An aerial view shows the sprawling Lodhi Garden: it can make any other city go green with envy; and it can, at the same time, make a Delhiite proud of his/her green lung.
Possibly one of the oldest photographs (dated 1858), it shows Shahajahanabad when parts of it were not razed down (first for security reasons and then for the railways, which tore apart the old-style living quarters).
And then there is a photograph showing the holy cows walking on the tram tracks (yes, trams once plied in Old Delhi) “with the nonchalance common to all Indian cows at all times.”
This is not your regular exhibition of stereotypical photographs showcasing the changing face of the Capital of India. On display at Connaught Place’s Central Park are 40 panels, all chronicling how Delhi epitomises the simultaneous existence of the old and the modern.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see all these photos. I have actually seen these old places and also seen them changing,” said 70-plus Ram Singh, who had strayed into the Central Park by chance on Tuesday.
“I first dismissed the I Love Delhi slogan as a typical sarkari campaign but after going through all the photographs I feel this is the best way to introduce youngsters to the city’s rich past. They hardly have time to scan the history books,” he added.
Ram Singh, who had come to Delhi during the Partition, went back home carrying oodles of nostalgia with him.
Appreciating the collection, two old buddies Yashwant Singh and Giri Raj said, “Good to see photos of places like the inside of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which we are unlikely to visit anytime.”
Jaiprakash Dixit, who came here to work for ICICI a little more than a year ago, felt that the old photographs offered him a “different insight” into the city. “An exhibition like this is so informative, especially for people like me who have come here from outside,” he pointed out.
After seeing the many photos showing near-empty roads then, Satyendra Singh, a young army personnel, said, “I feel old was better, the city is getting crowded too much. Many like me will feel that the surging population has made old Delhi-walas more intolerant.”
But, finally, his comment that springs from an optimistic outlook sums up the exhibition. “It (the exhibition) shows the rich history, our past… and looking at it, we can also look ahead to the future,” Satyendra signed off.