Saturday, September 05, 2009

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

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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City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

In the dead poet’s society.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Are you aware that the heartbeat of many Uzbekis, many Afghanis lay here in Delhi? To be precise: in a garden, next to the National Sports Club of India. To be exact: in the tomb of Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil… Bedil?

Who’s he?

A 17th century Persian poet of Delhi, Bedil was the inspiration of Mirza Ghalib, the ‘complete guru’ of Muhamamd Iqbal, the beloved poet of Ahmad Shah Masood. Today he enjoys a cult following in parts of Central Asia.

There are diehard Bedil fans in Samarkand. Bedil’s poetries are recited in the chai khanas of Bukhara. Bedil is passionately argued upon in Dushanbe streets. And in Delhi, Bedil lies dead.

At the entrance, his name on the signboard is partially hidden by Peepal leaves. Inside, a paved pathway, tagging along the forest-ey terrain, reaches a pair of stairs, and ends at an elevation. Here the ground is carpeted with grass, the trees are tall and bent, and several unknown tombs are draped with colourful chaadars.

The earth was sodden when I was there. It had rained the night before. The morning rays were streaming in through the thick branches. The scene was spectacular, completely unlike Bedil’s tomb-chamber. Painted in green and white, it must have been designed by some bored DDA architect with no passion for any poetry, high or low. In fact this structure, exposed to elements on all sides, was last renovated in 2006 when the visiting Tajik president desired to visit the poet’s grave.

The Delhi Walla is not aware of any other state visit. Save its caretaker and occasional visitors, Bedil, born in Bihar but ethnically an Uzbek, lie alone amongst trees, tombs, and bushes. Perhaps it’s an ideal resting place for a poet. The landscape is melancholic, untamed, abandoned, unworldly. Just like one of Bedil’s abstract verses - the words are there, but their meaning elusive.

Like a poem that touches the soul without disturbing the worldly trappings around it, Bagh-e-Bedil is in the heart of Delhi, yet aloof.

You must come here even if you don’t know your Bedil, or Ghalib, or even Shakespeare. In our big-city English-speaking lives, it's tough to find time to learn Persian, understand its nuances and then swoon over its literature. But surely you could spend a morning in this garden to soak in some of the essence that makes up Bedil. For being here is as if you are reading a much-loved sentimental novel. It is like someone whispering, “Sweetie, you're not the first one. Tomorrow, or the day after, there would be standing someone else, under this tree, next to this tomb, experiencing the same emotion.”

Where Next to the National Sports Club of India, Mathura Road Best Time Mornings

Hidden by leaves

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

Here is Bedil

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

Wild is the country

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

Can you see the poetry?

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

Who was he?

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan

Who were they?


Remembering Bedil

City Landmark – Bagh-e-Bedil, Opposite Pragiti Maidan


heena said...

'Bagh-e-bedil'...the name itself is ironic!
Looks a relaxing serene place.

Saifullah Badar said...

Thanks for bringing out such unknown gems... will visit sometime soon!

Anonymous said...

What’s your motive behind this immense enthrallment and love for Islam and everything related to it? You depict and portray Delhi as a city of and for Muslims ONLY.
You won’t find a single Muslim so mesmerized by Hinduism and its followers; instead Muslims shun anything to do with us ‘pagans/infidels/kafirs/mushriks etc. Muslims are also known for their specific disdain for the 'idolatrous' Hindus and it is a vicious circle of a never ending hatred from generation to generation.

I wonder whom you are trying to please with this blog.

Rajiv said...

hahaha M not aware of anything in delhi,ab lagta hai aise yaar

ab words hi nahi hain likhne ko for U.
GHALIB ke baad lagta hai ki delhi ki galliyon ka tujhe hi pata hai ,bhaiiiiii:)


Astraeus said...

this is an awesome blog
i have been following it for quite sometime now


heena said...

@ anonymous
you sound deeply prejudiced!

vimesh said...

If you can’t smell the fragrance
Don’t come into the garden of Love.
If you’re unwilling to undress
Don’t enter into the stream of Truth.
Stay where you are.
Don’t come our way.


so this few lines by Hazarat Rumi explains everything to all :) :)

Nuktacheen said...

I remember reading an article by Saeed Naqvi in Outlook Delhi-City Limits on the grave of Bedil.He had,in that article described Bedil as a great poet and after whom Ghalib had moulded hid style.In one of Ghalib's rare acknowledgement of other great poets,he said:

Tarz-e-Bedil mein rekhta kahna
Asadullah Khan Qayamat hai

It is sure that his fame and art are known and revered through out the world.But,the existence of his grave in the middle of Delhi is a doubtful possibility.This is an old debate about the possibility of this not quite being the actual site of Bedil's grave.Professor Naim of Chicago University had argued:
"Bedil is said to have had his own grave already prepared in the house where he lived. He was buried in it. The house was outside the Delhi Gate of what was then called Shahjahanabad or the New City, in an area called Khekariyan. Quite close to the river. A big annual urs even continued to be held there for at least forty years... The last mention of the grave dates to 1788 (?) when the poet Mushafi wrote that Bedil was buried in his house but now alas there is no sign left of the house or the grave."

Another historian Prof. Nayanjot Lahiri wrote:
"Volume 2 of Maulvi Zafar Hasan's 'Monuments of Delhi - Delhi Zail' describes it as an unknown tomb (p. 55, No. 88). Also, that volume mentions that 'there is no trace of any grave within' -- whereas today, there is a grave! The relevant INTACH volume entitled 'Delhi: The Built Heritage' (p. 205, volume 1) describes it as a late Mughal dargah but does not mention Bedil. This was published in 1999, it is logical to therefore assume that the identity of the tomb was only ascertained after that date. From enquiries that I made with the person who cleans the tomb, it seems that the inscribed slab that is high above the northern wall there was put up a couple of years ago."
It is to be noted that the slab mention by Prof. Lahiri was put up in 2006 when Emomali Rahmanov, the Tajikistan President,was going to visit the tomb.
And the wikipedia entry further confounds us by stating that the tomb might have been shifted to Khwaja Rawash.
so,what the truth is we might never know.

Rajiv said...

wala i went to book fair nd visited matke wali mazaar but wahaan se biryani nahi mili coz un ko order pehle book krana parta hai nd m a HINDU yaar so wahaan ka jyada nahi pata >may b soofi ke saath bhi aisa ho yaar>but i think v awl r human or dilli wale first
aage sab ki marzi bhai
but i really enjoy his blogs

Kaushik Chatterji said...

Okay, yet another entry into my "to visit" list thanks to you! :D

Smokin Joe said...

Nice post man.. One thing I notice on most of your post about the city is the tilting towards Islam aur the Sufi side of it atleast.

Well, No offences, Personal opinion only, The city has a lot more to offer than abandoned sufi shrines.

I would love to see the next post being on a abandoned Hindu Temple. Well after reading this I may be called a Pagan but to be a true delhi walla you have to exxplore all sides of the city man,

Which Main? What Cross? said...

Check out a book named 'Jal Yatra' by Nitya Jacob. It's got a chapter about the traditional water systems of Delhi before the British period. And there are a several hidden treasures like this one you have written about mentioned there. Worth a read.

Anonymous said...

@ heena
talk about yourself and your community.