A city is not defined by the boundaries on the map. Old Delhi’s true essence just doesn’t lie in the architectural monuments or symbols but in the smile of the young girl, the morning prayers or in the warm sunlight reflecting on the marble dome of Jama Masjid. Chandni Chowk is the chaos in the narrow lanes, glistening lights, exotic spices, dried fruits, brass ornaments, aromatic oils, hustle-bustle of the bazaar and multifarious coloured sarees: a complex mesh of visual arts.
Chandni Chowk is a window to the past – the old city of Shahjahanabad, its Herculean discourses and shenanigans, though the essence and charm still remain intact. Walking into the labyrinth of ancient walls, one feels the clock reverse at the Urdu Bazaar near Jama Masjid. These rusty lanes filled with the aroma of parathas, Kesar kulfi further moving towards kebabs and firnis are a foodie’s dream-come-true destination! Moving away from the pandemonium of the bazaar, we see how the city is a physical manifestation of oriental paracosm which unfolds a transcendental journey within us.
Afternoons spent at the Red Fort in the heart of the city is how I define peace. Looking at these marble marvels and tasting the flavour of royalty in the air is a snack for the heart. The sunlight breaking through the tiny gaps in dense trees or small windows which open to a lush green garden fills my heart with little visceral joys. The melody of the birds singing around as you stroll in this hidden treasure, one can’t help but feel a part of urban lore.
Capturing life and the sublime architecture at this vivid intersection of modernity and history, we realise the essence lies in the mundane moments that define our daily lives. Experiencing a cosmic language which strings together emotion and art – cultural guanxi.
These photographs capture the nostalgia and the art I see in the heart of Old Delhi, or atleast glorious snippets of it.
Image Credits: Falguni Chaudhary