Purani Dilli ki Dastaan – Ek Mirza Ki ZubaaniMohd Muzammil
Dilli ke na kooche thhe,Auraq e musavir thhe,Jo shakl nazar aayi tasveer nazar aayi
(Delhi’s streets were not alleys but pages of a sketch bookEvery face that appeared was a painting). Mir Taqi Mir, 18th-century Urdu poet. Shahjahanabad: Purani Dilli ki Dastaan Ek Mirza ki Zubaani began to unfold and we start tracing Dilli ki Tehzeeb (Culture). Like anything that is old, Purani Dilli has stories manifold, and its own tale can only be unfolded by visiting, and exploring the bygone era of the city.
Dekho nigah-e-naaz se dilli ke nazareyTehzeeb ki jannat hain ye Jumna ke kinarey
(Look at Delhi’s scenes with pride filled eyeA Paradise of culture, these scenes by Jumna’s side). Urdu poetry has been used by several poets to respect and praise a place and its culture. Poetry was such a strong medium for the poets to describe their views that it gained the attention of a huge audience and develop in them a sense of pride for the place. Delhi, being the hub of poetry for several years, poetas have said much about Delhi. Following are some famous ones.
In dino garche dakkan me hai bade qadr-e-sukhanKaun jaye ‘ZAUQ’ par dilli ki galiyan chor kar -Muhammad Ibrahim Zauq
[We have heard that poetry is greatly valued in Deccan these days, but Zaauq who could bear to leave behind the alleyways of Delhi] You wade through a sea of humanity and a hurried, unapologetic onslaught of rickshaws emerging from the multitude of narrow streets opening up on the main road. Each individual is jostling for space and gasping for air. At about the same time, vignettes of our colourful, glittering, charming, glorious history are fighting their own battle for survival, hoping for resuscitation. Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life in these crowded, over-populated galis and kuchas of Old Delhi lie many untold stories, many forgotten names – the lived experiences of hundreds of years that some of the havelis are waiting to tell. Read on! Explore Every Nook & Cranny Ballimaran, one of the proudest repositories of history, unbeknownst even to its own residents, opens up for business unassumingly. You want to scratch its surface, reach out for all that is concealed by the modern footwear shops and optic stores. When you ask around for local historical anecdotes, you smile at how every person has a story to tell, just as every wall of its every haveli! The Luminaries The haveli of the maverick Urdu poet of the Mughal era, Mirza Ghalib, on Gali Qasim Jaan is the pride of Ballimaran! The residents bemoan how the government auctioned off the haveli for a paltry sum of money and converted barely two rooms into a travesty of a museum. Bestowed with such titles as ‘Dabir-ul-Mulk’, ‘Najm-ud-Daula’, ‘Mirza Nosha’ and many others, anecdotes about Ghalib’s life and times never fail to keep the residents and tourists enthused!
Stories Embedded In The By-Lanes
Every gali, every ‘chajja’ you look at, has a distinct history – long forgotten, with gaps in memory filled by the enthusiastic creative imagination of the current residents. Gali Baradari Sher Afghan, the locals claim, was named after a General in Jahangir’s army, famous for tearing open the guts of a charging tiger with his bare hands. He is also rumoured to have eventually married the woman whom history enshrined as ‘Salim’s Anarkali’.
There is also the almost-in-ruins Haveli of Hisamuddin Haider who was hanged to death by the British for his active participation in the revolt of 1857. It is also known as Phatak Punjabian, by virtue of its occupation by Punjabi refugees, years later.
The locals, relentless, point out with a spirited proud proprietorship, a broken wall which used to be a part of the kothi of Nawab Loharu, who made swords for Emperor Shahjahan. At a stone’s throw from there lie the humble remains of the haveli of Ustad Mohammad-bin-Zauq – the shayari instructor of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
You smile at the rich cultural baggage, the rich grandeur of an era gone by, the history mapped on those very streets, and forgive the rickshaw-waala who hit you accidentally, and hurriedly fled by. Come on over for some old-school zaika!
Share your stories!
You may also share your stories with old Delhi lovers, Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein is a open platform so feel free to share your stories with us and we would love to publish them. Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. Collecting stories is an ongoing activity so feel free to submit more than one. Optionally, please enter any photos and links to Youtube videos that you wish to include.
Note: You may submit your stories in hindi, urdu & english so feel free to share