It’s quite ethereal. You walk inside and you are in complete awe. You can see the remnants of the Mughal era. A period that was synonymous with poetry and arts. You are enchanted as you walk through the Gali Qasim Jaan in Chandni Chowk. A flourish mixture of the new and the old. Ghalib Ki Haveli stands tucked in this busy street. However, what you see is unmatched.
Ghalib Ki Haveli was the residence of the 19th Century poet Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan. Or who we commonly know as Mirza Ghalib. As a matter of fact, he is a poet who reaches the hearts of not only the people of the Indian Subcontinent… His reach is within the sensibilities of the Hindustani Diaspora. There are so many renditions of his beautiful poetries. In Nazm recitals by Gulzar or in the Ghazals of Jagjit Singh.
The Haveli is resplendent… In fact it is rich with cultural throes as old as 150 years. Additionally, there is a sign that greets you.. It says that Ghalib lived the last nine years of his life in this Haveli.
Ghalib was a poet of the Mughal Court. And as you walk, you see what inspired him then. The bustling streets of Chandni Chowk, that was once the main market of Delhi. In fact, it was an important commercial and trade zone.
When Ghalib ki Haveli was restored, the originality of the place was kept in mind. As a matter of fact, there are showcases with his clothes and writings in display. If you let yourself free, you can feel the mysticism surround you. In fact, there is a small portion that has been restored in Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli. The rest of the area is occupied by shops. This is one example of the medley that Chandni Chowk is. The beautiful symphony of Mughal, British and Contemporary India.
Time stops still in Mirza Ghalib Ki Haveli. You take your time to breathe in the tranquility of the era that has passed. The minute I stepped in, I was transported. If you are a fan of poetry and Mirza Ghalib, you might even remember some of his beautiful words.
Words that captured the very true essence of Delhi. For Ghalib, Delhi was the true essence of the soul. As a matter of fact, he has penned some of his masterpieces in Delhi.
“I asked my soul: What is Delhi?
She replied : The world is the body and Delhi its life!” says Mirza Ghalib.
The Mirza Ghalib ki Haveli is testament to the life that he lived. He survived the dark times. In fact, he survived being captured by the British and the Mughals for his affinity with either.
In fact, it is said that Ghalib lived a full life, but the city he loved didn’t take care of him. Neither in his life, nor in his death. The Ghalib ki Haveli remains tucked in the chaotic maze that Chandni Chowk is.
A gem that lays forgotten. A gem that lays hidden. You must visit Ghalib Ki Haveli. A relic that surpasses the prodigy that was Mirza Ghalib.
A keen poet, who saw things around him. The one who had the wit and charm. The one who observed and expressed. A man of words, Ghalib even notes how the bustling Chandni Chowk became a mirror of darkness.
For instance, he writes, ““Chowk jisko kahein, woh maqtal hei. Aaj ghar bana hei namoona zindaan ka” as a daily account of the mutiny. Read more of his poetry as you walk around this kothi.
As a matter of facct, you may even feel slightly cheated for Ghalib. There could have been better maintenance for the man of that stature. Regardless you will still be in complete awe.
“dil-e-nādāñ tujhe huā kyā hai, āḳhir is dard kī davā kyā hai… ham haiñ mushtāq aur vo be-zār, yā ilāhī ye mājrā kyā hai?”
We continue to borrow from Ghalib for our contemporary music. We may add in our flavour or try to ape his style. But rest assured, no one could write pain, love, tragedy and city like Ghalib could! Pay respect to his poetry, to his life and visit Ghalib Ki Haveli. A life that was a testament for all.
Lastly, it brings you closer to your own mortality. To be a better person.. to be someone worth remembering!
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