Dec 22, 2011

Dilli meri Dilli !

Delhi and I share a love hate relationship. I have lived here all my life but I never cease to complain about it. I crib about the long distances, the horrendous traffic, the increasing crudeness and brashness of its people but really I couldn’t be happy living anywhere except perhaps Chandigarh. And after a few days in Chandigarh I grow restless and start pining for Delhi.

This lovely city completes 100 years this year and I feel nostalgic enough to do a post on it! I have a whole mélange of memories of Delhi so instead of writing the usual post on Delhi’s history I am going to write about how Delhi has shaped me as an individual and what make this city so very special for me.

So here are few of my favorite things about Delhi -


The whole area stretching right from the Pandara Road Government Bungalows till the Rashtrapati Bhavan, taking in India Gate, the secretariat as well as the Connaught circus – that’s my favorite part of Delhi. The roads are broad and well laid out, the avenues neat and tree lined, and most of all the architecture is simply magnificent, something I can stand and marvel at again and again. To the mortification of the stiff upper lipped Brits I have even proclaimed that I like our Rashtrapati Bhavan better than their Buckingham palace!

Once, when I was a university student, on a whim a bunch of us decided to go to India gate one winter afternoon and spent the afternoon walking up and down Raisina Hill. The security was not so stringent in the 90s and the guards indulged us as we wandered about taking in the superb architecture of the parliament house and the North and South Blocks. It was February and the Mughal gardens had just opened to Public– we finished our day with a walk through the gardens - If you are even remotely interested in landscaping and flowers – The Mughal gardens in Delhi are something not to be missed at all!

Another favorite memory is watching the Beating the Retreat Ceremony at Vijay Chowk. I have never seen the Republic day celebrations live but have had the good fortune to watch the Beating the Retreat Ceremony twice.. To say it was awe inspiring is an understatement. The illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament complex in the background, the military bands, colorful and resplendent in their uniforms weaving magic not only with music but also with their fluid and graceful formations – That is an experience one rarely forgets! 

 Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU)

 JNU is something very very close to my heart. I spent five fantastic years doing my graduation and post graduation there and can rightfully say that they have been the best years of my life. JNU enriched my love for languages and linguistics and I am one of those rare breeds who actually enjoyed my academic years ! 

There is a lot I can write about JNU – The aesthetic brick buildings, the sprawling green campus– most of it still a forest, the occasional nilgai and the deer we could see from our class room windows, and the peacocks that invariably came out during the monsoons and danced for our benefit, the fantastic nine floored library that has the best collection of books I have seen till date ….

But what I loved the most was whole intellectual and cultural ambiance of the place. It was JNU that introduced me to the“ Jhola culture” and I took to it like a fish takes to water. The ethnic khadi kurtas over jeans, the juttis or kolhapuri chappals, the embroidered cloth bags from janpath– these form a trademark of those five years I have spent there and frankly my dress sense still has a lot of JNU in it ! It was at JNU that I first learnt the true meaning of “adda – baazi”. The socio-political debates and discussions that took place in its cafeterias or the on the lawns that could stretch for hours and hours. I enjoyed every bit of them! I loved the way we could persuade our teachers to take our classes in the green lawns on a sunny winter afternoon, I loved the street plays you could simply sit on the grass to watch, and I loved the posters that are an ever present part of JNU walls – so much so that it is said that it is the posters that keep the walls up!


 My childhood memories are of theater and music concerts, of going with my parents to see plays at the Sree Ram Center or kamani or at the National School of Drama. I had the good fortune to see plays like Andha yug, Asadh ka ek din, Ghasiraam kotwaal before I reached high school. Even today give me a good play over a movie any day! I also thoroughly enjoy the classical music and dance shows that take place in this city – be it in closed auditoriums or places like the Deer park, Lodhi Gardens or the Purana Quila. One of my favorite memories is sitting at Purana Quila in late evening and listening to Bhimsen Joshi as he weaved his magic.My parents inculcated the love of theater in me and Delhi helped me enrich it further !

The ethnic wear

 I really haven’t seen people any where else carry ethnic clothes with so much panache  as we do in Delhi. For lovers of ethnic clothes Delhi is heaven. The ethnic dupattas,kurtas, jackets, silver jewelry that we find here– I love it and flaunt it too !

The Open spaces and the greenery 

Inspite of the high rises and the unending construction, Delhi is still a very green city. From the tree lines roads in South Delhi to its various gardens you can find a dash of green everywhere.I have spent almost every summer morning of my childhood taking a morning walk in Lodhi Gardens where we would sometimes run into Khushwant Singh! Be it the open grounds at Purana Quila, Deer Park, Ridge or the garden of five senses, Delhi’s gardens are a delight especially in winter and spring.

 The book shops

I am sure every city has its share of good book shops but there are some in Delhi especially close to my heart. Connaught Place has the best bookshops in town and for a long time I made regular forays into CP simply because of its book shops. I later shifted allegiance to the bookshops in Khan market because they were closer to school and home. Sadly most of the book stores in Khan market have been taken over by foreign retail brands selling shoes and clothes and with that Khan market has lost most of its sheen!

The historic Monuments

Delhi has a rich history and its historic monuments are a delight to a history lover like me. Starting from the Red fort, Humayuns tomb and Purana Quila to the lesser known ruins at Mehrauli and Tuqlagabad fort I have spent many a day’s wandering amongst the ruins and clicking photographs.

 The “Melas”

So many of them ! The annual Surajkund mela, the dastakar mela, the Diwali mela at the Blind school and who can forget the annual Book Fair at Pragati Maidan – a pilgrimage all book lovers like me must make ! Delhi”s fairs have something for everyone!

So this is what make Delhi so special for me. And what makes this city  special for all you other Delhi - wallahs out there :)


  1. Hello from another Diehard Delhite! :)
    Nice, awesome list! Especially the university parts..So, hi from a junior, current DU student! :)

    I'd made my list a few months back -


    1. Ánh mắt lão già lộ ra một vẻ hiền lành mỉm cười, nhìn đồng tử kia, thần thái cực kỳ thanh thản.

      Ít lâu sau, đồng tử kia nhíu mũi, ngẩng đầu lên nhìn vào mắt lão già, lập tức chạy nhanh vài bước đến bên người lão già, thanh âm non nớt nói:

      - Ngươi rốt cuộc là ai?

      Lão già đặt chén trà xuống, xoa đầu đồng tử, cười nói:

      - Ngươi nói ta là ai, ta chính là người đó…

      Đồng tử đang muốn nói chuyện, lúc này một thanh âm nghiêm túc bỗng từ trong nhà truyền ra:
      dong tam mu lậu cho thuê nhà trọ cho thuê nhà trọ nhạc sàn cực mạnh tư vấn pháp luật qua điện thoại công ty luật ở hà nội số điện thoại tư vấn pháp luật dịch vụ thành lập doanh nghiệp
      - Hổ con, đừng quấn lấy gia gia ngươi nữa, điêu khắc đi!

      Theo thanh âm này, một người đàn ông trung niên vén tấm rèm từ trong nhà đi ra.

      Đồng tử không quay đầu lại mà hít sâu, nhìn chằm chằm lão già một lát rồi xoay người

  2. Vow, next time you have to show me 'Your' Delhi. Lovely read

  3. SO when do i come ot see all this of YOUR delhi..

    BEautiful I have had a love hate relation with delhi but I think i love it more .. I have so many beutiful memories of it going here and there everything :)


  4. @Preeti - welcome here and hi to another delhiite :P Did you know JNUites and Duites have a long standing rivarly :P
    I just went through yoru list and agree with everything specially the cultural belly and food :)

    @Piya - sure by all means !

    @Bikram - No problem aap aayo to sahi !

  5. It is not just the bookshops in Khan Market that have given way to shoe shops but wonderful ones like Bookworm and Crossword have closed down too. We only have shops selling bestsellers today in Delhi.

    Your love for Dilli shines through Ruchira. Loved the peep in :)

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  7. @zephyr - Thank you and welcome !
    Its sad isnt it - all the lovely bookshops closing down :(
    I loved both bookworm and crossword.

  8. You make me want to shift to Delhi as of NOW. I am dying to wander "amongst the ruins and clicking photographs". We must do that some day when my leg gets better!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Your love for the city comes through :) And ahhh... listening to Bhimsen Joshi in Purana Qila?! Wow.

  9. Thank you for sharing this information and Very good looking blog.very informative article.
    laxmi nagar restaurant, indian food,chinese food



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