India Insight

Photo gallery: a Hipstamatic trip through Old Delhi

By Atish Patel
October 11, 2012

As an iPhone owner and an avid Hipstamatic user, I’ve been capturing daily life on the streets of Delhi for the past few months. As someone who was born and raised outside of India, I’m struck by how much of life is played out on the streets here. From bathing to cooking to sleeping, India’s streets are truly an extension of the home, and in many cases, is home itself.

Most of the photos are from Old Delhi, a world within a world in the heart of the Indian capital. The old quarters were once known as Shahjahanabad — named after Mughal Emperor Shahjahan who built the city in the 1600s.

Seventeenth-century writers and poets described the old city as “paradise” and “like a Garden of Eden”. Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi’s main thoroughfare, once had a canal running down the centre. Today, the canal has disappeared and Old Delhi is overcrowded and run down, and poverty is rife. Beggars line the narrow alleys alongside vendors selling everything from a fresh lime soda to used car parts, and young, homeless drug users huddle to smoke heroin before passing out on the side of the street.

But Old Delhi retains its charm. The smell of kebabs and fresh naan bread hangs in the air near Old Delhi’s most striking landmark, the Jama Masjid. The streets are constantly evolving, every hour, every day. You could walk down a street early in the morning to watch the city slowly wake up, and return hours later to blaring car horns and screaming rickshaw drivers under the hot, shining sun.

 

A man bathes in the polluted Yamuna river in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 1, 2012.

 

A homeless man sleeps under a blanket on the side of the street in the old quarters of Delhi. Sept. 24, 2012.

 

Muslim women travel on the back of a cycle rickshaw in the old quarters of Delhi. May 21, 2012.

 

A young man plays cricket on the street in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 1, 2012.

 

A boy flies a kite near the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of Delhi. Sept. 23, 2012.

 

Foil and matches are seen in the hands of a heroin user who has passed out on the side of the street in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 10, 2012.

 

Two men push a metal cart containing drinking water in the old quarters of Delhi. Sept. 22, 2012.

 

A man drinks tea early in the morning in the old quarters of Delhi. June 18, 2012.

 

A disabled man crawls past men sitting and talking on the side of the street in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 10, 2012.

 

Men walk along the banks of the Yamuna river in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 2, 2012.

 

Men gather outside a shop selling used car parts in the old quarters of Delhi. May 21, 2012.

 

A boy bathes in the street in the old quarters of Delhi. Sept. 25, 2012.

 

A man cleans out the eyes of a street dog in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 5, 2012.

 

Two men eat and chat on the side of the street in the old quarters of Delhi. June 14, 2012.

 

A man speaks on his mobile phone in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 10, 2012.

 

The facade of a mosque is seen in the old quarters of Delhi. Oct. 10, 2012.

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