A photo-journey in time : exploring Nizamuddin Basti : a blog by Atanu Dey

This time my photo journey was more a travel in time than in space. The location was within Delhi itself but it transported me to an era many centuries past.  

We always relate history to the kings, their dynasties and their conquests and often forget that many a time, the kings had little or no role in the life of the common people. To understand the pulse of the era, it is important to understand the religion and culture (in those days, these two were almost interchangeable) of that era. Amir Khusru's music and Mirza Galib's poetry is as much a part of history as the battles of Panipat, a fact which our school history book authors seem to have forgotten. Thus, we were more than elated to attend a walk conducted by "Delhi Karavans" which took us to explore the "Sufiana" in the Nizamuddin area. 

The most famous sufi saint who resided in Delhi was Nizamuddin Auliya and the area where his durgah is has got it's name from him. The durgah is still throbbing with life - with its lovely white dome with black marble stripes - lighting up every night and the courtyard reverberating with the music of Quawali.

He was a contemporary of Ghyasuddin Tughlaq, though there was considerable conflict between the two. Legend has it that the construction of this Baoli in the Nizamuddin Basti was one of the major points of conflicts.

Nizamuddin's curse "Ya basey gujjar, ya rahe ujar" seem to resonate in the ruins of tughlaqabad fort while Nizamuddin's Baoli, though rendered dirty by the locals, continues to be a part of the durgah and therefore still "alive" in spirit.  

Tughlaqabad fort: in ruins 

Nizamuddin's durgah also has the tombs of many other famous personalities like Amir Khusru (the poet/ musician of that era who is supposed to have invented Sitar and Tabla), Jahan Ara (daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan) and Mirza Jahangir (the prince who could have been the king instead of Bahadur Shah Zafar and who is the reason behind the "Phoolwalon-ki-sair" tradition). 
Very close to the durgah, in a somewhat obscure area, is the mazaar of Ataga Khan who was briefly the wazir of Emperor Akbar. He was the husband of Jiji Anga, one of the foster mothers of Akbar and father of Mirza Aziz Koka (whose grave, incidentally, resides in the Chausatt Khamba also in this area). 

Close to the durgah lies Mirza Galib, possibly the most well known Urdu poet in his mazaar 
"Huye hum jo mar ke ruswa, huye kyun na gharq se dariya
Naa kahin janaaza uth tha na kahin mazaar hota" 

A nameless tomb behind Mirza Galib's Mazaar

This walk transported us back to the era of unfailing courtesy, richness of culture, sonorous symphony of Urdu with the parting reminder that even the most glorious empire has to end oblivion and dust.

Acknowledgements : 
The Delhi Karavan team - Ms Rana Safvi, Mr. Asif Khan Dehlvi, Mr. Syed Mohammad Qasim and all others who took part in this walk. 

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