Special Reports

Ghalib’s Haveli

Through the narrow lanes off Chandni Chowk, as you walk down Gali Qasimjan and approach the corner of Ballimaran, which is now a cluster of small shops selling spectacles, you come face to face the haveli of the great poet laureate of Hindusan, Mirza Asadullah Khan, commonly known by his takhallus (nom de plume) “Ghalib”.The unassuming building can easily be overlooked by the passersby if not for a seemingly out of place uniformed guard stationed at the entrance. Ghalib’s haveli, a shadow of its former self, consists of two rooms comprising approximately 130 sq ft with the rest having been usurped by shops and tenants. In the room to the right stands a bust of the poet which was commissioned by Gulzar and sculpted by the Solapur-based Bhagwan Rampure.The walls are adorned with some of the famous couplets of the poet. Other potraits include those of his wife Umrao Begum, a pious woman in direct contrast to Ghalib’s enfant terrible image. Also on display are the clothes that Ghalib and his wife may have worn as their day-to-day attire.The other room is beyond a small courtyard and exibits some of Ghalib’s handwritten works, utensils of that bygone era and curiously a list of Indian delicacies that Ghalib enjoyed. Behind the display, in an alcove sits a life-sized replica of Ghalib smoking a
hookah. This part of the haveli, though well-preserved, leaves one with a feeling of discontentment and dissatisfaction.

For decades the haveli housed shops and at one point was used as a karkhana until the Delhi government decided to acquire a portion in 1999 and turn it in to a memorial to the great poet. They have tried to recreate the 19th century atmosphere by using Lahori bricks while sandstone and wooden gates for the entrance are reminiscent of the Mughal period. The haveli is open to all free of charge from sunrise to sunset except on Mondays and national holidays. Every connoisseur of arts
should pay a visit to the site where Ghalib spent the last years of his life and where he breathed his last.

Hoon garmi-e nishaat-e tasawwur se naghma sanj
Main andaleeb-e gulshan-e na afrida hoon (Ghalib)

Nabil K

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2016 on page no. 13

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