Delhi,  North India,  Travel,  Uncategorized

Ghalib Ki Haveli – Lost in the Bylanes of Purani Dilli

Day 7 (G) ~ #BlogchatterA2Z challenge

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“na tha kuchch to Khuda tha, kuchch na hota to Khuda hota

duboya mujhko honi ne, na hota main to kya hota?”

Of all the cities that I have lived in, none have fascinated me as much as Purani Dilli. And, once wandering in the by-lanes of Purani Dilli, I came across the house of Mirza Ghalib. As I walked through the haveli, it seemed almost unreal that the legendary poet had once lived in this very space; maybe even penned down several of his couplets here.

Is there any traces of that magical aura left here? Will his spirit speak to me, if I sit for a while, really silently?

Mirza Ghalib’s haveli is located in Gali Qasim Jan of Ballimaran. It is said that the haveli was gifted to him by a hakim who was his biggest fan. When Galib died, the Hakim would sit for hours in the haveli in mourning. Over time the haveli passed through many hands, its significance forgotten. It has been used as a coal storage space, leather and plastic manufacturing space, vegetable shop, and even an electric repair shop! Finally, heritage activist Firoz Bakht Ahmed and advocate M Atyab Siddiqui, through an NGO Friends of Education, filed a PIL to restore this heritage site.  In 1999, Archaeological Survey of India took over portions of the ground floor and converted it into a heritage museum – “Ghalib ki Haveli.” The museum was inaugurated in December 27, 2000 on Ghalib’s birth anniversary.

The haveli was built using Lakhori or Badhahi bricks,  popular element of Mughal architecture during Shah Jahan era. These slim, reddish, burnt-clay bricks were easy to shape into the delicate arches, jharokhas, and chhajja popular during that time. The 2 room museum now houses a bust of Ghalib (donated by Gulzar), some books, photographs, some of Ghalib’s personal belongings, and Mughal-era utensils. A few handwritten scrolls with Ghalib’s couplets are framed and hung near the entrance.

Mr. Ahmed’s work was not over though. While on an evening stroll, he noticed that a marriage celebration was taking place inside the museum. He alerted the police and notified Times of India. After much furore, now there is a more stringent security at the site.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed has lived in Purani Dilli. The homes and graves of these great poets and writers are sacrosanct to him and he has spent much time on getting them restored.

If you ever happen to be in Delhi, do take some time out to visit this historical place, where one of the greatest poets of our country lived and created quite possibly an undying quantum of work that never ceases to amaze the old and young …

Ik roz apni rooh se poocha, ke dilli kya hai.

To yun Jawab me keh gayi,

Ye duniya maano jism hai aur dilli uski jaan

-Mirza Ghalib

One day I asked my soul, what is Delhi and it replied- if the universe is the body then Delhi is its soul.

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