I have always loved to wander around Delhi's monuments and imbibe the ambience of a culture long gone. I have always wanted to read a book which would tell me about the lesser known monuments sprinkled around the city ? and today I have found just the right book.
Rakshanda Jalil's book "Invisible City ? the Hidden Monuments of Delhi " is an amazing book. It has been written in a simple style, without going to into elaborate descriptions of the monuments and their surroundings. The words are simple, the descriptions are effortless and as you read the book you learn to love this incredible city even more. When she writes about the Khirki Mosque ? one of the loveliest little places hidden inside the metropolis she says :
"Open quadrangles alternate with covered arches to create a checkerboard of darkness and light, space and enclosure, earth and sky. A vista of pillared arches stretches in every direction"
About the Jamali Kamali mosque she says:
"You might think that seeing one old mosque is as good as seeing them all. But each place has a distinctive' feel' and ambience."The Jamali Kamali exudes that rare combination of striking beauty and serenity, especially since you least expect to find such a well-preserved monument in the midst of such wilderness."
The book is divided into various sections based upon the historical period that it covers. Rakshanda Jalil uses her experience as a skilled writer to give us a gem of a book which is much more than just a coffee table book about a city. She herself has written short stories , co-authored books with Mushirul Hasan and also writes on issues of literature, culture and heritage. She has published over 15 books, and this is among her finest creations.
Prabhas Roy's photographs are much more than just appendages to the written text. They enhance the visuals and as you read the stories and history and the narratives, his visuals make everything come to life with fabulous clarity and elegance. He has lived a traveller's life and his Bohemian, nature-loving spirit has taught him how to see and capture the beauty even among broken down ruins covered with moss and scattered stones.
If you love Delhi, and would like to know more about it, read this book. Savour the narration and the pictures, and someday when you have the time, go and see these places. Those will be moments which you shall cherish.
Book Description: Mirza Ghalib may have been indulging when he penned these famous lines, but there is no denying that Delhi is a notch above the other great metropolises of India. What sets it apart is the multitude of historic ruins that are almost everywhere. Every ruler down the ages wished to adorn his beloved Delhi, to leave a mark that would last and so left behind a landscape studded with jewels from the past.
Neophyte New Delhi has been quick to discard most of them on the rubbish heap of history, choosing to validate a bare minimum with a name, an identity and a place of visibility.
Where it was possible to make the law look the other way, many of these monuments were razed to the ground to make way for colonisation and development. Regarded as no more than inconvenient piles of rock, many have been pulled down, built upon, built around.
Invisible City: The Hidden Monuments of Delhi explores this other Delhi ? the little-known, seldom-visited, largely unheard ? of Delhi, the Delhi that has been rendered almost invisible.
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