Tag Archives: Shahjahanabad

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

 We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the sixth post in the series, by JAYSHREE SHUKLA

Shahjahanabad My Love Affair: Jayshree Shukla

(All images by Jayshree Shukla)

 

Ja’ama Masjid

My love affair with Shahjahanabad is only five years old. But it has the passion and intensity of star crossed lovers who fight to be together against all odds. It all began when I enrolled to go for a heritage food walk with a cousin of mine.

The omens were not good. Mohammed (my friend and family driver) and I made the unwise decision to drive to Chandni Chowk and we got stuck in the mother of all jams almost right away. I frantically checked my watch over and over again. My cousin, who had wisely chosen to use the Metro, was already there. Finally, the group left without me.

As they moved to halt number one, I thought I could join them there. But to no avail. I was still stuck. I finally caught up with my group at halt number three. They were having Kanji Vadas. Then we crossed over to the other side and stopped briefly at the Sunehri Masjid. Here we learnt that Nadir Shah had ordered the massacre of the citizens of Delhi standing atop the roof of the Masjid. Exactly there, I too got slaughtered. In my enthusiasm I remained blissfully unmindful of the purse slung carelessly over my shoulder. I discovered soon enough that my wallet was gone. As were all my IDs, my credit and debit cards, all the money I had – everything. I had been foolish enough to keep everything in the wallet and bring it along that evening. So the heritage food walk ended for me in ten minutes. I was not even able to pay for it! And I spent the evening at the Kotwali trying to get an FIR registered. Continue reading Shahjahanabad My Love Affair – Dilli hai jiska naam VI:  Jayshree Shukla

The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts – Dilli hai jiska naam IV: Swapna Liddle

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades and we requested them to write for Kafila.

This series is titled Dilli hai jiska naam, and the links to the previous posts can be found at the end.

This is the fourth post in the series, by SWAPNA LIDDLE

The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts : Swapna Liddle

There are many sources through which we can learn about the history of a city, and these are often the writings of its inhabitants, such as personal letters, diaries, newspapers, and official documents of various kinds. When it comes to basic descriptions of a place, however, it is often the writings of travelers that give us the most vivid accounts. Residents often take their surroundings for granted, neither very conscious of nor feeling any imperative to record their own impressions of their surroundings.

Visitors, on the other hand, are struck by the novelty of the place, and the farther they come from, the more this is true. They often also want to record their memories, in words and in images. In the case of Delhi, a particularly large number of European visitors passed through and recorded their experiences from the late 18th century onwards. This coincided with the expansion of the British East India Company’s control over the Gangetic plain, and became a deluge after the Company actually conquered and began to administer Delhi in 1803. Sometimes the records of these travellers were personal aide memoires for a journey undertaken, but often accounts to be shared with those back home, via letters to near and dear ones. Some of these ended up in the form of published journals with a larger readership.

To us today, the words and pictures left behind are a valuable peek into a landscape that has since then changed profoundly, and this article will be largely dealing with that change. At the same time, 18th century observers were also acutely aware that they were seeing a changing landscape, that had been affected by both natural and human factors. Antoine Polier, the Swiss adventurer visiting Delhi in 1776, was aware that the river Yamuna had quite recently changed its course, from just below the walls of the Red Fort, to about a mile eastwards, leaving only a narrow channel separating Red Fort from Salimgarh.

It is this narrow channel flowing between the two fortifications that we see in many of the earliest sketches, such as those of Captain John Luard in the 1820s and Charles Stewart Hardinge in 1847.

“Red Fort” by Charles Stewart Hardinge

Continue reading The changing face of Delhi in travellers’ accounts – Dilli hai jiska naam IV: Swapna Liddle

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