My dad restored the haveli, which has received UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation…
Stay in a restored, 200-year-old haveli in the heart of Delhi. My father is in love with Old Delhi and its historical monuments, he’s even written books about it. When I was in college, he told me he wanted to take me to the Taj Mahal of Delhi and that was my first glimpse of Haveli Dharampura – I was standing in ruins with the roof falling apart and I thought he was crazy! He was determined to restore the building and make it into a hotel though and after six years, he achieved his dream. Now, the hotel has received UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
The restoration was a painstaking process that involved bringing the materials through the narrow back lanes of Delhi by foot, sourcing local artisans and even sending a door to Rajasthan to be fixed by an expert. He was working from original plans and trying to preserve the 18th century Mughal-era design. There are ornate wooden doorways and high ceilings, everything is made from red sandstone and the floors face inward over a marble quad. We’ve had architects and students from around the world come to study this as an example of restoration; there’s a gallery of photos in the hotel that tell our story.
Haveli Dharampura lies in the centre of Old Delhi in the alleyways of Chandni Chowk. From our rooftop you can see the back lanes, Red Fort and Jama Masjid – you can watch pigeons and kites flying. Guests repeatedly say it’s like an oasis in the middle of Delhi. We have 14 rooms named after the city’s seven gates and its markets, each with its own character. There’s no other property like us – we’re a heritage home where you can step out of your room and look over the rooftops of Old Delhi and see neighbours chatting.
Our restaurant Lakhori has hosted dignitaries from around the world and is famous for our chef’s tasting menu, which includes curries, breads and desserts. It’s street food but in a fine-dining set-up accompanied by traditional Kathak dance. In the evenings, we also fly kites on the rooftop, which is traditionally done on Independence Day on 15th August but in Old Delhi it’s a sport and happens most days. I’d recommend going to the rooftop at sunset to have a drink and watch the colourful kites.