(Illustration by Jayanto Banerjee)
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The making of the cover story
Delhi. A city with many histories, many cultures. A city that has spawned a million talents. A city that we know like the back of our hands. Or so we thought.
We set out to explore the city beyond its obvious (but wonderful) attractions. We found some secrets: curious places hidden in plain sight and things to do that few know about. And so, after weeks of walking all over the Capital asking for directions on the way, we’ve put together an eclectic list of quintessentially Delhi experiences in our beloved shehar.
As for the cover, we knew we had to shoot it at Agrasen Ki Baoli, the architectural wonder surrounded by the high rises of Connaught Place. This hidden step-well – believed to have been built during the time of the Mahabharat by Raja Agrasen, and then rebuilt in the 14th century – is one of Delhi’s better-known "secrets". Rather, was. It’s now famous because it’s where Aamir Khan lived in PK.
We invited people who reflected the spirit of the city. It had to be those who called Delhi home, or those who had claimed it as their own. It had to be the Dilliwallahs we’re proud of:
"The one place that I really find interesting is the Rajon Ki Baoli in Mehrauli, which you enter from the Jamali Kamali tomb. It’s fabulous, but not many people go there. It would be great if it was developed as a performance space. The dance festival Ananya, that Sahej does every year at Purana Quila, is also very interesting because it is set against the backdrop of the fort."
"I love to have tea in one of the tiny galis off Kinari Bazaar in Old Delhi. Another special place there is Gali Kazanchi in Dariba Kalan. At its far end is what remains of Haveli Kazanchi, where Shah Jahan’s accountants lived! There’s a tunnel too, connecting the haveli to the Red Fort, along which, presumably, imperial fortunes were conveyed."
"Dzükou Tribal Kitchen (Hauz Khas) and Gharua Exaj (Lajpat Nagar-4) are two North East eateries, which are hidden gems. The first serves homestyle Naga food with home-brewed rice beer; the latter has Assamese food, with some good vegetarian dishes like aloo pitika (mashed potatoes) and fried brinjal."
"So many cultural events in the city are still little-known outside the respective circles. The Urs festival, held on February 5 at the Dargah of Inayat Khan, is a lovely multi-faith offering of music, dance and poetry. And Shadaj, a music heritage society, has been organising baithaks (previously in people’s homes, now at the Mantra Amaltas hotel in Friends Colony) for 15 years now."
"The shrines of the great Sufi saints Hazrat Amir Khusro and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, though well-known, are still my favourite places to visit when I’m in the city. Also, there are so many open air concerts at great settings happening all year round that not many people know about.
"I love the lovely green trails in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, where I go for walks sometimes. Another such place is the Asola Sanctuary, near Tughlaqabad. Beside a nature trail, the sanctuary also has a few freshwater lakes. They’re so pristine and the green cover here too is amazing!"
It was quite something, to spend a cold Monday morning with musicians, a writer, a photographer, a sportsperson and a theatre personality who, for their part, were so very excited to be part of what makes this city ‘Delhi’.
Also read: The 2015 bucket list for Mumbaikars
From HT Brunch, January 11, 2015
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