Delhi is full of secrets. The magic of our history flows in every vein of the narrow now forgotten alleys of the city. Unless you know a historian who can take you to these places, you will probably miss it. Sometimes, even people living in Delhi all their lives may be unaware of this. To each and every one of you visiting the capital, do have a look at these.
‘Zahid sharaab peene de Masjid me baith kar, ya who jagah bata de jahaan Khuda nahi’. These and many other immortal lines by the 19th century poet rule the streets of Delhi like gusts of surprisingly cool winds on a summer day. Mirza Ghalib was here, breathed here, lived here. And his haweli still stands amidst the narrow streets of old Delhi. If you are here, take an evening off and search for it in Chandni Chowk. You will have to ask around but be sure you will find it.
The station is famous, but not so much the Dargah, unless you know a pious Muslim friend or a Sufi enthusiast. We have all heard the commercial Sufi songs played on television, but this is where the philosophy still thrives quietly. And the Dargah is really not some forgotten ruin, it’s alive and pulsating with crowds of believers, and the fascinating rhythm of qawali every other day. You might also want to read up on the sufi saint and master relationship between Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and his companion Hazrat Amir Khusrau.
He was killed here, and you can see the footsteps the caretakers of the place have traced of his final walk from his so called office where he spent the last hour to the spot where he was shot. The place is fragrant with the life of the Mahatma, and the memories of his time spent there. You can see the rooms he used and his life in a pictorial sotry. For every Gandhian, cultural enthusiast or even someone who liked what Mahatma Gandhi said, this is a place to visit.
Majnu ka Tila
The different world, as I like to call it. It is North campus for anyone who knows the University system of Delhi, where MKT is located-the Tibetan refugee colony of the city. The difference will be astounding. People living in whatever little space given to them, dreaming of a free and hopeful Tibet. It is in the slogans of their shops and the pictures of their deities, and their prayer songs and their mouth watering cuisine. You have to go there once to understand how people can live beautifully even in a time of crisis. The beauty of the space and the tragedy it speaks of is only something that can be experienced.
Nicholson cemetery, Kashmiri Gate
I know this sounds odd as a place of visit, but you must see it none the less. Out of the metro station Kashmere Gate (exit no. 4), ask for this place. It’s historically the place the British soldiers from the mutiny of 1857 were buried. The forgotten space cannot be more alive with the history of the first war we ever fought, with the names of British crafted on marble crosses and gravestones. In free India, we may hardly ever notice it, but going there makes our good fortune of living in a democracy even more real.
The madness comes with the writing, in the writing’ according to this author.