May 27, 2007


This is what religion (cult, sect, art of living, whatever) is dera sacha sauda ishtyle...!

Ensconced comfortably in their
cushiony seats,
Dressed in bright saffron and whites,
They deliver soothing lectures,
Sermonizing on the listeners’ plights.

Enthroned high up on a stage,
They move leisurely from page to page,
Coolers hiss and fans roar,
Outside the pandal, the heat soars.

Below in front the devotees sit,
Squirming under the sun’s glare,
Holding on to every word,
Forcing their eyes to blankly stare.

Dressed in finest cotton and silk,
Gurujis pity the commoners’ ilk,
Delivering prophecies on karma and devotion,
They promise to guide us towards salvation.

Hope seeps in every pore,
Enlightenment makes our spirit soar,
The fifty rupee note tucked in the pocket,
Gladly moves for the stage floor.

May 26, 2007

On Living Without You

I don't care
You are no more
But the throbbing
in my heart grows.

Welled up eyes
Daring me to smile
The bile caught in
my choked throat, killing me

My leaden chest,
is braving up,
to forget your name.
I try and leave myself bare
Now that you are no more,
Why should I care ?

But I still want to live
The years of dull ache
would take their toll
Old wound running sore
But why should I care ?
You are no more.

May 21, 2007

The Red Fort

Hmmm…So the Mughal thought that the Old Fort was cursed and hence built a new fort and shifted there. And this brand new fort later came to be known as the Red Fort or the Lal Qila.
Okay… with the tour of the Old Fort over, even we shifted our gears and headed for the Red Fort, and, navigating the mad rush of Chandni Chowk, finally found ourselves marveling the colossal structure that stood before us. Some books say that Shah Jahan built the Red Fort in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign and to provide him with ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests. Now whatever reason the Mughals had for building this Fort, they definitely did a good job of showcasing their architectural ambitions.

The largest of old Delhi monuments, the Palace complex of the Red Fort is counted amongst the best example of Mughal architecture. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan started the construction of the massive fort in 1638, and the work was completed in 1648. The fort, also known as the Qila Mubarak, was grand, rich and magnificent - as befitted the castle, which was to be the capital of one of the world’s wealthiest empires. It is said that the construction of this fort took about one crore rupees, an astronomical sum in those days, and about half of this sum was spent to build the exotic palace pavilions inside the fort!

This majestic fort has the obvious trappings befitting a vital center of Mughal government. And without doubt, even today the fort remains an impressive testimony to Mughal grandeur, despite being attacked by the Persian ruler, Nadir Shah in 1739, and by the soldiers of the British army during the First War of Independence in 1857. In fact, after the First War of Independence, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the British Army occupied and demolished many of the Fort’s beautiful pavilions and gardens, and used the area to build massive barracks for soldiers. It was only in 1903 that a program for restoring the ruined parts of the Fort was taken earnestly.
It is said that at one point, more than 3000 people lived inside the fort complex. But during the First War of Independence, the fort was captured by Britain and was made the headquarters of the British Indian Army. After India gained independence in 1947, the Indian Army took control over the fort. In December 2003, the Indian Army handed over the fort to the tourism authorities. Now the Archaeological Survey of India maintains the fort complex.

Historically speaking, this monument has had its fair share of ups and downs. It was from here that the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of three century long Mughal rule in India. It is also from here that the prime ministers of India deliver their annual Independence Day speeches. Even today, the Red Fort remains a splendid reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and the peace and tranquility within its walls leaves one transported to another realm of existence. It is indeed, a permanent abode of peace, a haven which helps one to break away from the frenzied pace of life outside its peripheral walls.

May 16, 2007

The Old Fort

It was supposed to be a literary trip, full of known and lesser known facts and musings about a famous monument, or so we thought, but with every nook and corner of the magnificent Old Fort (Purana Quila) playing host to lovelorn or rather lustlorn couples, the trip turned out to be quite an eclectic mix of history, adventure, and mixed architecture, with a rather generous dash of present day romance thrown in.

The Delhi Diary had been long overdue in our unplanned travel itinerary, so when the plan finally hit the road, we thought that why not start off with the Old Fort, one of the most magnificent and oldest monuments in Delhi.

So armed with a sense of achievement at finally setting out on our wanderlust mission, we arrived at the Old Fort, on a positively cloudy day. I say "positively cloudy" because there are days when an overcast sky paints a very gloomy picture and gives us a sense of foreboding...But here was a day, which was cloudy in a very romantic way, with light drizzle welcoming you to explore the world...and the serenity of the fort quite overwhelming us and adding to the mystic charm of the landscape.

On approaching the Old Fort from the western side, the huge Bara Darwaza welcomes you with its stoic presence, giving nothing away of the huge architectural treasure inside, and revealing nothing of the imposing personality of the fort it guards. The Old Fort has three gates – Humayun Darwaza, Talaqi Darwaza and the Bada Darwaza – but now only the Bara Darwaza is used as the functional entrance to this massive monument. All these gates are double storeyed and in their heydays sported intricately designed domes. The fourth side of the fort was well guarded by a moat linked to the river Yamuna. The moat still exists, and runs along the huge expanse of the fort.

Once inside, the first thing that captures your eyes is the huge expanse of greenery - well grafted lawns, beautifully maintained flower beds and rows of lovely palms…. leaving us mesmerized, the serenity of the place unknowingly starts permeating us. The welcoming and enchanting environs encourage us to take out our cameras, and a flurry clicks follow. There are the beautiful peripheral walls to be captured, the lovely flowerbeds, and the ancient looking peepal tree and what not. But even in all this excitement of framing the world around you, serenity still lingers around…. tugging at us, reminding us of its presence.It is widely believed that the Pandavas (the famed warriors from the Mahabharata) had built their capital, Indraprastha at the place where the Old Fort stands today.

Situated towards the south of Delhi, this imposing fort was built in the 16th century, by King Sher Shah Suri, the founder of Sur Dynasty. In about 1539-40, Sher Shah Suri defeated his archrival, Mughal emperor Humayun, in two consecutive battles and captured two Mughal strongholds - Delhi and Agra. After setting up his reign, Shah Suri started constructing this enormous citadel to defend his most prized possession, Delhi, from the Mughals. Though the fort did not see any major battle event, its very existence kept the Mughals away from invading Delhi until 1545 when Sher Shah Suri died. And after his death, with the help of Persians, Humayun was able to re-capture Delhi and Agra. He then took upon himself the task of completing the construction of the Old Fort.
All the while we marveled at the amazing architecture of the place, the lovebirds completely ignored us and seemed determined to make the most of the time at hand. And then we chanced upon a beautiful inscription on a plaque, and probably this justified why there was love in the air, in a fort as colossal as this ---
The inscription read – “As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented, and people are happy in it.”

Inspiring.... Isn’t it? So soaking in the architectural grandeur of the Qila-i-Kunha Masjid, we move on to the right southern side of the fort, wherein stands the Sher Mandal. History says that Sher Shah Suri built the Sher Mandal as a pleasure tower. It is an octagonal building made up of red sandstone. This two-storeyed structure has steep steps leading up to the roof. It is said that more storeys were supposed to be added to the Sher Mandal, but the idea was dropped due Sher Shah Suri’s death. Later, when Humayun recaptured Delhi, he converted the Sher Mndal into his library and observatory Some Mughal documents indicate that it was while descending the stairs of this tower one day in 1556 that Humayun fell and received injuries from which he later died. Rumours exist that after his death, the Mughals considering the fort to be cursed, vacated the structure and built their capital in a new fort, which later came to be known as the Lal Qila, or the Red Fort.

A leisurely walk around the peripheral walls of the fort finally brings to the building houses the archeological museum. The exhibits here comprise exhibits unearthed during excavations and dating back to the days of the Mughals, Sultans, Rajputs, Guptas, Kushan and Mauryas. The excavations here also revealed pieces of painted grey ware dating back to about 1000 BC, and is said to be related to Mahabharata, which confirm the beliefs that the Old Fort was built on the site of Indraprastha. The relics found here range from the Mauryan to early Mughal period such as Northern Black Polished Ware, punch-marked coins, human and animal terracotta figurines and inscribed terracotta seals.
Soaked in the stories of grand architectural and archaeological heritage of our country, we head back into the chaos of the city…. walking across the sprawling grounds of the mighty fort, with the many dramas staged here, silently playing out in our minds…. The distant echo of many a marching king and generals reverberating in our ears…With the drizzly weather still pleasantly egging us into joining the mad fray of city, we bid adieu to the serenity of the fort…And as the noble thought on the masjid proclaimed, 'As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented, and people be happy in it’, even we wish happiness for the world and its people, but more so for the couples inside! May they keep frequenting this edifice, and keep discovering moments of pure bliss, that is till their parents find out!


Agony tears my body and soul,
My spirit in shreds I live.
With chains holding me back,
Incessant echoes of demanding commands,
Do this, don't do this, you fool, oh idiot -
Cry, laugh, apologize, now smile
Be a good girl, woman and wife
But I want to live, I want my life.

I want to abandon the race,
But what is the running for ?
Surviving, pitching forward,
a race I am bound to loose.
Longing to be myself again,
Pleading, praying to win the race
I want my life, I want my face.

Want to wear purple, blue and pink
Orange pants and beautiful mink,
Pastel mauve, silver and reds -
Tear away the uniform to shreds!
Live life and enjoy the sun,
Sing, dance, play and run,
Days away from tension and strife,
I want to live, but I want my life.