Special Recommendation – Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

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Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

The soul of Delhi.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The Delhi Walla has often been accused of focusing too much on dargahs and tombs. Doesn’t Delhi also boast of actors, activists, writers, singers, museums, bazaars, malls, gardens, temples, colleges, besides various nagars, puris and baghs.

The city has all this and more.

There are suburban apartments in the east taken over by honest, hardworking tax-payers. The squalor of the west has been somewhat rescued by its first-world malls coupled with an extensive metro rail network. In the north, the young, hopeful campus life of Delhi University runs parallel to the old, sad, genteel world of Civil Lines bungalows. In the Capital’s central district, the touristy charm is ably captured by the Red Fort and Connaught Place. While everything that translates to glamour, style, and wealth falls in the kitty of the dishy crowd of the south.

But to The Delhi Walla, these are not the images evoked by the words “The soul of Delhi.” The vision that arises is that of abandoned ruins, old doorways, narrow streets, rose petals, Urdu verses, evening azaan, hidden courtyards, soaring kites, veiled ladies, tandoori ovens, itar stalls, seekh kebabs, invisible djinns, quickie sex, unknown tombs, and sufi dargahs.

The Nizamuddin Basti, so often considered a filthy Muslim ghetto, is the epitome of this world. And the heart of the Basti is the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya – inviting, calm, tranquil and lovely.

To those Delhi wallas who have never visited this part of the city — there are many — the Delhi Walla recommends that they must set out immediately for the excursion.

You might have shopped in Karol Bagh, clicked photographs in Qutb Minar, performed namaz in Jama Masjid, and might have even read William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns, but if you haven’t visited Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah yet, you haven’t experienced Delhi.

Tourist spotting, in a Basti bylane

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

Someone’s praying, in a Basti mosque

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

Someone’s praying, in the Dargah courtyard

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

Someone’s praying, at the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin

Delhi by the Book

Worldy talk

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

City of djinns, at Jahanara’s tomb

Horror Show

Khilji Masjid, inside the Dargah

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti

Sukoon, while listening to the Dargah qawwali

Time Out Nizamuddin Basti