This heritage walk coincides with the Festival of Flower Sellers (Phoolwalon ki Sair) organised every year in Delhi. We shared stories of the festival, its history, its performance & visited sites in Mehrauli village where the festival was held. Two key sites in the Sair are Yogmaya Temple & dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. The festival involves offering a chadar (sheet) of flowers at the dargah & pankha (fan) of flowers at the temple. (more…)
Old Delhi is a fantastic location to trace different phases of Indian history. This Sunday our heritage walk focused on exploring Chandni Chowk, the main street of the city of Shahjahanabad, to understands the ups & downs, changes in Mughal rule & the arrival of British. We started near the mouth of Chandni Chowk, near Red Fort. The first stop is two old temples: Digambar Jain Lal Mandir and Gauri Shankar Temple. Former is a Jain temple of the Digambar sect while ltater is a Shaiva temple dedicated to main Hindu deity Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati or Gauri.
Our next stop is the State Bank of India building whose large façade, round arches, Roman pillars and high ceilings are typical of colonial architecture. However, it is interesting to note that it is built over an estate of Kashmiri dancing girl-Begum Samru who was very influential in the eighteenth century. Her palace still exists and is part of Bhagirath Place which is Asia’s biggest electronic market today. A few steps ahead is Dariba Kalan which is a popular street for jewellery. The market has some traditional businesses which manufacture &s sell itra, i.e perfumes or essence. (more…)
There are very few of us unfamiliar with the craze that seizes Delhi when cricket matches are held at Kotla cricket stadium in Delhi. But how many know of the monumental ruins that stand adjacent to it? The citadel of Kotla Firuz Shah, the remains of the capital city of Firuzabad. In fact, it is the citadel which gives the stadium its name. Built in the 14th century by Tughluq king, Firuz Shah, there are only three monuments left in this citadel. Yet, these three have spectacular stories associated with them, both of the past & the present. (more…)
Walk through Kashmiri Gate today & the place is a thriving market for automobile parts, old shops selling all kinds of hardware, including guns! It is hard to imagine how it would have looked three centuries ago. I study in the same neighbourhood & every time I walk through it I wonder about its evolution. The traces of the past are everywhere to see: old lodges with colonial architecture, shops with English names, remains of some Mughal monuments. Our heritage walk this Sunday, gave me an opportunity to share my thoughts & questions with an enthusiastic audience. (more…)
‘Hauz Khas is so large that an arrow cannot be shot from one side to the other’ wrote Timur, who raided Delhi in the 14th century. It is ironical that he defeated the Tughluq ruler & hastened the end of the dynasty, but was full of praise for buildings erected by the same dynasty. He camped at Hauz Khas, prayed in the mosque at Kotla Firuz Shah and wrote all about it in his memoirs.