City Moment – Winter Sunset, Jama Masjid, Gurgaon
The perfect Delhi moment.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is winter and the sun is at long last our friend. But some things don’t change: the most poignant time of the season is still the twilight hour, when our sky’s brightest star starts staging a retreat.
The so-called Millennium City of Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region is rich in sunset points. The most beautiful sites from where to view the perishing sun are undoubtedly enjoyed by the posh Golf Course Road dwellers, living in the higher floors of the multi-storey residential towers. Another set of good places is on the flyovers of National Highway 8 — but this is a pleasure accessible only to those driving towards Delhi. The entrance of a hip second-floor cafe, in Galleria Market, offers another fantastic view of the sundown.
Meanwhile, the Millennium City’s most classic sunset in a public place is easily the one experienced in the sprawling courtyard of the Jama Masjid, in Sadar Bazaar. Here, the twilight hour is a relatively early experience, as it happens when the sun is just starting to drift westwards in the grim smoggy sky. Since the winter sky these days rarely happens to be blue, due to pollution, the atmosphere already looks hazy and less bright, as if the evening had arrived before time. Cloaked behind layers of dust and smog, the sun is reduced to a pale shade of gold.
This late afternoon, the mosque is almost empty and the sun’s reflection has lit up the water in the ablution pool. The courtyard and the adjoining balconies are feeling tranquil; it’s difficult to believe that this space stands within the limits of a noisy market. As the evening approaches, the sky deepens to a darker hue and the sun starts to drift behind the mosque’s left minaret. Soon enough the courtyard loses the sun, but the sun’s faded glow remains.
Now you must get out of the mosque, and walk towards the facing street lined with pickle shops. Stop here, and turn back to look at the sky. The sun is still visible from this point, but is dipping down fast behind the mosque. Soon, it is gone, and the mosque becomes dark, as if replaced by its shadow. It is a magical moment.
Twilight in the Millennium