Dilli saat baar ujadi aur basi.
(There’s a popular saying that Delhi was destroyed and rebuilt seven times)
Yet, Delhi remained unbowed, intact in its unique culture, leading a life of its own. As Hazrat Amir Khusrau wrote:
Hazrat e Dehli kanf e deen o daad
Jannat e adan ast ke abaad baad…
Shahjahanabad, like the other older cities of pre-Partition India such as Lucknow, Hyderabad, Lahore, etc., was built by the Mughals in the medieval era. The cities had a few common characteristics—the city mosque-fort, a bazaar around it, very distinct socio-economic strata spread out from the…
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…
A smell! A true Florentine smell! Every city, let me teach you, has its own smell.
E.M. Forster, A Room with a View (1908)
In a survey of historical studies of smell, Jonathan Reinarz refers to the 'rich melange of olfactory sensations' offered by cities and towns (first explored in Aroma: A…
Chenoy, S.M. 1998. Shahjahanabad A City of Delhi, 1638–1857. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers.
Cooper, Ilay and Dawson, Barry. 1998. Traditional Buildings of India. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Goel, Vijay. 2010. Delhi: The Emperor’s City. New Delhi: Roli Books.
A book on the history of the family of the first Municipal Commisioner of Delhi, Rai Chunnamal, often referred to as 'Rai Sahab'. The authorship of the book is credited to Lala Radha Mohan and it was published by Oxford Printing Works, Delhi in 1930.
in Library Artifacts
Priya Chauhan: Delhi is often talked about not as a city but almost as a whole living entity .. What are your thoughts on it, on Delhi being labeled a unique city?
Narayani Gupta: You know old cities are, in a way, unique—so, that I don’t think is very special to Delhi. What is interesting is…
What comprises the geographical area of Delhi today is a cluster of several old cities of historical and political significance. What’s ‘Old Delhi’ (Shahjahanabad) now, was a new city for the people of Mehrauli once. A city known for its cultural vibrancy. A brand-new city that developed over time…