Paharganj has a long history of habitation dating back to the times of Mughal period when Shah Jahan founded the city of Shahjahanabad. Paharganj was called as Shahganj during those times. It was the only market outside of the Walled City that lay outside the Ajmeri Gate. The name changed to Paharganj later on as it was close to Raisina Hills, the same very hills where the current Rashtrapati Bhawan is situated.
At present, Paharganj is one of the subdivisions of the Central Delhi District.
Today, Paharganj is a thriving marketplace dominated by budget hotels. In fact, you can find hundreds of budget hotels here. It is highly congested during the peak hours and its narrow lanes buzz the whole day.
As the New Delhi Railway Station is located close by, it has become a popular place to provide resting places and eating joints to travelers from different parts of the country. Its proximate location to Connaught Place and Old Delhi also added impetus to the development of low cost hotels here for the convenience of the tourists.
Over a period of time, it also grew into a favourite hotel stay and shopping destination for foreign tourists. The availability of cheap apparel, clothing materials and leather products such as jackets, bags and many others further aided emergence of local market as a tourist hub. Tourists from Russia and Central Asian Republics, South East Asia, Europe and Americas throng here for these products. Due to influx of foreign tourists, the eateries and hotels have also added international cuisines to their menus. This has also made Paharganj famous for international food items.
Some of the landmarks of the market, such as “Cheh Tuti Chowk” or the Six Taps Square, Imperial Cinema, Shiela cinema and Shri Nand Lal Dhaba date back to 1920s and 30s. Shiela Cinema had Delhi’s first 70 mm screen.
Historic Monuments present in the area include the Qazi Wali Masjid which was built during the Medieval times during the rule of Firuz Shah Tughlaq.
Another important place of historic value is the grave of poet Zauq who lived during the Mughal Period.
Shrine of Peer Baba Jalaluddin is also located here and is thronged by people on Thursdays for hearing Qawali, a musical and singing event.
Though there are quite a few clinics in Paharganj, the areas close by have some good hospitals, one of these being Sucheta Kriplani Hospital. Lady Harding College for medical education is also present near to it. Kalawati Saran Children’s hospital is also an important hospital for children.
Karnail Singh Stadium is located here. This is owned by Railways and is located opposite New Delhi Raliway Station. It was built in 1954 and is used for athletics, cricket, football, hockey, badminton and boxing.
Blue line of Delhi Metro passes along the southern and south-western periphery of Paharganj. The nearest station is that of Rajiv Chowk on this line.
The other line is the Orange line, or the Airport Line, lying on the south-eastern flank of Paharganj, with nearest station being the New Delhi Railway Station.