Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mutiny Monuments

They litter many parts of North Delhi. There are some on the Central Ridge, apparently some near Coronation Park but to me, the ones that stand out are those on traffic islands near Old Delhi Railway Station. As you take the road from Red Fort towards Kashmere Gate and pass under a railway track on a bridge, you can see 3 of them on the road divider. Blue Line buses zip past, as do many green Tata MarcoPolos, oblivious to these small memorials which mark the mutiny/revolt or first war of independence of 1857 (depends on which side you are looking at it from).

Many years ago, I read a quotation 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' Never was this truer than for these monuments. Click on the third photograph and read the plaques, you will understand what I mean. The plaque has sometimes made me wonder if this should make us (as citizens of India) look at the Kashmir and Bodoland problems in a different way?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Chor Minar

Seems I was wrong. The last post did not turn out to the last post. There is still some life left in the old dog.

Chor Minar dates back to the earliest of my Delhi walking days. I met a new found friend, Himanshu Dube at his office in the Asian Games village. Eager to list down places I should visit, I opened a small pad and picked his brains. He mentioned Chor Minar in Hauz Khas. It sounded attractive. One of those days, still early days, I hunted around for it after my Spanish class had finished (despues de mi clase de EspaƱol habia terminado).

And in typical Delhi fashion, I stumbled upon blank faces after blank faces. Having found nothing, I moved onto greener pastures. There was Tughlaqabad, Freoz Shah Kotla, The Fraser Mansion etc etc. Chor Minar was then consigned to lying deep down somewhere in my notepad, buried under many pages of scribbles, sumdged by the ink around. It was not until one mid January afternoon when I had nothing to do that it came back to me. I was leafing through the pad and found it scribbled in one corner.

So I made my way to Hauz Khas, this time intent on finding it. I did find it. Its a non-descript short, pudgy tower in the middle of a patch of dried grass surrounded by elite houses on all sides but it is one of the oldest monuments in Delhi.

Built sometime in the Khilji period (late 13th and early 14th centuries), it is said to have been named Chor Minar because of its reputation of holding the severed heads of thieves, serial offenders and royal wrath invokers in its many small wall holes. To me, the holes look too small. So, back then, either all offenders were really pea brained individuals or maybe, their heads were brutally beaten to fit these holes.

Either way, its a perfect place to note the contrasts of Delhi. Late 13th and early 21st centuries look at each other in the face with the ease of childhood buddies and yet, beyond the half broken fence of the small park, the clock turns back near the rubble masonry minar.

Location - Hauz Khas (click here for the map location)

Co-ordinates - N28 32.863 E77 12.342

Closest Metro Station - Hauz Khas (Yellow Line)

Landmark - None really