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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Of Onions, Kings, and the Cities of Delhi

Anisha Shekhar Mukherji (conservational architect and author of books on the Red Fort and the Jantar Mantar) on the incoherent past and the often uninterested present of Delhi:

The city of Delhi sometimes reminds me of an onion, imperfectly taken apart - many layered, veined and maimed. The layers are not coherent or even tightly packed - scattered stray wisps forlornly curl at the edges in some corner, many centuries lie bunched together in another. Yet within them lie hidden vapours of many pasts, rising unbidden to sting you into an awareness of a different time.

Delhi has an extremely rich heritage, but ever changing hands from one disparate ruler to the next, it has never been one to linger on its past. Yet ignored as they may be, some traces do remain; faintly in the city’s culture but very visibly in its monuments.

An ordinary man, covering many kilometres in suffocatingly crowded public transport, does not retain the will to perceive former Delhis, smothered in the pursuit of the Delhi of today.

Which is a pity and ultimately, a great loss. Why not “[integrate] these former Delhis into the Delhi of today”, urges Anisha, while suggesting a plan for just such a process.

(via Dilli Dallying)

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