The djinns of Delhi

A classic Delhi facade takes you back in time, if only for a moment

Delhi is filled with old monuments — ghosts and shades of the past — tucked amid the modern hustle and bustle. I’ve been living here for months now and am still noticing new ones. The buildings, sometimes well-preserved as World Heritage Sites, sometimes tucked in neat gardens, sometimes all but ignored, are a reminder of how old this city is.

Most historians agree that there have been at least seven previous Delhis built here before. The British rebuilt and reengineered the eighth. I argue that the current renovations brought on by the Commonwealth Games, and middle-class wealth in general, should be considered Delhi IX.

For those interested in Delhi’s old soul, City of Djinns by William Dalrymple is a fantastic (so far) travelogue chronicling the then-young writer’s year in Delhi.

The above photo is the silhouette of Isa Khan Niyazi‘s gravesite, built in the mid-1500s and dwarfed by the complex of the larger, busier tourist attraction, Humayun’s Tomb. Most of the tourists make a dash for the grand grave of Emperor Humayun, which started a trend in Mughal architecture of ornate burial halls (the more recent Taj Mahal being the best, most famous example).

Off the path to Humayun’s tomb, Isa Khan’s simpler, slightly older resting place is quieter and mostly ignored, reasons I prefer it. Calmly circling the great dome are the black kites that have most likely owned Delhi’s skies since the city’s first incarnation.

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6 Responses to “The djinns of Delhi”

  1. Anna Says:
    February 11th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Beautiful short piece. The last sentence, particularly, is lovely.

  2. JAGTAR BRAR Says:
    February 11th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    wonderful description of the history of this city. Only a sensitive person can do it

  3. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » Headed back to my city Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 10:32 am

    [...] I must say, I have missed her, my newly adopted city. Share this [...]

  4. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » And we’re back… briefly Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 6:26 am

    [...] more about the monuments when I’m back in Delhi for a longer stretch. We all know how much I like ruins. Share this [...]

  5. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » A tomb fit for dogs Says:
    March 19th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    [...] the Humayun’s Tomb complex, but grand and beautiful in it’s own way. This is one of my favorite Delhi monuments, not the least because it’s quieter than the harried Mughal spectacle honoring Humayun [...]

  6. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » Trying that shot again. Says:
    March 20th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    [...] repeat of a photo I took roughly a year ago. Admittedly I like the original, but this one surely shows different details. Share this [...]

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