Sunday, 19 July 2015

Places to visit in Delhi: Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli

I have been to the Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi a few times over the years but this is the first opportunity I had to visit Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli in Ballimaran. Unfortunately very few Delhites are aware of Ghalib ki Haveli. Or they don’t care. The indifference to the cultural past is amazing. 

The arched entrance to Mirza Ghalib's Haveli

Mirza Ghalib is arguably the best known poet in Urdu and Persian that Delhi (and arguably again India) has produced. I was part of a photo-walk in the lanes of Chandni Chowk. Mirza Ghalib lived in this Haveli (though Haveli normally is supposed to be a grand structure this place is not big). Before Delhi government took over, the house was in poor condition and it was actually being used as a coal dump. 

The bust of Mirza Ghalib along with his poems

Now the place has been finally converted into a museum. The locals in Ballimaran are proud of their heritage. Ask anyone there the way to ‘Ghalib ki Haveli’ and their eyes light up in pride. “Ghalib Mia ko hamara aadab kahie ga!” (please greet Ghalib on our behalf) said a shopkeeper to us in chaste Urdu when we asked for directions.

The roof is not part of the original Haveli

The museum displays some of the poet’s handwritten poems, portraits and also a bust of Mirza Ghalib. He stayed in the Haveli from 1860 till his death in 1869. The Haveli has been aesthetically renovated even if it is surrounded by commercial enterprises on all sides. Old tiles are clearly visible. It is not the complete haveli but only a part of it. One must remember that India is not Europe. It does not have a tradition of converting houses of great poets and writers into museums. We spend a lot of tax-payers money and precious space in the capital of India on building and maintaining ugly samadhis (memorial) of politicians. This structure is an exception to the rule and we should be grateful that it exists at all. The house has undeniably the aura of the medieval period. You get goose pimples standing in the Haveli where the great poet of the melancholy once walked. 

The walls are adorned with Ghalib's writings & in one room it seems like he is writing his poems

Several of his poems have been further immortalised by the Bollywood as film songs. Couple of his poems that I remember are-
Hazaroon Khawhishen aisi ki har khawhish pe dum nikle
Bahut nikley mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle...

And another one-
Yeh na thi hamaari kismet ke wisaale yaar hota
Agar aur jeete rahte yahin intezaar hota...


With the portrait of Ghalib

How to reach: Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli is open on all days except Mondays and public holidays from 11 AM to 6 PM and the entry is free. Located in Gali Kasim Jaan in the Ballimaran area of Old Delhi one can reach it by alighting at the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and either walk (10-15 minutes) or take a rickshaw. Taking the metro is advisable at it frees you from the hassle of parking in this congested area but if you do want to go by car then park it near the Red Fort and then take a rickshaw from there.

Also read:
Places to Visit in Delhi: Humayun Tomb
Places to visit in Delhi: The Isa Khan’s Garden Tomb
Places to visit in Delhi: Ugrasen ki Baoli
The Changing Moods of Hauz Khas Lake

1 comment:

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