Delhi-dallying Part 5

Nizamuddin Dargah

The dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya is one of the three major Sufi shrines of India. The other two are Moinuddin Chishti's at Ajmer and Salim Chishti's at Fatehpur Sikhri. They all belonged to the Chishti order of Sufism.

The dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya is one of the three major Sufi shrines of India. The other two are Moinuddin Chishti's at Ajmer and Salim Chishti's at Fatehpur Sikhri. All three belonged to the Chishti order of Sufism. The shrine attracts people from all faiths. It was Khwaja Nizamuddin who uttered the words 'Hanoz, Dilli door ast' (Delhi is yet far away) when Ghiyasuddin Tughlak vowed to come there to finish him off. Tughlak never made it to Delhi, dying en route.

 

The ceiling outside the grave's enclosure.

The ceiling outside the grave

Normally, qawwali is performed at the dargah on Thursday evenings. But that Tuesday morning, as I walked in, the sounds of the great devotional tradition wafted through. It was Gulam Hussain Sabri and his troupe. Mesmerising... And as they sang, a wind blew through the shrine complex, the clouds formed a canopy above and the heavens opened up. I'll never forget what I saw and heard that day.

Normally, qawwali is performed at the dargah on Thursday evenings. But that Tuesday morning, as I walked in, the sounds of the great devotional tradition wafted through. It was Gulam Hussain Sabri and his troupe. Mesmerising... And as they sang, a wind blew through the shrine complex, the clouds formed a canopy above and the heavens opened up. I will never forget what I saw and heard that day.

Delhi-dallying Part 4

Humayun’s tomb

Built by Humayun's widow, Hamida Banu Begum, it is today a World Heritage Monument. Once again, you have the char bagh design and onion dome.

Built by Humayun's widow, Hamida Banu Begum, it is today a World Heritage Monument. Once again, you have the char bagh and the onion dome.

 

Begun in 1562, it took eight years to build.

Begun in 1562, it took eight years to build.

Here lies Humayun, emperor of India during his lifetime.

Here lies Humayun, emperor of India during his lifetime.

The complex has over 100 royal graves. No wonder it's sometimes called the 'dormitory of the Mughals'.

The complex has over 100 royal graves. No wonder it was called the 'dormitory of the Mughals'.

The tomb of Isa Khan, a prominent member of the royal court. It lies close to Humayun's final resting place.

The tomb of Isa Khan, a prominent member of the royal court. It lies close to Humayun's.

Delhi-dallying Part 3

Qutb Minar

Perhaps the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutb Minar is 72 metres high and 14.3 metres wide at the base. Its construction was begun by Qutbuddin Aibak, but completed by his successor Iltutmish, of the Slave Dynasty in 1193.

Perhaps the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutb Minar is 72 metres high and 14.3 metres wide at the base. Its construction was begun by Qutbuddin Aibak, but completed by his successor Iltutmish, of the Slave Dynasty in 1193.The complex houses what is perhaps the oldest extant mosque in India.

The Ashoka Pillar. It bears an inscription in Pali stating it is in honour of Lord Vishnu. It also praises the valour of Chandragupta II (375-413).

The Ashoka Pillar. It bears an inscription in Pali stating it is in honour of Lord Vishnu. It also praises the valour of Chandragupta II (375-413).

Is that an image of a Hindu deity? Hardly surprising. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, the site as once home to 27 Hindu and Jain temples.

Is that an image of a Hindu deity? Hardly surprising. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, the site was once home to 27 Hindu and Jain temples.

Here lies Sultan Iltutmish. Incidentally, he was the father if Razia Sultana.

Here lies Sultan Iltutmish. Incidentally, he was the father of Razia Sultana.

A rival tower sought to be built by Alauddin Khilji. It could never be completed on account of his death.

A rival tower sought to be built by Alauddin Khilji. It could never be completed on account of his death.

Delhi-dallying Part 2

Jama Masjid

The steps leading to the famous mosque built by Shah Jahan. It was completed in 1656.

The steps leading to the famous mosque built by Shah Jahan. It was completed in 1656.

 

On a wing and a prayer... On one corner of the mosque is a small shrine. The caretakers showed us a hair said to be from the Propehet's beard. What were supposed to be his sandals and his footprint are also kept there. Legend has it these relics came to India with Timur The Lame. But, not everybody believes they are genuine.

On a wing and a prayer... On one corner of the mosque is a small shrine. The caretakers showed us a hair said to be from the Prophet's beard. There are also what are said to be his footprints and his sandals. It is said the relics were brought to India by Timur, The Lame. Not everybody believes they are genuine, though.

The grand mosque. Legend has it there is a mosque directly above this one in heaven.

The grand mosque. Legend has it there is a mosque directly above this one in heaven.

The minaret I climbed. A foot-wide spiral passageway leads to the top. One stream of vistors going up, another coming down. By the way, did I mention there were no lights?

The minaret I climbed. A foot-wide spiral passageway leads to the top. One stream of visitors going up, another coming down. By the way, did I mention there were no lights?

View from the top... The 'onion dome', the very cornerstone of Mughal architecture. Think Humayun's tomb, think Taj Mahal.

View from the top... The 'onion dome', the very cornerstone of Mughal architecture. Think Humayun's tomb, think Taj Mahal.

Yeh hai Dilli, meri jaan... Yet another legend has it that on the Day of Atonement, the Earth will perish in a flood that will start at this mosque.

Yeh hai Dilli, meri jaan... Yet another legend has it that on the Day of Atonement, the Earth will perish in a flood that will start at this mosque.

The tank where you wash before prayer.

The tank where you wash before prayer.

Delhi-dallying Part 1

Happened to be in Delhi for eight days.  While the evenings were spent bringing out editions, the daytimes were put to better use. Spent time at some of the magical sites that seem to dot the national capital.

While I have been to all of these before, this is the first time I spent so much time there. Managed to take a lot of photographs, which is what gave me the idea of putting up a pictorial for a blog this time. Hope you like it. More importantly, I hope I know how to upload the pictures properly (many of you know how tech-challenged I am).

Safdarjung’s tomb

Built in 1754, the tomb was the last resting place of the prime minister of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The arhcitecture is highly influenced by the design of Humayun's tomb.

Built in 1754, the tomb was the last resting place of the prime minister of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The architecture is highly influenced by the design of Humayun's tomb.

  

Red sandstone and artistry.

Red sandstone and artistry.

 
The 'char bagh' (four gardens) design, one of the characteristics of Mughal architecture. A garden in each direction, a water channel studded with fountains running down its axis.

The 'char bagh' (four gardens) design, one of the characteristics of Mughal architecture. A garden in each direction with a channel of water studded with fountains down the axis of each.

 

The mosque by the side.

The mosque by the side.

Dhoni-spotting

 

 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Aboard IC 809 to Delhi, August 8:

Guess who was with us on the flight – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The India one-day cricket captain was in Mumbai for a team selection meeting and was returning home.

 

 

 

 

My colleague, a cricket-hater with a cricket-mad son, went wide-eyed, saying: “I don’t like cricket, but I must get Dhoni’s autograph for my son.” I told her to just walk up to him on the flight and say hi.

 

She did so, returning to our seats with a huge grin. “He was so cool! He obliged without a fuss and even asked how to correctly spell my son’s name,” she gushed. Dhoni just got himself a new fan – a cricket-hater at that.

 

It struck me how much Dhoni actually symbolises the brave new India. A boy who grow up in the middle of nowhere (Ranchi, till recently, wasn’t a town most people would know of) to become one of India’s youth icons. And he never forgot where he came from, never lost his small-town courteousness.

 

People love him for various reasons – looks, achievement, etc. I’m quite taken up with him because of his attitude to cricket. It has a certain abandon, complete fearlessness and a bedrock of confidence that comes with not being afraid of failure. He’s also a superb man-manager, which for me is his greatest quality.

 

Some day, I’d like to interview him. Not now, because he’s on a high and what he says might be predictable. I’d like to ask him, at a time when he’s looking back on his career, to describe in detail what it was like as the last ball of Twenty20 world championship was bowled – the strategy, the emotion, what his young team said and what he felt as the ball looped off Misbah-ul-Haq’s bat and landed in the fielder’s hands.

 

I’ve always felt that at such times, when you know things will never be the same again, your life flashes before you – in a pleasant sort of way. I wonder whether that’s what he will say.