For admirers of Mirza Ghalib's poetry, this will be a treat. Visitors to the master poet's haveli in Delhi's old quarters will now get to hear strains of his Urdu ghazals wafting across the rooms of the house where he lived.
The new arrangements, including lighting decorations, will be in place before Ghalib's birth anniversary December 27. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is taking keen interest to see that everything is in place before then.
"Music and lighting arrangements will be made in the bungalow before his birthday," said Dikshit, on a visit to the historical place Tuesday.
She directed the state archaeological survey authorities to clean the face of the old mansion by scrubbing away the posters plastered on it and removing all the signboards and other objects hindering its clear view. The haveli, located in the Mir Qasim Jaan Gali in the busy Chandni Chowk area, was opened to the public December 27, 2000.
Dikshit reprimanded some officials for allowing signboards to spring up before the building. "It's a protected historical monument. How can you allow mobile service providers and their agents to put up signboards here?" she asked.
"We are going to clean up the lanes and by-lanes leading to the haveli. The poet is a national asset and everything attached to him is of paramount importance to us," Dikshit told IANS. "The house and the areas near it must look neat."
Pawan K. Varma, director general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) who is associated with the facelift and who has written a book on the poet, said there were plans to install a statue of the 19th century poet in south Delhi's Nizamuddin area.
"Delhi is to soon get its first statue of Ghalib. A final decision will be taken soon," he said.
Varma said Ghalib's birth anniversary celebrations this year would see a number of events, including a candlelight march from Red Fort to the haveli.
Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan, better known as Ghalib, a nom de plume he adopted in the tradition of all classical Urdu poets, lived his last years in the bungalow between 1860-69. He was born on December 27, 1797.
The haveli was acquired by the Delhi government in December 1999 and restored to its original splendour. Earlier it was in a dilapidated condition and housed shops selling wood and iron until the court asked the authorities to restore it.
The haveli was given the status of a monument and opened to the public by Dikshit and then Lt Governor of Delhi Vijay Kapoor December 27, 2000.
The haveli houses some framed pieces of Ghalib's ghazals, some books on him, Ghalib's handwritten letters and a few brass utensils from the poet's times. It also has several portraits and a seated statue of the bard.
So, next time you visit the haveli, you may hear the famous lines from one of his ghazals: Har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ke 'too kya hai'? Tumheen kaho ke yeh andaaz-e-guftgoo kya hai?"