Dilwalon Ki Dilli- An Ode To My City

“Janab-e-‘kaif’ ye Dilli hai ‘mir’ o ‘ghalib’ ki
Yahan kisi ki taraf-daariyan nahin chalti”
-Kaif Bhopali

The land of Ghalib, the city that introduced Mir to love, the city that gave us Amir Khusro, Delhi still has Urdu in its soul and is the city that gave the world authors like Amrita Pritam and Khushwant Singh, and happens to be the city where India’s most famous painter M.F. Hussain was born, the city that gave India, the king of romance- Shah Rukh Khan, the city that gives people hope, the city that has fascinated many and has been ruined several times but has come back stronger, every single time is the city I call home. You would have often heard- ‘Dilwalon Ki Dilli’ which is believed to define the essence of the city and its people and it definitely does! Love is always in the air and somehow always manages to find its way to us. And it is now when I haven’t been able to roam around freely in those scanty lanes of Chandni Chowk and when I haven’t experienced the beauty of those historical gardens and haven’t been to the great cafes and the authetic bookstores for over 2 months that I realised that somewhere down the line, over the years I fell in love with my city. There isn’t anything that hasn’t been written about the city which I will write about here but I promise as you read along you too will fall in love with my city!

Lodhi Gardens. Picture Courtesy: Sarang Bhatia

Now many of you might point out the flaws in Delhi about how its polluted and is not women friendly as is often referred to as the ‘rape capital of India’ which is disheartening and makes me worry about my own safety but then as they said in ‘Rang De Basanti’, “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota. Usey perfect banana padta hai.’ I really hope that there will be a day when the city would be crime free and when I could rome the streets at night without a care in the world but until then. However, the dangers do not lessen my love for the city. Let your souls wander and your eyes guide you through the lanes of the magical city by reading about them right here!

India Gate. Picture Courtesy: Sarang Bhatia

From the historical lanes of Chandni Chowk to the regality of Lodhi Gardens, from the old world charm of Qutub Minar to the royal restaurants that have been here since the British era, there is a lot in Delhi that will leave you craving for more (quite literally)! Oh, did I mention the bookstores? There are bookstores, old ones and the more recent ones which I love in equal amounts! From Bahrisons that has a love affair with books since 1953 to Midland Book Shop which has been romancing books since 1985. Oh, there are the ones which are more recent too! Did I forget to mention the World Book Fair that is held every year in January? Its crazy and exciting in equal amounts but that is just for book lovers I guess!

Whenever I think I have exhausted reasons to love this city, it presents me with one more and I fall in love with it a bit more. Now you might feel like I am romancing the city and honestly I don’t mind anyone thinking that because honestly, what’s there to not love? From the scenic beauty of Lodhi Gardens to the Delhi 6’s old world charm, from feasting on Mughlai curries and Punjabi delicacies to just sitting and sipping Chai on any street corner and just letting yourself soak in the beauty of nature in the gardens and reading under the sun, the little delights make the city magical.

Chandni Chowk. Picture Courtesy: Sarang Bhatia

Delhi has never failed to impress! Be it the Mughal emperors or Britishers, the old or the millennials, Delhi manages to get into the heart of everyone who has been here. The best part is that Delhi’s culture, beliefs, traditions, music, literature, art and history is not an outcome of one dynasty or one ruler or culture. Rather, it is an amalgamation of people, their cultures, beliefs and values.

Humayun’s Tomb. Picture Courtesy: Sarang Bhatia

As Bashir Badr puts it,
“Dil ki basti purani Dilli hai
jo bhi guzra hai usne loota hai.”

Delhi has been plundered and looted several times but nothing, or rather no one has ever managed to strip the beutiful city of its cultural heritage and its glory, if anything they have collectively added to it. And that is why perhaps even after so many years it has managed to retain its relationship with soul soothing music, beautiful art, great literature, awe-inspiring theatre, diverse cuisines and love, yes love! There is no dearth of it in the city! Even amongst the recent riots (in February) we saw people coming together to save their neighbours and friends and that is what gives me hope. All in all, Dilli makes this old soul happy while remaining true to its name ‘Dilwalon Ki Dilli’.

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