Urdu and Qutb Minar: A Perfect setting for a Book Launch.
Rana Safvi launched her book Where Stones Speak at Qutb Minar on 20th September 2015 and trust me the venue of the launch couldn’t get any better. From seasoned intellectuals like Janab Sohail Hashmi to young Literature enthusiasts like me, the get together was an experiential one.
Hogi iss dheri maarat ki kahaani kuchh toh
Dhudh alfaz ke malbe mein maa ini kuchh toh
(Surely a story hides behind these ruins, somewhere
Search the debris of words, the meaning is there, somewhere)
This Urdu couplet written at the back of Safvi’s book most aptly captures its essence. Rana Safvi is a historian and currently writes a blog Hazrat- e – Dilli which talks about Delhi’s food, culture, history and age old-traditions.
Where Stones Speak is a historical book, that describes Mehrauli, the first City of Delhi in a very colloquial language. The book is rich in visuals and Urdu shairi, which makes it all the more enriching.
“Blending stirring Urdu couplets with haunting visuals, author Rana Safvi walks us through the Oldest of Delhi, describing the religious diversity of Mehrauli’s monumemt.”
-Introduction from the book
We were taken for a heritage walk, led by Safvi herself, at 9:30am through the mesmerizing Qutb Complex. The joy of witnessing the beautiful Qutb Complex was intensified greatly by the captivating narration of its history by Safvi.
Our walk started from the Quwaat-ul-Islam Mosque. Rana told us how it was made after demolition of twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples. The architecture of the mosque thus reflects the fusion of Indo-Islamic design.
She even drew our attention to the first floor, which was a separate room for women to pray within the mosque. The very interesting history of Razia Sultan followed.
The historical documents say that after saying her Juma (Friday) prayer, Razia came down from the women’s mosque and made an emphatic speech on being wronged by her step-brother. She got immense support and was crowned the Sultan. It is one of the earliest instances of a woman ruler being popularly elected by the people.
After Quwaat-ul-Islam mosque, we went towards the Iron Pillar, the Qutb Minar and Sultan Iltutmish’s tomb. Mr Syed M. Qasim, the photographer for the book shared his experience of coming really early in the morning to get the very beautiful picture for the book cover.
Juices, water bottles and wet wipes provided the much needed respite. After the walk, we retired to the documentary room, where the floor was open for questions. The author signed our copies of the book.
All in all, it was a successful event. Everybody who is interested in the history of Delhi and would like to know about it in the easiest and most appealing manner should definitely get their copies of Where Stones Speak.
Event Coverage by Tahira Khan.