City Walk – Chhanhirai Gali, Near Roshanpura
Lane to another time.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is a world of yesterday. Which is very rare to land into in a metropolis that is also known as the Millennium City. This narrow lane near Gurgaon’s Roshanpura in the Greater Delhi Region is one of those relics of old times that have managed to survive, so far, in this brave new universe of high-rises.
The buildings here have their walls coated in rusty patina of several decades. They are accompanied by old doors and windows that have become a rare sight even in the gallis and kuchas of Purani Dilli.
It feels like being transported into some atmospheric Old Delhi by-lane.
The street’s name is evocative of its ambiance. Chhanhirai Gali suggests that it came to be known so probably because of a house with chaar aangan, or four courtyards. This is stated by a labourer who briefly walked down the otherwise empty street. It’s difficult to confirm the name. No other person has surfaced. On-the-spot Googling shows no street of this name.
It looks like a residential locality, but the houses appear to be empty. The weather-beaten doors seem to have not been opened for years. Their padlocks are entangled in clouds of cobwebs. The tall, stately windows too are locked. Their metal netting is torn in places, like a fakir’s tattered kaftan.
Much of the paint on the wall of the houses has peeled off, showing the bricks beneath. These aren’t the lakhori bricks of yesteryear, indicating that the construction that initially appeared to belong to some other time isn’t that old, after all. Whatever, you may spend many minutes observing the shapes of these dilapidations that seem like time’s attempt to create a painting.
Some sights are full of poignant feeling. Like a window ledge teeming with damaged idols of Lord Ganesha. Or a dust-covered doorbell hanging from a long cord beside a cobwebbed door that clearly hasn’t been opened for ages.
The lane isn’t long. You can cover it in ten minutes, and yet it could make you feel as if you have escaped far from the world of today.
Back in time