With her second book in Where Stones Speak trilogy, Rana Safvi discovers some of the lesser known monuments of the city, says A Gupta
Have you ever been to or even heard of the Phuta Gumbad
— Read on www.dailypioneer.com/vivacity/more-layers-of-delhi.html
MORE LAYERS OF DELHI
With her second book in Where Stones Speaktrilogy, Rana Safvi discovers some of the lesser known monuments of the city, says A Gupta
Have you ever been to or even heard of the Phuta Gumbad inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium? A structure built on a raised platform with arched niches in the interiors, kanguraengravings on the drum wall and lotus crest on the dome, it is one of the many forgotten monuments from the seven cities of Delhi, where as the saying goes, one would hit a monument every time one picked and threw a stone.
Rana Safvi, a historian, who has taken up the cudgels of making people aware of this and other beautiful monuments of a bygone era, is back with the second book of her Where Stones Speak trilogy. The book, titled The Forgotten Cities of Delhi, covers historical trails in Siri, Jahanpanah, Tughlaqabad, Firozabad, Din Panah, Shergarh and Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.
The evening at Café Turtle, where the book was released, was made memorable with an interaction with the author and a Sufi performance. Rana answered the questions put forth to her with with such heartfelt emotions, that one could almost feel the author’s passion towards her work. Asif Khan Dehlvi, the founder of Delhi Karavan, added to the wonderful evening by sharing his experience and vast knowledge with the audience. Delhi Karavan plays a very important role in invoking a sense of passion and pride towards the rich heritage and culture of Delhi in people and has also helped Safvi from time to time since 2013 when they began their journey together.
“The thought that struck me was that the land of Mehrauli is the actual Delhi we keep talking about and we should make people aware of it. So, I decided to write about it. Although Gordon Risley Hearn had already written about it in his book, The Seven Cities of Delhi, that was from British perspective. I wanted to write with an Indian point of view,” emphasised Safvi. Her first book Where Stones Speak: Historical Trails in Mehrauli, The First City of Delhi was published in 2015 and was well-received. Despite that, she felt her work wasn’t over and so she decided to write two more books and make it a trilogy. “There are around 166 monuments in Delhi and over 15 monuments in Mehrauli itself and people are hardly aware of them. A trilogy wasn’t initially my plan but became one as I went with the flow,” she added. When asked about the challenges she faced while writing, she replied, “Oh, I faced a lot of challenges.
One of the biggest challenge was that sometimes the caretakers of monuments would not let me enter and would bluntly refuse to allow me from taking photographs.”
Rashmi Agarwal, a versatile and accomplished Indian singer, made the evening even more engaging and enjoyable with her qawwalis, The audience reaction said it all as many of then clapped and hummed along. This was one of the moments where one could use the Urdu phrase Mehfil jam gayi.
The final book of the trilogy will be out soon as Safvi said, “The book is 80 per cent ready. I usually write in summers and visit the monuments in winters and I still need to visit some of them for my third book.”