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Delhi Walk Festival: A rendezvous with Delhi

With over 170 experiences to choose from, the Delhi Walk Festival allows you to rediscover the city

The Mehrauli Archaeological Park walk with historian and academician Sohail Hashmi from an earlier edition. Photo: Courtesy Delhi Walk Festival
The Mehrauli Archaeological Park walk with historian and academician Sohail Hashmi from an earlier edition. Photo: Courtesy Delhi Walk Festival

The Capital is alive, iridescent and ever-evolving. Its contours, landscape and soul have been sculpted by a compelling historical and cultural narrative that is centuries old. It’s what makes this city a breathing, thriving being. Many of its inhabitants, however, are unaware of its heritage, its multiple avatars, or the palette of experiences it offers.

The third edition of the 11-day Delhi Walk Festival, hosted by the Delhi, I Love You team, a sociocultural platform that aims to celebrate the spirit of the city, began on 2 November. It offers an intimate, affectionate view of the city through the lens of its expert insiders—historians, anthropologists, photographers, heritage enthusiasts, environmentalists, gastronomes—who chaperone, guide and inform locals and visitors about the city’s cultural anatomy. Author William Dalrymple, photographer and artist Samar Singh Jodha, and environmentalist Pradip Krishen are some of the walk leaders this year.

From learning about the tradition of meticulously hand-painted signage and scripts in the crowded arteries of Paharganj, to time-travelling to the 16th century by exploring the architectural remains of Sher Shah Suri’s fortress, Purana Qila—the festival leads you into the heart of the burgeoning metropolis. “We offer multiple ways of reading/understanding the city," says Aastha Chauhan, the festival director.

While the first two editions were held in collaboration with Delhi Dallying, an organization that curates walks in the city, this time the programme has been designed by Delhi-based researcher and photographer Abhinandita Mathur. Apart from a gamut of walks, the festival features handpicked experiences that celebrate the flâneuse. There are night walks in Mehrauli and Paharganj specifically for women, led by Pallavi, author of the blog Delhi Galiyara. “For women to negotiate roaming around in a city is not always easy. To be out and about just to loiter, explore places in the city or just walk around is something not usually ‘expected’ out of women," says Chauhan. “Yet there are many women who still do it. We want to celebrate that spirit of the awesome women of Delhi who enjoy being out, while encouraging others to do the same."

The festival also has walks that acknowledge the differently-abled. One of them is with Baldev Gulati, who is visually impaired. Attendees have to wander the streets and cross roads with Gulati, blindfolded, relying solely on their sense of sound, smell and touch. It’s an attempt to simulate the overwhelming feeling of being visionless.

With over 170 walks to choose from, the festival offers a good mix of unconventional experiences. “In the past two editions, we’ve had a walk for dogs by Woof Woof Walkers (a company that tailor-makes experiences for your pet); a walk through Kathputli colony with street magician Ishamuddin Khan and a science fiction tour of the National Science Centre with Poornima Sardana (a trained museum educator)," says Chauhan. The festival also offers sought after culinary and food-tasting experiences.

Attended by children and adults alike (the youngest participant has been three years old, and the oldest, 80), this thoughtfully designed festival reintroduces you to the city like never before.

The Delhi Walk Festival is on till 12 November; each walk costs Rs472. This festival is in collaboration with Salt Experiential Marketing. Click here for details.

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