Abandoned to the herdsmen

The 14th-century fort, Tughlaqabad, is a tourist haven that tourists seem to have forgotten. So today, it’s more likely the home of a few people grazing their goats, donkeys and cattle. See below.

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Visions of the 14th century

Bovine wanderer

Welcome to Tughlaqabad, a fort built in the 1320s and shortly abandoned. Today, it sits on the southern edge of Delhi and remains a largely ignored tourist attraction home to random herders and a handful of Hindu devotees who visit an open air shrine.

The circumference of the fort is measured in kilometers. Adjacent to the site are a beautiful tomb and a smaller fort.

It’s a spectacular place to spend an afternoon and one of Delhi’s fantastic if often overlooked historical sites. See below

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Delhi winter: Keep the home (and street) fires burning

Not exactly a warm hearth

Delhi winters are cold. Maybe not by U.S. standards, but here only the very rich (and not even most of them) can retreat to insulated buildings and central heating. Hence, if it’s 38 degrees outside, it’s pretty close to 38 inside.

The middle class survives on electric space heaters. The poor and laboring classes make due with nightly fires of wood, scrap and garbage. The extremely impoverished huddle together under blankets.

Here, some chowkidars and drivers sit around a burning piece of chipboard in posh Hauz Khas village in December.

Obviously, it’s not exactly chilly in Delhi anymore. But, as usual, I’m behind on posting photos.

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Delhi street gang: Anti-social elements or utter cuteness?

Kids on the prowl

Last December, I explored some old, trash-strewn monuments and stumbled upon a rag-tag bunch of street hoodlums — anti-social elements, as the Indian parlance goes. Thye were running around historical sites hundreds of years old.

And they were up to no good.

Not really. They’re actually adorable kids who just wanted to play. So I decided to have a bit of portrait fun. See below.

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Sunset on the Tughlaq empire

Profile for the ages

In what is now Begumpur in South Delhi, trash covers the ruins of Jahanpanah — which literally means refuge of the world — and obscures the 14th century monuments there-in. The city was the fourth iteration of Delhi and built under Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1326-27.

There’s really not much to look at — degraded structures sit next to an open dumping ground, gaggles of men gather to drink or play cricket and children huddle and watch. Any bit of history about the place is not listed on placards on site. Wikipedia provides basics and a more studied look can be found in William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns.

But it still makes a good silhouette at sundown.

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They are brick…. wallahs!


Meet a father-son recycling team in working Hauz Khas village salvaging brick and stone and rock from a building renovation. India is fantastically diligent about reusing anything of value. Well, at least we’re better than the West.

See more below.

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Squat for a shave

Old Delhi street grooming

Across India, barbers eschew the classic shop for something a little more open air. In this case, on the teeming bazaar road of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, you can get a close and proper shave for pennies on the dollar while sitting on the sidewalk.

Huzzah to the shaving wallah.

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Not exactly a fish-fry… but just as tasty

Roadside fry-up

Meet the Old Delhi pakorda wallah. On a roadside burner, he fries up batter-dipped vegetables for passers-by. Mmmm… I challenge you to not drool at the photo below.

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Paan, on the go

Mobile paan unit

From Old Delhi. A paanwallah’s carry-kit. Readers of this blog know of my flirtation (obsession?) with paan. While I don’t actually chew it all that much, every now and then I jones hard.

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Mirchi wallah!

Nap time for the overworked and underpaid

Meet the day laborer of Old Delhi. That’s a lot of packed hot pepper. See below.

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