Monday, December 17, 2012

The best of 2012 in Delhi!

Just a few of the memorable programs which take place through the year..... Classical concerts in the open air at Nehru park (one of the many parks in the city)known as "Music in the park" where the best musicians perform, and anyone can walk in, entry free. Sufi concerts, including a mesmerizing performance by the Whirling dervishes from Egypt, against the backdrop of the historical Old Fort; legendary performer Abida Parveen (from Pakistan) at the Jahan-e-Khusrau festival against the backdrop of Arab ki sarai in the Humayun's tomb complex. Other noted artists from abroad, like a noted Bangladeshi exponent of Tagore songs....others with unique instruments, like the and even a taste of Mozart. Literature is not neglected either, with book readings and discussions by eminent writers like William Dalyrimple, who have made Delhi their home, Stephen Alter etc. There is always something happening somewhere in the city, leaving us quite spoilt for choice!

On a Sufi trail.....

To carry on from my post on the Nizamuddin mela, here's a selection of the little known Sufi shrines in the area.....small, artistic and radiating an atmosphere that words fail to describe. Our first stop was at Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Shaikh--belonging to Ala-ud-din's time. At certain times, salt oozes out of the tiled interiors, and we were lucky that it was one of those times. Next, at the Dargah Bhoore Shah Baba, an unassuming shrine on a busy main road, which we have all passed countless times...but how many of us have ever stopped? A short rickshaw ride down the road, circling the Sabz Burj, takes us to Dargah Patesha, named after a Sufi saint who legend says hid among the leaves when visitors came! There is a 700 year old tree near the tomb. The road running parallel to the walls of Humayun's tomb has some gems on either side--including an impressive monument which is the tomb of an unknown person, and further ahead, the Dargah of Jalal ud din Shami. Come back to the main road, and a short distance away is the "Khanqah and Chilla" of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, where the greatest Sufi saint of Delhi/Nizamuddin spent 66 years of his life. One can pass through a gateway, past the mosque, and enter the small room where the saint prayed and meditated. A little further ahead is a Sikh gurudwara, and down the road, the pretty Neeli Gumbad, of blue tiles

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hues of Karnataka!

My friends, particularly those on "Blogit" may remember that I was working on a guidebook of Karnataka....well, it's finally been published, and available at these links: For Amazon, please use: For Apple iBooks, please use: On iTunes, Do check it out!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Updates from Delhi

Back again after a long gap, mainly due to the constant reminders from my online friends! Delhi is a vibrant city, with all kinds of programs and activities, concerts and festivals, and it comes alive even more during this season. With our extreme climate, most months in the year are pretty hot and humid, so we make the most of this time, specially to go on guided "heritage" walks (which are held throughout the year) around a historical city dotted with monuments and shrines. I plan to post some photos every month of what's taking place, and to make a start, here are a few from November. The gaily bedecked "cycle rickshaws" (an old, and even now popular mode of transport in some parts of Delhi!) took us on a "Sufi trail" to little known shrines in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi. In the backdrop is a monument called the "Sabz Burz", an enigmatic presence in the middle of swirling traffic.
The tour, which was part of the annual Nizamuddin mela, was followed by a magical, open air concert by a well known group called the Niazi brothers, against the backdrop of the historical "Chauasath Khamba". The Sufis believe music leads to the Divine, and it was easy to feel that. On the way home, we stopped at one of the numerous little shops which make Nizamuddin a favorite haunt! The hot "rotis" (Indian bread) served with mutton kebabs are a gourmet's delight! Here you see our rotis being prepared. The colorful folk dance was part of the Uttarakhand (a state in north India) festival at the Dilli Haat (you may remember photos from an old post)--a popular open air venue where thematic festivals are held. Next week, I will post some photos from recent heritage walks, so do come back! On another topic, you may remember my posts about the sterling work of artist-conservationist Sunitha Dhairyam. Well, she's now a member of "Artists for conservation"---do check out the link:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Festivals galore! scenes from Delhi....

October ushers in the season of festivals in India.....starting with Dussehra (here you see scenes from Durga puja celebrations by Bengalis), Divali or the festival of lights, Guru parab for Sikhs and ending with Christmas.

The image of the Mother Goddess Durga, is shown riding on a tiger while slaying the demon; she is surrounded by her four children. This is a community festival, so people gather to pray, while traditional drummers play (and dance to the rhythm) and finally, free lunch (called bhog, after it is offered to the deity) is served to all, irrespective of one's class or belief.