our brand new Canon 400D’s and the various features of our new “toys”. This pic as it turned out, suited a particular contest of Canon very well. We discussed the pros/cons of participation & Sanjay decided to send it in hoping to win the first prize – a cool camera lense (which we were quite sure of winning given the quality of the picture demonstrating every aspect of a camera). Later he got a notification that his pic would be used for some Canon related stuff. No news about the competition. Till date. In return he got nothing but a silly camera manual. The modified picture that is there in every Canon Camera’s box now, is so botched up that it literally looks mutilated. The worst treatment to subject someone’s creation to. The contest fine print allows them to publish the picture, however the whole episode reeks of unethical practices on Canon’s part. If the picture was that good that it can go out as part of a brochure of every single Canon EOS series camera now (and has been so since past 1 year plus), then it definitely deserved first prize. What better certification was required than the very fact that Canon decided to save on agency costs & used a picture clicked by a Canon user! However we never heard anything from Canon till date. Bad Canon.

Soon in May, I got an article published in Hindustan Times. It was on blogging and the community of Delhi Bloggers that exists – their meets, the events, the fervour. Felt great :). I have had many interviews (print/visual/audio) taken earlier, but in terms of writing something (not creative work that incidentally got published too) specifically for publishing in a leading publication, this was a first.

In late May, I left my organisation of 8.5 years to join another for the kind of role I wanted. It was a moment I expected to be “impacting” me in a very large way. Surprisingly it didn’t. Not quite. A smooth transition emotionally I guess is due to the disillusionment of many years. It was a long journey with many nuggets worth sharing here. I got a short break of 3 weeks in between both jobs. I tried to get a longer one but the IT industry is just not kind to people who want to take a sabbatical.

Just after I left my prev orgn, 104.8 Meow FM interviewed me in their studio. I had a great time with Ginnie Mahajan who was the host of the show – Tu Tu Meow Meow. It was supposed to be a live chat show where callers call and asked me questions about blogging and then there were random songs that played as well. During the songs part I got to know Ginnie and during the chat part, the callers got to know me. There were some rather hilarious moments where I just could NOT control my laughter while we were live and Ginnie had a lot of fun at my expense in a LIVE show! My family, extended family, some friends & ex-colleagues were all tuned in. Couple of bloggers who knew me called in and some others called me after the show because they had happened to hear me on air! All in all it was a great experience. I had been interviewed by BBC radio in Apr 2006, but a live show in a studio is a different ball game altogether. I had asked a friend to record the show on my mp3 player so I have some sort of a recording but it has a lot of noise in various places. Unfortunately when Meow FM sent me a much needed recording of my show it turned out to be someone elses. Probably someone, somewhere else is laughing off at the chat show that we all are supposed to laugh at! I am yet to edit the recording I have and share it for your hilarious listening pleasure.

On June 7th, I happened to organise India’s first social media camp. Note – there may have been many blogcamps earlier, but there were no camps at all which catered to social media or the various commercial uses of it or social media marketing. I realised this when I tried planning for this particular camp. I could not find any precedent for any sort of guideline. Eventually I shortlisted some areas where social media is used in todays Web2.0 world and tried to invite speakers from that very domain to talk about how they used social media. In the end we had speakers from the Print media, Travel industry, Corporate blogging arena, Social media marketing, a leading newschannel, developers who create social networks, a humour blogger talking abt his social media experience, a blogger presenting a debatable topic – “protecting” social media, a session on our evergreen twitter, social media in the mobile network and a lawyer talking on the much needed legal aspect of social media and of course monetisation. It was a very interesting affair. Our prime sponsor was Indiatimes and we were also assisted by IBM, WordPress and Tyroo. The event was very well appreciated. We got great feedback and accolades. It could not have been possible without Sanjay and Garima. The perfect team to work with. Thanks Guys!

On 16th June, I joined my new organisation, with a new role – the kind that I wanted for long but could not get in the ex-orgn. Later, within 6 months I would get an award at excellence in work and I would wonder why I did not leave my ex-organisation earlier.

I’ll follow up the next 6 months (part deux) in a separate post. Since it’s already been 6 months into 2009 too, perhaps those 6 months (part trois) in another post as well :\.


Exclusive! Delhi Bloggers Bloc Presents DBM#30: Meetup with Shashi Tharoor 1


Ahoy Bloggerati and Twitterati! Here’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

Meet Shashi Tharoor, one of the most charismatic leaders we have in the new parliament in an exclusive informal Meetup with Delhi Bloggers Bloc.

As you know, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, has been recently elected as the Congress Member of Parliament, from Thiruvanathapuram, and much like us bloggers & social media enthusiasts, is himself an activist and excellent writer (award-winning author of eleven books).  He has put in a lifetime of work in the United Nations and was India’s candidate to succeed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006, and finished a close second out of seven contenders. Dr. Tharoor was also  named a “Global Leader of Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. You can read more about him at his official website

One of his recent tweets (@shashitharoor on Twitter) will give you an idea of how he has also adapted well to the 140 character space of Twitter:

“First day in Parliament. From the sublime (the historic Central Hall for the Cong legislators meeting) to the bureacratic (8 forms to fill)!”
Introduction to the meet
A few words by Dr. Tharoor on his impressions of Twitter and Social Media.
Q&A with Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Congress Member of Parliament, Thiruvanathapuram.
And if time permits, informal discussion on use of social media and twitter by policy makers.
Date: Thursday, 21st April, 2008
Time: 6:00 pm to 7 pm.
Venue: The Attic, 36, Regal Building (first floor), Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.
Tel : 2374 6050, 5150 3436
Please note that this meet is contributory with 100/- as the contribution per person, which goes to contribute to venue charges and snacks. We have limited seats (60) at the venue, so participation will be on a first come first served basis ONLY. Please be on time. No gatecrashing. Timings are subject to slight variation on short notice subject to availability of Dr. Shashi Tharoor.

For any information contact:
Twilight Fairy at +919811511719
Sanjay Shrivastava at +919873707071
Follow @delhitweetup on Twitter for updates.
While you are at it, join our Facebook group or mailing list

The entrance to The Attic is on Parliament Street (Sansad Marg), on the left side, after Park Hotel. It is just above the erstwhile pub DV8 (now Sports Bar).

By Metro – get off at Rajiv Chowk ( Connaught Place ) station on Line 2 Central Secretariat to Vishwa Vidyalaya ( Delhi University )

Parking – In Palika Parking, Near Jantar Mantar or Hanuman mandir.


Gurgaon-Jaipur Women’s car rally on 21st! 12


Someone put a pamphlet about a Women’s car rally under the wiper of my car. I was quite amused since I did not see it on any of the other cars parked near by! 🙂 It sounds like quite a fun opportunity. Since this event has practically no web presence, I thought I would promote it on my own blog. So here goes!

“Any vehicle which has 4 wheels, an engine, a steering wheel and a lady behind it, can participate in the rally”

This event is being organised by an NGO called Uthaan in partnership with Ibis, Power Grid, Indian Oil, Radio Mirchi, Desert trails, Avenues travel services etc. The flag off is from Ibis Hotel, Gurgaon.

DATE of Event : 21st March 2009

Uthaan is conducting the IIIrd Women’s Car rally which is an annual National Event hosted in Gurgaon 3rd year in succession. They hold this event each year with a Social Theme to create awareness in Social segments through participation & involvement . They have got support of Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil , Rajasthan Tourism, India Today group, NDTV, Radio Mirchi, Dainik Jagran, Times Of India & Hindustan Times & Limca Book of Records.


They have earlier created a record by Holding the women Car rally. It is listed in the LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS as

( Page 476 Limca Book Of Records 2007 )

This year this event is being organized in a much bigger way from Gurgaon to Jaipur ( To create another NATIONAL RECORD ). Another FIRST in this Rally is that they’re encouraging participants to bring their Pets too.

In case you are interested you can register as an individual for 4000/- (all inclusive) [and for 6K as a corporate] for this rally. It is a fun rally, not meant to be a race. The Boarding, lodging & food for all participants will be arranged by the Organizers. The List of Number of Prizes will be given at the time of Registration. It will be a Time, Speed & Distance rally with point deduction on OVER SPEEDING. The maximum speed allowed is 75Kmph. Violation of Traffic Rules will be penalized by point deduction. A separate navigation chart with full rules will be given to participants after registration. Different events during the rally will be held & informed about beforehand to all participants. There will be a prize distribution event on 21st evening at Desert trails, Jaipur. Participants will be given lodging & breakfast at either Desert Trails or Hotel Amer View. You can get your family also along with you. They can pay directly to the hotels. You can register a navigator along with you. The navigator can be a man or a woman. However in case of a tie, the preference would be given to an all women team.

The proceeds from this event will go to an Animal rescue centre on NH-8. All interested people may contact the following:

Sanjay Kaushik
102, Sector 46