Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ten things that define Delhi (7)

If you're like me, and you love all things green, then Delhi can be a delightful city. Just driving along can be a pleasure, with wide tree-lined avenues, each home to many varieties of trees. .
Delhi, City of Trees
Tamarind, jamun, neem, pipal, banyan...all of them provide shade in the Delhi summer, and are refreshingly green in the rains. And it's not just trees - there are parks and gardens, beautiful restful places where you can sit down and enjoy the peace.
Yes, that is indeed a peacock strolling by casually
Gorgeous greenery at the Hauz Khas tank
There are many large garden areas - the beautifully landscaped Lodhi Gardens, the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Buddha Jayanti Park, the Zoological Park, Nehru Park, the Delhi Golf Club...these are home to over 250 species of trees.
But although the large public gardens and parks are lovely, for me, the real heart of Delhi is in the small gardens that dot residential 'colonies'. In these gardens, the elders of the community come for their morning walks, some walk their dogs, some jog, and the children play cricket in the evenings. There are small benches where recipes are exchanged, gossip traded, matrimonial matches made, and much knitting accomplished. I still remember one summer morning when I sat on a porch with my chai, idly looking at the flowering trees of the neighbourhood garden. The coral tree was in bloom, and I watched the mynahs and sparrows hopping around chattering to themselves...what a blissful way to start the day.

- Deepa

P.S. Okay, now that I have defined seven ideas, how about suggesting what 8, 9 and 10 should be?

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ten things that define Delhi (6)

A very Mughal city

Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi – a relaxing Char Bagh-styled Persian garden area that served as the inspiration for the Taj Mahal

To me, Delhi has always been the city of the Great Mughals.
Babur, the first Mughal Emperor, was descended from the Mongol invader Ghengis Khan on his mother's side and on his father's side the infamous Timur (Tamberlane). The word Mughal itself is derived from the word Mongol.
Babur was succeeded by his son Humayun in 1530. But Humayun was only 22 and soon lost his territories to the Afghan Sher Shah Suri. He regained them with Persian aid ten years later, returning with a large retinue of Persian noblemen.
Humayun's return with a Persian entourage signalled an important change in Mughal Court culture. The Central Asian origins of the dynasty were now largely overshadowed by Persian art, architecture, language and literature.
The Persian influence is still visible today, not only in the monuments of Mughal Delhi, but also in the Urdu language and Mughlai cuisine of Delhi.

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