Tag Archives: Architecture

[Kafila Audio] Dilli Tha Jiska Naam: Recollections of a Forgotten City

Last week I caught up with Shubhum Mishra, a cartographer/geographer/urban planner, in Sundar Nursery – a Mughal garden turned  colonial green house spanning 70 acres in the heart of Delhi – that shall should be open to the public sometime next year.

Shubhum has just transliterated Intizar Husain’s famous book – Dilli Tha Jiska Naam – from the original Urdu/farsi script to devnagari, in the hope of making this incredible resource more accessible to north Indian readers. In this conversation he reads excerpts from the book and I asked him why modern Indian cities are so spectacularly ugly.

Listen in for a fascinating description of Chandini Chowk and “Old Delhi” – back from when “Old Delhi” was the only Delhi around.  Shubhum will respond to comments on the site. His book is now available in most book stores around the city and you can buy it here


Delhi 1803-2012: A Brief Biography

Delhi, Or Dilli has been a city and a capital for a long time and even when it was not the capital, during the Lodi and early Mughal period, and later between 1858 and 1911, it continued to be an important city. We are of course talking of what is historically established and not of myths and legends. During this period there have been 7 major and several minor cities within the territories now identified as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCR-Delhi). New Delhi is the eight city. This piece marking the hundred years of the shifting of the colonial capital to Delhi from Calcutta in 1912, will talk about both Shahjahanabad and New Delhi. We will see how  Shahjahanabad the once most powerful and rich city of its time and the last capital of the Mughals was gradually  ruined, plundered and virtually reduced to a slum  while next door arose, a new enclave of Imperial grandeur known now as New Delhi. Continue reading Delhi 1803-2012: A Brief Biography

Of Mosques and Minars

The Jama Masjid at Mandu. Photo credit: Himanshu Joshi

I can’t really say when I first heard the Aazan  (the call for prayers given by the Muezzin, five times a day) it must have been in the early 50s when I was a little child and lived in Chabi Ganj, next to the Faseel (City wall) near Kashmiri Gate.

The sound of the Azan would have drifted in from one of the nearby Mosques, there were a few not too far away. The practice of using loudspeakers was not in vogue those days and yet the muezzin’s call for prayers travelled quite some distance, primarily because the horrible ambient sounds that assail our auditory nerves were almost non-existent at the time, in place of this cacophony there used to be other ambient sounds, the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds and others, that have, it would seem, now been lost forever.  Continue reading Of Mosques and Minars