Wednesday, May 06, 2009

City Guide – Hauz Khas, Near Green Park

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Romancing in the ruins

Romancing in the ruins.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Monuments have their uses. Being old, they add depth to the character of complicated, rapidly modernizing cities. The other afternoon, a hot Delhi afternoon, I went to Hauz Khas ruins hoping to understand how this city is coping with its ancient past.

While entering the 14th century Hauz Khas monument complex, I first had to make my way through Hauz Khas Village, both said to be equally old. Now this hamlet is not your average Mahipalpur or Kotla Mubarakpur. Instead, this is Tourism Ministry's ideal Incredible India where buffaloes, BMWs, imported cigarettes, hookahs, half-naked models, veiled village belles, mud hovels, glass-paneled designer studious co-exist harmoniously.

It wasn't always like that. Earlier there were just veiled belles, buffaloes and mud hovels. Then in 1988, Bina Ramani, Delhi's one-time society queen, set up a boutique here. In no time, every who's who in town worth her eyeliner was drawn towards this sleepy village. Hauz Khas acquired a classy, ethnic reputation. The New York Times correspondent Barbara Crosette called it "the national capital of ethnic chic."

Hauz Khas's appeal has admittedly paled since then but still it remains an elite shopping destination, especially if you want to buy antique reproductions. Talking of which reminds me of real antiques, the ruins.

Inside the well-tended compound, standing in front of chattris, domes, tombs, and a large lake, I didn't feel the need of a Lonely Planet or a Lucy Peck. I knew the story of these stones. Allaudin Khilji built a water reservoir here for Delhiwallas that later filled up with silt. It was re-excavated by another king called Firuz Shah Tughlaq whose grave found its home in this complex itself. He also commissioned a multi-storied madrassa to be built next to the reservoir.

But leave Khiljis and Tughlaqs to history students. As I tiptoed inside the dark chambers and halls of the madrassa, I found the corners teeming with loners, friends and lovers. Most were lovers. Those whom I talked to had no idea of Hauz Khas's history and they didn't care. What mattered was that the place was secluded and there were remote chances of parents catching them 'red-handed'. I met two smokers from Karol Bagh, a giggling couple from Jamia Millia Islamia University, a love-struck pair from a Ghaziabad engineering college, two lovers from Shahdara followed by yet another couple and one more couple and a couple again and then also a couple and a couple too and yes one more couple and no, I'm not exaggerating.

To serious-minded monument-junkies, it must be traumatic to see such a large-scale invasion of 'couples', a specie who hardly appreciate the worth of such historical touch-me-nots. But the unexpected way these stone structures of the past have reached out to the new generation is too amazing to be sneered at.

Think about it.

In a time when every sentiment is commercialized by advertising agencies, where love is just a Gmail chat away, where discounted nirvana is available in air-conditioned malls, imagine there are still a few young people left in Delhi who brave the heat and the city's long distances to seek romantic refuge in ruins. Incredible.

[For another perspective on Hauz Khas by The Delhi Walla, click here]

Where Hauz Khas Village, near Green Park market Time Sunrise to sunset Entry Free

The Ruins

Shadow Plays

School bunking

School Bunking

Loner

Loner

Love bird

Bird Watching

Friends together

Yaari Dosti

Window shopping, Hauz Khas

Window Shopping

The village life

Rural Scene

Tomb tourism

Romancing in the Ruins

Another loner

What is Life

The milkman, Hauz Khas Village

Rural Scene

Two together

Yaari Dosti

Any soul inside?

Romancing in the Ruins

Dream home

Romancing in the Ruins

Two together

Romancing in the ruins

Model types

Model Types

Sutta buddies

Sutta Buddies

Bloom time

Two Views

Waiting

Waiting?

The tomb raider

Tomb-like Quiet

Shopping corner, Hauz Khas Village

Shooping Collectibles in Delhi

The tree of Hauz Khas

Green Wonder

Soo soo

Romancing in the Ruins

Monuments are fun

Romancing in the ruins

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really lovethese photos. In fact, I love your photos much more than your writing.

Prasenjit

Anonymous said...

I like your blog a lot. It reminds me of what I like about Delhi. Sometimes I long to travel back in town and witness the development of Delhi over the centuries. It must have been so fascinating! Thanks for sharing these picture.

Sonia

Thorny Wines Of Words ~k~ said...

wait..i LIVE in south delhi..though i'll admit that what i hate the most is that i live in delhi n yet havnt seen 90% of it...n wanna go n explore about..but hey how come i'm never able to find all this?...
i'm in greenpark every other day...but i didn't find this place!...
on my way i cross that aurobindo complex...then a small romb in btwn...i see the old walls..but don't know where to approach it from!...
and is this place..u know..safe to go alone?..

Anonymous said...

So finally you covered it too......Its a great place by the way...I have been studying there for nearly 3 years...the village is an art hub in itself. I just love the location of the monument...almost 2 kms from the main road.....deep inside....totally at peace...

Reeta Skeeter said...

:-)

Snobster said...

We even had a friend's birthday party there,with complete cake and the guy selling chips close by ripped us off.

Radhika Raheja said...

Hi Mayank

Nice blog. I felt your writing was fresher in this one. Keep up the good work...

Anonymous said...

This line made me laugh - "every who's who in town worth her eyeliner".

Anyway, I recall going there to sketch while preparing for NIFT entrance.

Ibanov, Sir Rekaf said...

Overpriced pseudo-artsy marketplace and loads of ignorant lovers - two reasons strong enough for me to have kept away from this place for over 22 years in spite of staying very close by.

I'll go visit it some time though - if only for the ruins.

Anonymous said...

'Poetry in stone' kinda place :-)

mansa said...

hhhhhmmmmm.............well i came across ur blog wile lukin 4 pics 4 my learning diary in fs.......courtsy nift...........and whoa i gt evrthng i wntd all 2gthr........and u kno wat d place is so fascinating dat although v went d4ere many tyms 4 our wrk........each tym v jst had a picnic sorta thng and came bak......so nw thanx a lot