Exploring Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi

in Module
Published on: 02 November 2018

Dr Uzma Azhar

Uzma Azhar has a PhD in Sociology. She is a freelance academic researcher and teacher. She works in Delhi and lives in Greater Noida.

Mir Taqi Mir famously said about Dilli/ Shahjahanabad: ‘Dilli jo ek shehar tha alam me Intikhab/ Hum rehne wale hain usi ujade dayar ke (Translation: Delhi, the city that once was unique in the universe,/ We are inhabitants of that ruined abode). When the capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi by the British and they commissioned Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker to start building the new city of Delhi around 1912, the tag of 'Old Delhi/ Purani Dilli' came to refer to Shahjahanabad. Delhi, perhaps has an exceptional distinction where we find multiple meanings of Old and New, as residents’ of Delhi negotiate with order and chaos between Old, Older and New in their everyday life. Shahjahanabad at present, with its problems of chaos, noise, pollution, congestion, over-population, perhaps is not an easy city to love or even inhabit. The mysteries of its past are not easy for everyone to accept and the complex layers of history are not for everyone to unfold and understand. Thus, not surprisingly, the city brings out strong emotions in people, either they absolutely love it or hate it. But, it still carries a charm and aura, and thankfully there are still more lovers than haters of this 17th century medieval city, which even now supports a big population. Through this module on Shahjahanabad, there are many facets of this city that we have tried to share through articles, videos, photo-essays, images, etc. But there is still so much more to this fascinating city that remains unexplored.