Delhiwale: Satisfying calm at Valmiki’s oasis
A temple in the heart of Delhi that still feels remote and serene, and has a connection with Mahatma Gandhicities Updated: May 22, 2018 09:28 IST
This is not to suggest that Valmiki Mandir is the perfect place for an afternoon slumber but this revered temple in central Delhi does have a satisfying calm — a stillness, as if it is tucked away in some remote Himalayan height. If you do stretch out on the marble floor, perhaps you will detect the sound of a mountain stream; but it’s just a passing Metro train.
Dedicated to Maharishi Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana, the temple isn’t as old as you may think. “If truth be told, less than 100 years!” says priest Krishna Shah Bidhyarthi who lives in a room next to the temple. Until 1933 the structure was improvised, he explains, with the present-day building, complete with marble tiles and ceiling fans, set up in the 1990s.
The main shrine is small and austere, while the adjacent hall has a more recent history. “Mahatma Gandhi lived here for more than 200 days,” says the priest, which inevitably means the walls are covered with his portraits. A low desk suggests he probably wrote his voluminous correspondence in the peace of the temple compound here in Valmiki Colony.
These lazy summer afternoons can be particularly pleasant at the temple, with a breeze wafting over the marble pavilion. The shrine can be locked, but an attendant will open it on request. Do ask the priest to be introduced to Rocky, his moody but quiet dog.