The noblemen of Shahjahanabad (the walled city of Old Delhi) once ruled the Mughal Empire from their imposing, courtyard mansions – or havelis – that were built as “earthly reminders of the pleasures of Paradise itself”. While these original havelis have long since disappeared, many of those that replaced them still line the streets and alleyways of Old Delhi today, echoing the fabulous architecture of the Shah Jahan era. Many have been partitioned and are home to multiple families.
Ravaged by the vagaries of time, most of Delhi’s 800 havelis or courtyard mansions now lie rundown or ruined. But as the Indian capital seeks World Heritage city status, interest in returning these architectural marvels to their former glory is now being rekindled.
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