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Delhiwale: Doors of Perception

Quaint and fascinating, these iconic doorways leave you with haunting memories and unanswered questions

delhi Updated: Aug 01, 2017 18:10 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
A doorway in Old Delhi’s Bulbuli Khana.
A doorway in Old Delhi’s Bulbuli Khana. (Mayank Austen Soofi )

The wooden frame is carved in a series of geometrical patterns. An arch is built over the top. The walls are of lakhori bricks. The only odd element is a modern doorbell. Nobody, however, seems to have used the bell lately, for it is covered in layers of cobweb.

This is a mere doorway in Old Delhi’s Bulbuli Khana, but so extraordinarily beautiful that it stands out as a work of art even in its dilapidated state.

The grocer nearby says that the doorway is more than a hundred years old and was the entrance to a haveli.

The haveli no longer exists.

Occasional visitors to the forlorn tomb of empress Razia Sultan, just around the corner, have to go past this doorway, and a few do stop to admire it — we have occasionally seen its pictures in Instagram feeds.

The doorway stands on a stone plinth and is directly opposite a garbage facility across the street. This strange proximity adds poignancy to its melancholic beauty.

One cannot help but wonder about the doorway’s former life. Who would be the people entering and leaving it? What dresses would they be wearing? How was the haveli inside? What kinds of carpets were there? Were there chandeliers?

We shall never know these answers.

The doorway remains locked during the day. A black cat often sits outside as if she is a guard. One morning, however, we found the door open. A staircase led us to a room on the upper floor. It turned out to be the makeshift home of daily-wage labourers from Bihar. They were getting ready to start the day.

The Walled City has many of such beautiful — if decrepit — doorways. Though not many may reach the gorgeousness of the one on Bulbuli Khana, each one of them is infused with an intense individuality and tells us of a world that once was and will never be again.

A doorway at Turkman Gate Bazaar.
Near Gali Suiwallan
At Gali Chooriwallan