An Old Delhi facelift

No – not some mediaeval torture method but a proposal that after years of delay, the Chadni Chowk redevelopment plan will finally get under way under the auspices of the Shahjahanabad Corporation. Many Delhi residents will of course be skeptical that this will prove to be the success its champions claim. However, if it means preserving at least something of the faded and broken beauty of the Walled City then I wish it very, very good luck. My only concern is that this is not some run-down inner city in the West being gentrified: it’s a vibrant and working area where thousands and thousands of people make a living. The imperative to preserve its heritage, whilst obviously critical, should be tempered at least by a consideration for those that call Old Delhi home. Although I suspect one can guess how that will turn out…


India - Delhi - Heavy traffic on the congested streets of Old Delhi looking towards the Jama Masjid, Delhi, India


India - Delhi - Traffic on Chadni Chowk looking towards the Red Fort, Old Delhi


India - Delhi - A man lounges inside the remains of the Sultan Singh Ghar ki Haveli. Much of Old Delhi's historical architecture has been lost to new development.

Just take five…

Some good news from Pakistan. The BBC reported today on the success of Sachal Orchestra in Lahore that is thriving by reinterpreting classic jazz standards – like Brubeck’s Take Five – and giving them a South Asian twist. Pakistani musicians have seen their livelihoods collapse in recent years: musical tastes, instability and a growth of religious criticism have all impacted on them.

Their Indian cousins have also to a lesser extent seen their craft disappear and it’s from them that I find a picture in my archive taken on an Old Delhi roof.


India - Delhi - Traditional musicians play on a roof top in Chandni Mahal, Old Delhi, India. Once patronised by the Mughal rulers many now scrape a living playing weddings and social functions. Violinist Afzaal Zahoor leads Zeeshan Ahmad, a singer, Shankat Qureshi (tabla) and Shakeel Ahmad (Harmonia).

Delhi’s Red… errr… White Fort…

Well, according to the Daily Telegraph, conservation architects in Delhi have discovered that originally, a good deal of the Red Fort was originally… white. Quoting KK Mohammad, head of the Architectural Survey of India said the ‘Red Fort’ is a “misconception” because although its exterior ramparts are red sandstone “more of the Red Fort is white than people realise.” Apparently, the giant red stone sundial that is the Jantar Mantar was also originally all white too… ooops.


India - Delhi - Judduchkra Iqbal, a magician from the Kathiputli Colony in the Shadipur Depot slum dresses for a show behind the Red Fort
India - New Delhi - A garden seen through the arches of the Janar Mantar