City Monument – Delhi’s Most Beautiful Door, Gali Badliyan
A heritage nobody knows.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Found. At long last, Delhi’s arguably most beautiful door has been discovered. It doesn’t have a doorbell. It’s not in any of the forts or palaces, or museums. Surely not in the bungalow districts of Golf Links or Vasant Vihar. It doesn’t belong to a temple, or to a mosque. It’s not part of any grand haveli either. It is in Old Delhi, true. But not in Gali Naughara Street, famous for its old houses and doorways.
It is somewhere you might never have stepped in. Gali Badliyan is a part of Gali Chooriwallan street, a kind of long winding alley, the turning to it so discreet and the street itself so ordinary that one needs to be very optimistic to imagine finding there a thing of great beauty.
The entrance to a private house with rust-coloured walls and a finely sculpted balcony, the very sight of the wooden door takes the breath away. The primary aspect of its uniqueness is that, unlike doorways of such nature, it’s not broad at all, but very narrow. The door itself is like a coffee table art book. Its entire surface is sculpted with sceneries seeming to depict countless legends and stories. One pane shows a hunter, with a moustache and hat, aiming his gun towards a lion, himself running after a deer — a hapless deer, that seems to be plunging into a ravine.
Another pane is the very antithesis of the aforementioned violence. It shows a vase crowded with a dense offering of flowers, the stalks disproportionately tall compared to the vase. The panes at the bottom show parrots.
The door is the centerpiece of an arched niche, accompanied with taaks and columns, covered in decorations that look like creamy icings on a cake.
The building has a set of two smaller doors, sculpted too. Though exquisite, they have the misfortune to be too close to the main door, which is such a grand distraction. A marble plaque on the wall identifies the building as Lala Ramsaran Das Bhawan.
The door faces a lane full of residences, some of them seemingly uninhabited. A few passersby are walking in front of the door without tossing a look at it. Their supreme disinterest to such gloriousness, too, is breathtaking.
A thing of utmost beauty