Close to Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid is a beautiful part of the city’s history. Previously in shambles, Haveli Dharampura has been restored to glory through enormous effort and is now a visual treat. While one may not make much of the narrow lane leading up to Haveli Dharampura, the door opens to a large, inviting courtyard and a burst of colors.

Previously a neglected space, the haveli has been brought to life by architect Kapil Agarwal and Vijay Goel, a member of parliament who hails from this area of Chandni Chowk. The task was not easy. There were rooms filled with debris and objects left behind by previous generations who inhabited the space. There were crumbling towers and broken balconies. Yet, what stands before you will make you wonder if that is, indeed, the truth.


Around half an hours’ drive away from New Delhi Indra Gandhi Airport depending on traffic. Haveli Dharampura is reached via a narrow alley, so the only way to get there is on foot (having been dropped by your rickshaw or car it’s only about 300 yards, call ahead for help with your luggage). There’s a magic to this setting, deep in the maze of streets of Old Delhi, even if it also means it’s more of a challenge to reach.


With scalloped arches, pattern-tiled floors and polished-wood heavy traditional-style furniture, the haveli evokes tradition and echoes similar grand houses in Rajasthan. It’s certainly Delhi’s most characterful hotel. Original features, such as arched alcoves for lamps and colored stained glass, have been retained. The arches between the restaurant and the courtyard have been set with glass. Floors are decorated with patterned tiling.


The hotel has 14 rooms, all with pale stone, patterned tiled floors and carved wooden furniture including impressive heavy wood king-sized beds. The six Jharoka standard rooms are fairly small, though with large carved beds. Spending a bit more money brings you much more space in the six Diwan-e-Khas rooms, and the largest are the two Shahjahan suites, with even more scalloped arches. The rooms have a great historic atmosphere, even if the conversion lacks the attention to detail in places that it could have. Bathrooms are sympathetically done, if small, with walk-in showers.


Many people come here just for the multi-cuisine restaurant. Although Lakhori (named after the narrow traditional bricks that are exposed in the inner section of the restaurant) offers a selection of global dishes, it feels right to eat the traditional Indian cooking rooted in the surrounding area. Many of the dishes use ancient, local recipes. The kebabs and butter chicken are very good, and there’s nowhere else in Delhi you can eat in such a romantic, bygone atmosphere.

We recommend for the main course try deconstructed Aloo Gobhi Mutter and Kofta Dogala {spinach wrapped cottage-cheese with a tomato and malai gravy}. There is Mutton Korma and Kadhai Chicken {which comes in a roti bowl} for meat lovers.The nights when the Kathak dancers perform are particularly recommended.

There are little nooks and crannies on each floor for guests to relax, a small balcony that looks out — well, to not much, since outside here means a VERY narrow, dusty, overcrowded lane that’s typical of the area. But draw the cane blinds and sip your coffee like a nawab, and you won’t even notice it. You can brag about the Old Delhi charm later. Interestingly, all three levels are visible from both the ground floor as well as the terrace, which gives the audience different vantage points. The evening is when the magic of the haveli would really mesmerize you.

The three floors that make up the Haveli Dharampura are a sight to behold. With mosaic and motifs showing the influences of the time it was built, the architecture is a rich reminder of the city’s heritage. Sometimes, the haveli hosts kathak performances, and the plan is to transform Haveli Dharampura into a cultural center with music, art and film screenings. With Delhi fast losing itself to modernization, the haveli is a beautiful example of the timeless charm of Purani Dilli.

On the whole, Haveli Dharampura presents a nostalgic experience of Mughal-era Chandni Chowk in modern times. Those who have visited Rajasthan may find much in common, but in the Capital, a haveli resort in Delhi-6 seems to be a first of its kind. It also shows the way forward for other such dilapidated havelis peppered across Old Delhi. But, mind you, the experience comes at a price — but one that’s worth it.