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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Paharganj

Paharganj, one of the earliest suburbs or extramural areas of Shahjahanabad, thrives today because of its proximity to New Delhi Railway Station, which runs between it and the old city and does a fair job of severing the two.

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Northern India: Paharganj picture 1

Too bad this website is silent. Anyway, the tracks are over behind the trees, the bridge in the distance crosses them (yes, there are sidewalks, but the railings are--how can we put it politely?--exiguous), and the street is jammed because the station is down there on the left, beyond the bridge.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 2

Amazing, what you can load on a cycle rickshaw.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 3

Lots and lots of budget hotels, some with centeral A/C. Don't look at me; that's what it says.

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British officers serving as representatives of the Raj to India's princely states resided in mansions called residencies. It's ironic that, after decades of fighting to drive the British out, the name "residency" should still convey prestige.

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We'll get off the main road and seek some quiet. Anyone who knows the area will laugh, but here we go. By the way, the police minivan has its siren on, as well as its emergency lights, but we can still walk faster than it's moving.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 6

A narrow lane. Glad we're on foot.

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Narrower and narrower, and finally no traffic.

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If you look up, which is normally unwise, you can see the mix of newer and older buildings; if you look down, there's a bunch of tourists kitted out in search of the real India. Well, give 'em credit: they're on their own.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 9

New and old. Wi-fi in a hotel that's been around awhile.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 10

A little mystery: how can trees survive here?

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There's even a little forest, it seems, behind this row of shops. Any theories?

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Bingo!

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Presumably the sign is intended to discourage requests for sub rosa payments, but it seems a little dissonant,

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Besides, you can't get in anyway.

Northern India: Paharganj picture 15

Those vegetable shops we passed earlier are just on the other side of the wall.


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