29 July, 2021

A Paean To The Past

A much-needed, comprehensive listing of Delhi's historical buildings

A Paean To The Past
Delhi is a hard city to love because it is too big to know. We all like bits of it; my favourite parts are the Kashmiri Gate/ Civil Lines/University area in Old Delhi and the Lodi Gardens/Khan Market/India Gate zone in Lutyens' Delhi. I grew up in these places and they fill me with the comfort of recognition. That said, I can't tell you when the Exchange in Civil Lines was built or name the mosque at the end of Pandara Road, the one that houses a nursery. I can't look up these facts because the city's urban fabric-its monuments, localities, parks, public buildings, domestic architecture-is virtually undocumented. A nostalgia without names diminishes memory because there can be no intimacy without information and anonymous cities breed strangers.

It is bad enough that our sense of this city is half-baked, a vague fondness for imperfectly known places, it's even worse when these places disappear or are made unrecognisable in the name of development, road-widening, Master Plans, gentrification and...

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