Red Fort Delhi History Timings Stories and Secrets of Kings and Begums

Red Fort Delhi is a treasure chest of tales if only, you and I cared to stop and listened to its stones. As a frequent traveler to this fort, I have paused at its gates, and in its rooms and wondered about the enchanting history of this monument.

 

Red Fort Delhi
After centuries of rule by the Mughals over this Fort, our national flag flutters proudly atop the Lahore Gate

The Red Fort Delhi stories

 

I do not want this post to be a travel guide; this post will be more about the history of Red Fort and its most famous inhabitants-the Mughals.

While I will introduce you to the various monuments of Red Fort Delhi, I shall also tell you the various events associated with them.

I hope you enjoy these stories.

Veil of the Bride

 

Visitors enter the Red Fort Delhi via the Lahore Gate. This gate faces the city of Lahore in Pakistan.

Now you will wonder about the nomenclature of this gate. No? Well, in the earlier days, Lahore was very much a part of Mughal India and was an important city. Lahore was also the springboard for any military campaigns directed at Afghanistan. At that time, Afghanistan was called Kandhar. Invaders headed to India had to conquer Kandhar first.

Well, in the earlier days, Lahore was very much a part of Mughal India and was an important city. It was also the springboard for any military campaigns directed at Afghanistan. At that time, Afghanistan was called Kandahar and invaders headed to India had to conquer Kandhar first.

Read Exciting events in Delhi this week you must not miss at any cost

When the Red Fort first came up in 1648, the Lahore Gate used to face Chandni Chowk. But, when Aurangzeb assumed power in 1659, he changed the direction of this Gate by 90 degrees. The new Emperor wanted to twist the approach to the Fort.

 

Upon hearing this change in alignment, Shahjehan, the father of Aurangzeb, wrote a moving letter to Aurangzeb. He was in the captivity of his son at that time. Among other things, Shahjehan lamented that this change was like a putting a veil on the face of a bride.

Red Fort Delhi Fact #1

 

Did you know that Shahjahan was imprisoned by his third son Aurangzeb after the latter defeated Dara Shukoh in a battle?  Dara was the elder son of Shahjahan and was next in line to become the Emperor. Aurangzeb kept his captive father in the Agra Red Fort.

Meant for bows and arrows, not guns

 

The Red Fort walls are bows and arrows based defensive structures. These battlements were not adapted for guns and canons. This is surprising because the Mughals had introduced the artillery in India way back in 1526. In that year, the Mughals had defeated the Lodhis in the first battle of Panipat.

Watch this excellent video to appreciate the history of the Mughals:

https://youtu.be/fileKe_ydRs

I think that when Shahjahan built this Fort in 1648, he thought that there won’t be any attacks to his palace for a long time. He was clever and industrious and had brought a large part of India under his control. During Shahjahan’s time, the Mughal Empire was quite secure from external attacks.

Red Fort Delhi
Clearly, the walls are not meant for guns and canons

When Aurangzeb came to power in 1659, initially he faced very little opposition from his enemies. However, after 15 years of his rule, Aurangzeb realized that he was not secure from external attacks. Tearing down the fort walls was impossible so he decided to change the direction of the gate.

Call Now at 9810840763 for your trip to Red Fort

Meena Bazaar- the Mall of Lust

 

Just as you enter the Red Fort Delhi, you are greeted by two rows of shops. This is a medieval era bazaar and has survived more than 360 years of turmoil. The name of this market is Chhatta Bazaar and has a very interesting history behind it.

Chhatta Bazaar
In the good old days, this bazaar was the pride of the Mughal Empire

Unconfirmed reports say that this roofed market in the Red Fort came into being after Shahjahan saw a market like this in Peshawar.

Red Fort Delhi
Avenue de’ luxury

The Chhatta Bazaar was also called Meena Bazaar in the earlier days. Do you know why? It is said that during the 9 days of Nauroz, only the ladies belonging to the elite of the Mughal Empire could set up their stalls here. The only male who could come here and shop was the Emperor himself. The Emperor used to haggle a lot with the beautiful ladies in this bazaar. It also was a good opportunity for him to entice some of them to his harem.

Forbes says that Shahjahan gifted his wife one of the most expensive gifts of all time.

Much more than a mere mall

 

The Meena Bazaar or the Chhatta Bazaar was much more than a small time market. The Mughals used this mall to impress the visiting envoys with their opulence. On display in this market were some of the finest materials that the world had seen- perfume, spices, bullion, textiles, muslin etc.

Bangles
The Chhatta Bazaar is no longer a luxury mall now. Shops sell trinkets here now such as these bangles

From Agra to Delhi


One thing has always puzzled me; why did the Mughals shift their capital from Agra to Delhi? They were quite settled in Agra which gave them strategic space to fan out in the rebellious Deccan and Rajputana. Shahjahan did not face any significant threat from his enemies for most of his rule so what made him go 250 kilometers up north?

Shahjahan’s dad, Jahangir

 

Our Red Fort Delhi story begins with Jahangir. I could have started with Akbar and Humayun but their connection with this monument is very indirect. I would dwell on them some other day in this post.

Image result for images of jahangir
Salim, also known as Jahangir, was an unworthy successor to Akbar. Image Creds: Forbes

Jahangir was an indolent man. Probably, Salim (Jahangir) in his later years, did not want to come to this world at all. Mughal records say that his mother, could not conceive him for many years until she was pressed into the service of Salim Chishti. We do not know about the nature of service that she performed but, her child was duly named after the Sufi saint.

Read “The Fall of the Mughal Empire by Jadunath Sarkar

Salim grew up to be an indolent man. He was an opiate and a heavy drunkard. God knows how he picked up these bad habits. Salim had a weak spirit and a weaker mind and was quite unlike his father in many respects.

The affair of Khusro- Part 1

 

Akbar preferred Khusro over Salim as his successor. But, who was Khusro?

Khusro was one of the sons of Salim. The latter had other sons as well and one of them was Khurram, but right now we will talk only about Khusro.

Image result for images of Khusro
Khusro lies buried in this garden tomb at Allahabad, India Image Creds: Wikipedia

When Akbar fell sick, he thought of anointing Khusro as his successor. To Akbar, Khusro was an ideal successor. He was handsome, industrious, clever and clever. Akbar thought that Khusro would manage the Mughal Empire well. Akbar;s close confidantes did not think that way, however.

Would you like to take a guided tour of Red Fort Delhi?

This is the event link- http://go.eventshigh.com/32dd

For making payments, please clickk here- https://ticketing.eventshigh.com/checkout.jsp?src=fbTicketWidget&eid=031d7dd548286a84edb2198883d36a40

However, things did not go the way as Akbar had planned. Akbar’s close relatives forced him to change his mind and ultimately, Salim succeeded Akbar upon the latter’s death in 1605.

The affair of Khusro- Part 2

 

Khusro had a Hindu mother and a Muslim father. His mother was a Rajput and belonged to Amber. His father, Jahangir was, of course, the son of Akbar.

This extraordinary man was handsome, well-spoken and tactful. He had several followers but none of them gave him sound advice.

Read Fort India
One of the pillars supporting the terrace of Diwan-e-Aam, or Hall of Public Audience

When Jahangir ascended the throne after his father’s death, the latter decided to keep a close watch on Khusro. One day, the son came up to Jahangir and asked for permission to visit Akbar’s tomb. Jahangir agreed readily to his son’s request but decided to keep an eye on him. Khusro left the Agra Fort accompanied by 300 soldiers and reached Sikandra, where his grandfather was buried. After praying at the grave of Akbar, Khusro left for Mathura which is 50 kilometers from Agra.

The spies duly informed Jahangir of Khusro’s moves.

After spending some time at Mathura, Khusro left for Delhi, 200 kilometers from Mathura. From Delhi, Khusro and his train departed for Punjab, where he met Guru Arjan Dev.

Clearly, Khusro had something in his mind.

Jahangir-Khusro faceoff

 

All this while, Jahangir was tracing Khusro. He finally cornered his wayward son in Lahore. Khusro, at that time, was trying to capture the Lahore Fort.

A battle ensued between the father and son and ultimately Jahangir defeated Khusro.

Khusro was imprisoned and brought to Delhi along with his supporters. They were lined up on both sides of the main street in Delhi and later impaled alive. Khusro was made to watch this spectacle.

Manbai’s dilemma

 

All this while, Manbai, the mother of Khusro was confused. She could not decide whether her husband, Jahangir was right or whether Khusro needed to be supported by her.

One fine day, she consumed a lot of opium and committed suicide. Manbai was sad at the turn of events unfolding in the Mughal household.

The Noorjahan saga

 

The story of Red Fort Delhi would be incomplete without Noorjehan or Noorjahan who was Jehangir’s wife.

Salim or Jehangir was a prisoner of her charms and did all that what was told to him by her. He was her virtual prisoner, so the records say.

Noorjehan was the only Mughal empress to have coinage struck in her name.[5] She was often present when the Emperor held court, and even held court independently when the Emperor was unwell. The Empress was given charge of his imperial seal, implying that her perusal and consent were necessary before any document or order received legal validity. The Emperor sought her views on most matters before issuing orders.(Creds- Wikipedia)

Noorjehan was already in her 30’s when she married the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir. He was her second husband; her first husband, Sher Afghan, was killed in a duel.

Some people say that he was killed on the orders of Jahangir, who was jealous of Sher Afghan.

Read here about Noorjehan

Noorjehan already had a child, Ladli Begum who was fathered by Sher Afghan, when she entered the harem of Jahangir.

The Conspiracy

 

Sometime after her marriage, Noorjehan and Jahangir ran into opposition by some old Akbar faithful courtiers like Mahabat Khan. The old noble had served Akbar well but thought that Jahangir was unworthy of the Mughal throne.

You will be surprised to know that the Khan was once the Commander-in-Chief of the Mughal Army during Jehangir’s rule. So why did Mahabat revolt against his Emperor?

It is said that many Mughal nobles in Jehangir’s court felt insecure at seeing the rapid rise of this man from Persia.And you know what happens in these cases. Some of the jealous nobles told the Queen that Mahabat Khan was acting pricey and did not respect the royal family.

What do you think, Noorjehan did to counter Mahabat Khan?

(To be continued)

How to reach Red Fort Delhi– Delhi Metro offers excellent connectivity to this place. You can take a Metro from Rajiv Chowk or any other station in Gurgaon. Get off at the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and take a rickshaw.

You can also take a Metro from Mandi House and get down at the Red Fort Metro station.

Red Fort Delhi Timings– Open on all days, except Mondays. Timings- 9.30 am -6 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi travel-Begums,Concubines,Maids and their affairs-Red Fort Stories

This Delhi travel post is all about storytelling. If you want to know more about the Great Mughals, then join me on this tour.

Red Fort Delhi

Are you planning to travel to Delhi? Then let me make your Delhi travel experience a little more memorable with this post.

Interested? Read on…

Venue
Red  Fort, Delhi
Delhi travel
With a few of my guests at Red Fort, Delhi
What’s on offer?

Listen to the untold stories of the Mughal emperors, their princes, princesses and other members of their family. You won’t find these stories in the various guide books such as Lonely Planet etc.

Delhi travel
That’s yours truly in one of the storytelling sessions

Still interested?Wow, this means I have captured your attention. Read on to know more about the offer in this Delhi travel package…

Do you know that there was a Mughal king who had more than 700 wives and concubines and wanted a fresh girl every day to satisfy his lust? Ummm..is not that interesting?

Delhi travel
Sonia from Chicago, found the Spice market absolutely riveting

Who was that Mughal prince who gave up his life for the love of his wife? He did not want to marry again and was steadfast in his loyalty to his only wife.

The strange case of the Mughal princess who had had her own poetry sessions in the lawns of the Delhi Red Fort. She was later imprisoned by her father and died a lonely death in the imperial jail. Who was she?

 

O breakfast of the Emperor, look at me

The Mughal Emperor Shahjahan who built this magnificent building more than 350 years ago, had a glad eye towards women. Who was that woman who was titled, ” Breakfast of the Emperor” and what fate had befallen upon her in the harem?

Jamali Kamali tomb
The Sufi and his lover sleep here; Jamali Kamali tomb in Mehrauli

 

Malls of lust…

Hear me share delightful and untold stories about the Mughal harem. Do you know what a harem means? It was a big place that housed the begums, concubines, princesses and of course the maids.

Delhi travel
A trader sells “jalebis” in Old Delhi, it is yummy
The story of the dog and the ass

Wow, you won’t believe that in the 18th century, there lived a begum ( wife of the king) who had had a secret affair with a eunuch! Now how can that be possible, ladies and gentlemen? Well, these are the stories my Delhi travel package is all about.

There are more stories on the anvil and all this is just a fraction of them.

Package includes
  • Trip to Red Fort, Delhi
  • A cycle rickshaw ride in the bye-lanes of Old Delhi
  • We also walk through the biggest spice market of Asia, the Khari Baoli market
  • If your constitution permits, we shall have some street food as well.
Price

Rs. 1,500 per person. Children below 12 years come free.Payment can be made in cash, at the end of the trip.

Ticket Price does not include
  • Your conveyance to the point of assembly (Red Fort Ticket Counter)
  • Entry ticket to the Red Fort
  • Any curios that you might want to buy
  • Cycle rickshaw ride cost
  • Any object that you may want to buy in the market
Ticket Price INCLUDES
  • Snacks ( Tea/ coffee plus samosas/ sandwiches etc.)
Timings

10 a.m. The duration will exceed 5 hours.

Delhi travel
This temple in Chandni Chowk has an interesting story behind it, what is that?

You may contact me at 9810840763 if you are interested in this package. Alternately, please send me an email at swayamt@gmail.com and I will be happy to connect.

Please note that Red Fort is closed on Mondays and a few government holidays.

Kindly give me an advance notice ( 24 hours or before) so that we can stitch things up nicely.

Thanks and bye.

 

 

Delhi photoblog

Delhi photoblog-the city comes to life

My mobile camera encouraged me to do a Delhi photoblog  while coming back from the Red Fort last Sunday. Since a large number of my readers live outside India ( I hate the term ‘foreigners’) , a photoblog like this one would be in order for them. Many of them see Delhi through the eyes of tourist places and hotels and they do not get to see how people in India actually live their lives.

Let me know if you like this Delhi photoblog. It would be better if you suggested improvements. Some pics are crappy, but I am not  a professional photographer, you see.

Delhi photoblog
The Lodhi  Colony Art District

The staid government colony, Lodhi colony, is undergoing an image makeover these days. Graffiti is making this habitat an interesting place for the backpackers.

Whomsoever has planned and executed this project deserves my kudos.

Speaking of doors, I found this one..isn’t it pretty?

Delhi photoblog
Can you imagine the age of this beautiful door? My guess is it is more than 220 years old.
Delhi photoblog
Is she a goddess or is she a beautiful girl?

Can you guess who she is? I think she is a working woman. Carrying her child on her back, she is seen flitting from home to school to back to home. She can be found in places as diverse as New York, Nigeria, Japan or Delhi.No?

Delhi photoblog
This lady reminds me of the American Indians

What is the grandmother saying? Can you guess? Perhaps, she is pleading to save the environment. “Save trees.”

Delhi photoblog
Delhi has never looked this beautiful

Yes, the ladies need to be fearless. Whether young or old, they should look the world into its eye.

Mornings=Tea Time

Delhi Photoblog
Chai, Chai

Delhi photoblog would be incomplete without this picture. Our mornings begin with chai. This chaiwalla uncle is preparing tea for his guests. I am calling this gentleman an uncle because he is  a little younger than my dad.

The most famous chaiwalla ( tea-seller) of India is our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He used to sell tea in the trains and railway stations in his teens.

Delhi photoblog
A chaiwalla brews up some excellent tea

This is paradise my friends, paradise. If you like this photo, the credit goes to my Gionee camera.

Bliss!

Delhi photoblog
She too is a mother. Don’t you dare touch my kids, she is saying

My kids would have hijacked some of these pups had they been around ;)))

Morning News !

Elsewhere, a gent is catching up on some morning news.

Delhi photoblog
The printed word still is still trusted by many when it comes to news.

Setting up shop

Delhi photoblog
A panoply of colors

Can you imagine India without color? I took this snap when a shopkeeper had just opened up his stall to sell bangles. Gods and bangles jostle for space in this stall.

Delhi photoblog
The spice seller at Chandni Chowk

India has always been known as the land of spices. I read in my history classes that the Romans and Egyptians used to trade their bullion for our spices which is not a bad deal after all!

Sharing is caring

Delhi photoblog
Many Indians start their morning by sharing their foods with animals

We share our spaces, roads, homes and even food with animals and I hope you like this photo from the Delhi photoblog.

Color my skies

Elsewhere, our skies were getting ready to welcome their guests- the kites.

Delhi photoblog
This was the first time Delhi played host to an international kite flying festival

People in Delhi fly kites on January 26th and August 15 but this was the first time that kite flying  was promoted on an international scale in the city. Good effort but a lot of distance to cover.

If you were around, you could have bought a few puppets as well  in the festival.

Delhi photoblog
Puppets have their own tales to tell

Kathputlis or puppets are dying in Delhi. When I was young, I could see many puppeteers around and telling stories about folk heroes through the kathputlis. Video  and mobile games have replaced this popular form of entertainment and alas, our kids don’t know much about this craft. Puppeteers use their hands and voice skilfully to recount ancient tales of folk heroes and heroines.

Delhi photoblog
This joker was balancing dominoes as part of his entertainment duties

A jeep hauls up a heavy kite!

Delhi photoblog

I have flown kites when I was in teens  but never knew that some of them need to be hauled up by jeeps!

Have you ever flown kites?

Delhi Ghost Walks

Join this haunted buildings tour of Delhi and face the ghosts eye to eye

We had called this tour, the haunted buildings tour of Mehrauli! The day chosen for this tour was perfect- December 25. The sky was overcast and a heavy fog lay over the city. Indeed, the weather gods had conspired among themselves to really make December 25, a  haunted day!The idea was to visit the various haunted places in the Mehrauli Archaeological Area.

 

The  Qutub Minar was enveloped by a thick blanket of fog and it appeared to me to be  some kind of a scary building

Delhi Haunted Tour
The famous Mehrauli landmark was covered by a thick fog

Do you know about the Qutub Minar? It is one of the tallest historical structures in India. 

The haunted buildings tour in Mehrauli

 

I have been to the Mehrauli Park several times in the past.

All alone.

Immersed in my thoughts. But, what made this haunted buildings tour special was that here, I was a part of an audience. I just wanted to be a listener and get lost in the stories of the haunted places of Mehrauli.

 

I just wanted to be a listener and an onlooker. No comments, no gyan, but just a soaker of stories.

 

The tour organizer was the enthu duo of Ritesh Datta- Sushmita. These guys are bubbly and full of energy, warmth and good humor. And boy, did they do their job well? Yes, most certainly, they did.They actually made this Delhi Haunted Tour come alive!

The haunted Mehrauli Archaeological Park can be accessed with a gate that is always open. There are no tickets. If you are on the Mehrauli- Gurgaon Road, you will find that gate. It is diagonally opposite to the Qutub Minar Metro Station, though you will have to walk approximately 200 meters.

The haunted house of Balban

 

The first building that we visited in the Haunted Tour was the grave of Balban. Sushmita told us that the grave indeed is haunted and is infested with spirits and ghosts.

Sushmita told us that the grave indeed is haunted and is infested with spirits and ghosts.

Can we have the photographs, please?

Haunted Tour
Sushmita-our Tour Guide

The photo was taken by an iPhone camera.

This is the grave.

Haunted Tour
Balban’s Tomb

But, who the hell was Balban?

 

History tells us that this Sultan of Delhi was a murderous soul. He was much like Count Dracula of Romania.

People say his grave is haunted. If someone bows his head in front of the grave then that fellow loses his life shortly. Do you believe it?

The inscriptions that you see in black send out an inexplicable aroma in the air. Nobody knows who paints those letters in black, It is a mystery. Can you read those letters? I can not because they are in Farsi and all I can read is either English or Hindi.

If you want to know more on Balban, click here.

People say that the 80 year old Sultan used to hold his court in this haunted house.

Much like his stern personality, his tomb is also a grim structure.

Haunted Tour
A cold Sultan has a cold grave for company

Now have a look at these circular holes. These carried djinns in small pitchers! Can you believe it?

haunted buildings
Where did the djinns escape to?

I would not have known all this if I hadn’t joined this haunted buildings tour, I bet.

Haunted Buildings Tour ‘s next destination -Jamali Kamali

 

If you are alone, do not enter this place in the dark. The tomb of Jamali Kamali is also said to be spooked. The weather added to the spookiness of the entire haunted complex.

haunted buildings
The Sufi and his lover sleep here; Jamali Kamali tomb

Much has been written about this ghostly place, but very few know about Jamali and Kamali. My theory is that they were a teacher and pupil duo who loved each other and died in each other’s arms.

Both of them were men.

Is it spooked? Nobody in this haunted trip had any answer, to be honest.

 There is a theory which says that unfriendly ghosts will get you if they are disturbed in their resting places.

Apparently, a paranormal scientist had woken up a sleeping Djinn here and this made the man commit suicide!

Read here of his death!

The Jamali Kamali tomb is a fine building, all things considered.

Haunted Tour
The facade of the  haunted Jamali Kamali mosque
Haunted Tour
A sunflower adorns the top of the gate
Haunted Tour
At the Jamali Kamali Tomb. Are these guys aware that there might be ghosts nearby?

While I was listening to the haunted history of this mosque, my friends were readying their equipment for their shoots.

But, who was Jamali and who was Kamali?

 

This was the question uppermost in the minds of the Delhi haunted buildings tour members.

There are many opinions about the origin of Jamali and Kamali.Some people say that Jamali was a Muslim poet who lived in the court of one of the Sultans of Delhi. When this Sultan lost in a battle, the poet shifted his loyalty to the winning king. The winning King built this mausoleum for the poet.

Nobody knows for sure who was Kamali. Some say that he was a homosexual partner of Jamali. Others think Kamali was the wife of Jamali. If you know who were they, please let me know.

Also read-Maheshwar, Varanasi of Madhya Pradesh

The Jamali Kamali complex was built in the 1500s and Balban’s  was built in the late 1200s but both these buildings are separated by a narrow street.

The Angrez  and the swimming pool

 

The Britishers became the masters of Delhi in the middle of the 19th century. One of them was a colorful character. His name was Thomas Metcalfe and he was a great host for his guests.When he was not working, Metcalfe used to enjoy the Delhi summers lounging in the swimming pool or the Hauz that he had made for himself.

Haunted Tour
The Metcalfe Hauz

Thomas Metcalfe was the younger brother of Charles Metcalfe, who was a senior officer in the East India Company. The junior Metcalfe was made by his brother the agent of the Company in the Mughal court.

Thomas made sure he lived his life 100 % while being the English agent to the Mughal court. He converted some important Mughal buildings into pleasure houses and this made the Mughals very angry.

One such pleasure house that was built in Mehrauli by Metcalfe was the Dilkusha ( pleasing the heart).

The Junior  Queen of the then Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was very angry at these developments. Many people suspect that she poisoned  Mr. Metcalfe to his death. He lies buried in an old part of Delhi near the present day Inter State Bus Terminus at the Kashmiri Gate.

Is Dilkusha haunted? I think so because whenever I have passed by this building, I have experienced queer sensations. Sometimes, I have felt as if long dead people in these haunted places are calling out to me.

More haunted places

 

There are several other haunted houses in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. For example, the Boat House built by Metcalfe always has some rose petals sprinkled in its doorway.

Delhi Ghost Tour
Boathouse, Mehrauli

Another ghostly house in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park is this one:

This then brings us to the end of the Delhi Ghost Tour of Mehrauli.

I hope you liked it.

By the way, if you want me to take you around on a Delhi ghost tour, please write back to me.

Thanks for reading the post.

 

Delhi this December

Delhi this December- Discover the artist in you

Delhi this December
Can you see yourself here?

Delhi this December and for the rest of the winter season throws open its creative aspect to the numerous travelers coming to the city. If you are planning to visit India and stay in Delhi for a few days, this post will help you in exploring the unknown facets of Delhi.

While you can visit several bazaars, palaces and tombs in Delhi this December, you will be pleasantly surprised to know about the several gigs that help the artiste in you to surface. I was myself unaware of these literary ‘watering holes’ in Delhi till last year. To discover these places all you have to do is keep an eye on the events calendar- it is that simple.

1.Caferati at Antisocial- Budding poets and writers converge here every month’s last Wednesday and lay bare their souls and emotions to the assembled crowd. Participation is free but every participant must wrap up her gig in 2 minutes. For the literary inclined , it is a ‘must visit place ‘ in Delhi this December.

Delhi this December
Antisocial, Hauz Khas Village

Most of the guys here are novices and this gig in Delhi provides a platform to budding poets and writers to demonstrate their craft to Delhi. Antisocial is located on the second floor of the Hauz Khas Social restaurant in the HKV.

By the way guys and gals, this place gives an awesome view of the Hauz Khas lake.

  1. Chai Aur Chakallas- We went to this event last November and are longing to go there again. Chai aur Chakallas is definitely on our radar in Delhi this December  as well and we are just waiting for the dates to be announced . Last time the gig was hosted by Kunzum cafe and it saw more than 60 people turn up. Again, the time allotted was 2 minutes and the list of speakers was limited to just 20.
Delhi this December
Chat, sing, make friends- Kunzum Cafe

One of the travel poets is in full form here;

  1. Delhi Literary Festival- Last year, this event was hosted at the eponymous Dilli Haat. It saw several interesting speakers , publishers and even diplomats share their experiences, writings and other creative aspects. Publishing company representatives spoke about the opportunities for newbie  writers and novelists in an age of self publishing. Let us see what is the venue of this event in Delhi this December.

Watch this participant share her perspective of life in this presentation.

 

  1. The Great Indian Film and Literature Festival- This one promises to be an exciting event this December.Please note it is not being organised in Delhi. The venue is DLF Cyberhub. I hope to be here on December 3 this year. Are you planning to head here? Let me know.

 

Delhi this December
Poetry on Wheels

 

Do you know some other places where you can exploit your talent? Let me know. I shall feature those places in my next post.

 

Visit Delhi

Visit Delhi- Mehrauli is much more than just Qutub Minar

Visit Delhi and you will be surprised to discover some hidden gems as travel destinations. In this post, I shall take you through the lanes of Mehrauli- one of the oldest villages of Delhi.

Visit Delhi
Qutub Minar

How to reach Mehrauli village?

Wondering about the unknown travel destinations of Delhi? Today, I take you to the back lanes of Mehrauli. I went walking to this amazing but secret part of Delhi and look, what I found? People interested in the history and culture of Delhi would definitely like this post.

You need to get down at the Qutub Minar Metro Station. Ensure that you have adequate water with you as walking around Mehrauli is quite a laborious affair. You also need to have a sturdy pair of boots.Don’t worry- the roads aren’t uneven. It is just that the monsoon slush does not dampen your feet.

To get into Mehrauli village, take the road that veers right from the entrance of the Qutub Complex. This way, the famous tower of Qutub will fall towards your left.

Visit Delhi
The Qutub stands tall and casts its gaze over this ancient village
Visit Delhi
Once upon a time, these streets carried the palkis and carriages of kings.

Why Mehrauli is a must on your itinerary when you visit Delhi

Since, it was a rainy day I did not feel the heat in the air- it was quite cool while walking.

But, let me tell you this- walking on this road gave me goosebumps! I wonder how many generations of people, kings, commoners etc  would have walked upon this ancient street.

Do you know that Mehrauli is one of the oldest settlements in the human history? Some people say it is more than 1000 years old!

Temple of Lord Krishna’s sister

A few metres ahead is the ancient temple of Yogmaya. She is the sister of Lord Krishna, one of the heroes of the mankind.I did not feel like taking the photograph of the temple. But, here is a snap of the two golden lions that guard the temple.

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This golden lion guards the Yogmaya Temple

This temple is one of the most ancient temples of Delhi- it is more than 5000 years old! When, the Turks captured Delhi more than 800 years ago, they demolished it. The temple was renovated by King Hemu in the 16th century. The modern look of the temple is ascribed to its renovation in the `19th century.In fact, all the ancient temples in Delhi wear a modern look.

So, you see, Mehrauli is littered with monuments that are as old as 5000 years! Where else in the world can you such exciting monuments, where else?isn’t Mehrauli a backpacker’s paradise? Now, I hope you realize why this place is a must for all travellers planning to visit Delhi.

As you walk further down the road, you encounter an imposing monument towards your right. It is a grave and this one is dedicated to a noble who was killed by a medieval king, Akbar.

Interesting stat about this tomb- It was used as a party hall by the British officers!

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Adham Khan’s Tomb

No full stops in Mehrauli!

Though, Mehrauli was overrun by so many invaders over the past 1000 years, the it  still has  retained its life and colour. People in Delhi are generally lovers of life and energy and there are no full stops in Mehrauli too!

This is Shehzad who sells home made remedies to the locals here. All his “medicines” are stocked in a gunny bag. There is a speaker that belts out his message exhorting the passers by of the virtues of his drugs.

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Mehrauli is a melting pot of cultures

Shehzad is from Bengal which is more than 1500 kilometres from Delhi and there are many more such Bengalis working here. Over the years, Delhi has become a melting pot of many kinds of people, such is the allure of Delhi.

But,dear lovers of Delhi, do you know that there is a small memorial to the fallen soldiers of the British Indian Army who fought in the First World War (1914-1919)? Tell this to your friends when they are planning to visit Delhi after reading this.

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Memorial to the First World War

Arches and much more!

But,Mehrauli is still all colour after all these centuries of turmoil.And, if you have a keen pair of eyes, you can behold some fantastic looking arches and doorways.

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Arches, gateways, arches ! My heart aches!

In another part of Mehrauli, you see a lady selling rakhis or sacred threads that are supposed to ward off evil from brothers.

167The festival of rakhis is round the corner and the friendly lady is ready with her wares.

And in case you may want to buy gigantic cigarettes or hookahs, my dear friends , here is the shop.

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I am a non smoker, though!

Meanwhile, as I continue walking onward, I stumble upon yet another “ancient” temple. This one is dedicated to Lord Shiva , the God of Death. The temple is located on the Maharaja Agrasen Chowk. Maharaja Agrasen is the founding father of the trading community of North India and has a stepwell or “baoli” named after him in Central Delhi.

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And what dis we find here? A Jahaz! A Ship!

More surprises on the way…the next stop is this Jahaz Mahal whose origin is unknown.No one knows who constructed it but its architecture and form is appealing. Have a look.

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Jahaz Mahal, Mehrauli

The word “Jahaz” means ship. Does this structure give you a feeling that you are looking at a ship?

I spotted a pillar bearing some words in Sanskrit.It was inverted and was supporting one of the canopies of the Jahaz Mahal. Is it possible that this structure was made by the demolished pillars of a pre existing Hindu temple or palace?

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Why was the pillar put up in such a manner? Any answers?

The words suggest that the pillar was erected in 1508 AD, more than 500 years back.

And, if you care to turn your head backwards, you will see an exquisite pond- Hauz Shamsi.

Monuments of Delhi
Hauz Shamsi

The legend says that the pond came into being after the hoof of the horse of Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish hit the ground.

Do you believe in this story?

Some trivia

Let us hit the road again and here is what we see- three dogs sleeping in a row.Wow! Such bliss and carelessness !

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Ok, let us cast our gaze on some ancient doors, please.

MehrauliYou can’t do away with these wires, they take the show away!

170And , can Mehrauli escape the traffic jams? Can it really? A three wheeler struggles to negotiate with the clogged Mehrauli streets.

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You will find cars and autos everywhere when you visit Delhi?

Cars..yes cars also try to make their way into Mehrauli! Why can’t the people understand these small things that these streets are far too narrow for vehicles?

Many people who visit Delhi for the first time notice far too many cars on Delhi roads.

So, that takes me to the end of this post my friends. I wanted  to introduce you the little known monuments of Mehrauli and Delhi as I believe that travel destinations such as these have a soul of their own.

I hope you like this post.


Places to Visit in Delhi-Hauz Khas Village

HKV or Hauz Khas Village has something for everyone who is interested in the history,culture,cuisine,art or craft of Delhi.An amazing destination or the Delhi traveller, this quaint place is a bohemian’s paradise.

Located just off the  Aurobindo Marg in Delhi,Hauz Khas Village is a secret waiting to be unveiled. 

Since, I am a history and heritage lover, I shall take you through some amazing spots of this place.

Firoz Shah is credited with the construction of this place. Many experts of history ever that Hauz Khas Village was the site of a medieval Islamic madarsa.A madarsa is a school of Islamic concepts and principles.However,there is nothing to prove this version till now.Foreign travellers are largely unaware of this 14 th century monument.

The main centre of attraction in this complex is the tomb of Firoz or Firuz Shah, a Sultan of Delhi.He was more than 40 years of age when he was persuaded to become the Sultan upon his cousin’s death.Firoz’s cousin, Mohammad was an enigmatic Sultan and had died hairless.

Firoz a credited with building several monuments in Delhi-some of them are covered in this blog.

Adjacent to the complex of Firoz is a mediavel water tank, Hauz Khas.This water body was was excavated by an earlier Sultan,Alauddin.

So,you can see that this place crawls with history.

But,on any day, you will find this place teeming with young romantics.There is not one corner that you will see unoccupied with them.

I like this place for the various shades of architecture and open spaces here.

You will like the green lawns here to unwind.

But,Hauz Khas Village is much more than just a mediavel complex.Look what I found here:a live music coffee shop that overlooks this complex.

As the clouds gathered in the skies,the monuments took in a haunted look!

Inside the cafe,the music added to the seductiveness of the ambience.

So,while Delhi experiences the joy of monsoons, head over to this beautiful place.

You will get lots of interesting places at Hauz Khas Village to indulge yourself.

I came across another interesting place to hang out.Except that there was nothing in there!

Monuments of Delhi

Exploring Delhi- The tombs come to Life!

Travelling to Delhi?Don’t miss spending your Sunday in these two monuments of Delhi that come to life this month. My blogpost mixes history with beauty today.Read on…

Places to see in Delhi
                                      

The Mughals ruled Delhi for nearly  200 years and have left behind some of the most beautiful buildings that we can ever hope to see.Prominent among them are Taj Mahal and the Humayun Tomb. I will not do injustice to you by writing yet another story on them.Today, I am going to take you through the lovely gardens of Safdarjung’s tomb and later, those of Lodhi.

Safdarjung was one of the last powerful ministers of the Mughals. He was ambitious had sensed that his masters were weaklings and were not going to last for long.For the benefit of my readers living outside India, Safdarjang lived during the tumultous 1700s, well over 250 years from now.The British were just setting up their factories in India then.

The last powerful Emperor of the Mughals, Aurangzeb had recently died in 1707 and for a long time, his descendants were  lecherous, cowardly and greedy kings.Some of their ministers thrived in such an environment and Safdarjung was one of them.

Places to see in DelhiHe had accumulated vast amounts of money and also harboured the dream of founding a new kingdom.Safdarjung founded the kingdom of Awadh, the capital of  which was Lucknow,But, before he died, he made a marvellous building for his tomb.

Aren’t you surprised by such ostentation?Well, I am!

The ambitious minister lies buried in a medium sized room within this building.

Places to see in Delhi

Here is the chamber where he lies buried-alone!

Places to see in Delhi

While you are still planning to visit this monument in Delhi,let me add to your sense of wonder by posting a few more photos.I hope, you will like them.

Monuments of Delhi

Amazingly, the minister stole a lot of marble and other construction material from another tomb to build his own.What a man he was?Bloody thief!

The tomb, though a bleak structure in itself , acquires a sense of dignity when you see it placed neatly within the large, well maintained lawns.

Monuments of Delhi

This being spring season in Delhi, a lot of young people flock to these gardens to spend a quiet time to think, to romance and to appreciate beauty.Yours truly was among a set of young friends who wanted to explore this place.

Monuments of DelhiSome trees are shedding their leaves and in a few weeks will sport an altogether new sets of them.Death follows life follows death.It is a continuous cycle.

Monuments of Felhi

As you can see, we were a happy bunch of people sharing our stories and points of view on history and environment.

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Coming back to this tomb,let me share with you some more pictures of the its architecture.

Monuments of Delhi

These windows or pavilions are called jharokhas. Kings or nobles used to sit here and listen to the problems of their subjects.But, why would such a pavilion exist here?Do you have any answer?

Slightly below this window is a marble tablet that has something written in Arabic or Persian.I could not make out what is written in that script.

Monuments of DelhiSome of the geometrical patterns have survived these 200 years.You can find such patterns in the tombs and mosques of Iran as well.

And you can even find some exquisite pieces of inlaid art in the marble here.

Monuments of Delhi

But, my post isn’t over yet! Now, I will take you over to one of the finest gardens in Delhi-the Lodhi Garden which houses some more ancient buildings.

The Lodhi Gardens are known more because some of the most powerful people of India come to it. The gardens are adjacent to the seat of power of India!In the mornings, you can see ministers, senior officials, diplomats and politicians taking a brisk walk inside the garden.

The gardens in this season take on an amazing look.

Monuments of Delhi

 

They are abloom with flowers  and color is the defining emotion here.

Monuments of Delhi

Monuments of Delhi

Lodhi gardens mean different things to different people.

Monuments of DelhiFor heritage lovers, the tombs of the mighty Sultans of Delhi are a huge draw.There are three of them and they are older than the Safdarjung tomb by at least 200 years.

Monuments of Delhi

For lovers, the tombs provide a perfect cover for courtship while for book lovers, there cannot be a better place than these gardens.

Monuments of Delhi

I have a fixation for these tall palm trees.They provide a sense of proportion to the recklessness of our lives.Don’t you think so?

You may also run into a drama theatre in these grounds, as I did.

But, it is the tombs that provide a wonderful opportunity for great snaps.

Monuments of Delhi

The young lady in orange melts into her surroundings.Is she alone?Or there is someone by her side? Or do you think she is waiting for someone?

Meanwhile, somewhere, the ducks enjoy themselves in the still waters of the pond.It seems that there is a silent conversation between the crow and the ducks.

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Oh, you should meet lovely Zahra,It was a pleasure taking her snap.I wasn’t sure her Afghan relatives would be ok with this.Delhi has a large number of Afghans as students and government officials.

Monuments of Delhi

The Lodhi gardens are so named because they house the tombs of the Lodhi kings. They were the rulers of Delhi before the Mughals came.The Mughals defeated the Lodhis in a fierce battle in 1526 AD in a place 100 kilometers from Delhi.

Apart from the tombs, there is an old bridge inside the garden.This bridge, made of stone is at least 400 years old.

Monuments of Delhi

But, as I said earlier, you still can not escape the riot of colours that pervades the environment.It seems happiness has descended upon humans , animals and plants in equal measure.Spring, in India , evokes emotions of romance, luxury and happiness.

Monuments of Delhi

Monuments of Delhi

Monuments of Delhi

Such is happiness!This is what mother nature does to its children, at times.

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So, that is it guys!

But, hey, how does one reach these places?No problem, take the Delhi Metro, get down at the Jorbagh station.From there it is just a 5 minute walk to the Safdarjung tomb.

Entry to the Lodhi Garden is free while the ticket price to Safdarjang is just 5 rupees for Indians.it is costlier for my overseas friends but, affordable, still.

Thanks for reading all this and dropping by.Have a nice day.