Delhi Monuments – Safdarjung’s Tomb Complex


Safdar Jung’s Tomb complex or Mansur ka Maqbara, as locals call it, holds a special place in my heart. I think the tomb was never meant to rival Humayun’s Tomb as sighted everywhere but to solely honor Mirza Muqin Abul Mansur Khan, viceroy of Awadh and later the chief minister known by his title, Safdar Jung.  He was a powerful governor and the state of Awadh or oudh virtually became independent of the Mughal empire under Safdar Jung and his successors till it was annexed by the British in 1857. It rivaled Delhi in literature, architecture, art.  Satyajit Ray’s classic movie, Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) was set in the backdrop of Awadh.

This garden tomb was the last architectural project of Mughal era in Delhi.

There is an undisturbed calm that fills the tomb complex as it is not crowded with tourists like the other tombs. A sereneness that draws you in. It may be “imperfect” architecturally but as a whole the entire complex is awe inspiring.

Remember what Sheldon’s mother says in Big Bang Theory? “Sometimes it’s the imperfect stuff that makes things perfect.”

Keep in mind that this artistically magnificent tomb is that of a prime minister in the Mughal Empire, “Wazir-ul-Mamlikat-i-Hindustan” and not that of an emperor or a Mughal royal. Even his master Muhammad Shah Rangila doesn’t enjoy the luxury of such a splendid spacious resting place. Though he may have that fine ornate carvings, characteristic of  mid 18th century Mughal era, inside his tomb.

As for the marble being stolen from Rahim Khan e Khana’s tomb there are two theories on this. One is the popular one floating everywhere and mentioned by historians too that some of the exterior stone (marble) was plundered from Rahim’s tomb while constructing Safdarjung’s tomb.

The second theory I read refutes the first. As per Aga Khan Trust ( who are restoring Rahim’s Tomb) no material from there was used in Safdar Jung’s Tomb. The analyzed stone cladding is totally different. I am no historian or expert to give my views on it but I still feel that wherever the stones came from should not belittle the efforts of creating this grand mausoleum. Sir Syed Ahmed wrote about that in his book too.

 

The triple storied heavily ornamented gateway of the tomb complex is a photographers’ delight. The splendid floral and geometrical patterns that adorns the facade symmetrically around the jharokha of the arched entrance are stunningly done in orange, green and purple. One of the prettiest gateways in Delhi especially in comparison to the much touted Humayun’s Tomb. Only a few of the buildings by later Mughals have this Bangla jharokha style incorporated with the inverted arches in their buildings as per my knowledge. Correct me if I’m wrong.

One can barely see one of the fading fish motifs, the royal insignia of Awadh, on the left side under the base of the arch. The other is not visible at all. It reminds one of  Safdar Jung’ glorious connection with Awadh. The arched walls of the gate frame the tomb perfectly and trust me it is a very surreal experience to stand there and watch the grand mausoleum. There is a lot of work in incised plaster in the interior of the gate.

The Arabic inscription over the main entry gate to the central chamber of the tomb reads, “When the hero of plain bravery departs from the transitory, may he become a resident of god’s paradise”.

A gate on the right side leads to the three domed mosque.  most of the chambers of the madarsa and the mosque is not accessible to the pubic which is the case in many of the monuments in Delhi. A very frustrating rule. I was not permitted to step in the courtyard or into the mosque to see the Ablution or the Waju Khana with a fountain that is a rare occurrence in such mosques.

The gardens are filled with bird calls and it is soothing to see such a treasure of unique trees and shrubs. I was able to see the gorgeous Sita Ashok, mango and the Indian Gooseberry (Awla) in bloom, the kadamb fruiting in full glory with squirrels and birds feasting on the ripe fruits, the beautiful shrubs of Red Kund / Red Jasmine lining the main pathway to the tomb.

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The manicured lawns, the swaying palms, the gardeners at work, the entire tranquility just lift  your tired spirits. You must look up the gardens whenever visiting any of the monuments.  The waterways are always dry but the well had a motor attached for watering the garden which was a welcome sight as earlier I remember seeing it all neglected and was cordoned off with the stone lattice work fence.

Don’t know how deep it is. Was it used to quench the thirst of weary travelers or those staying in the pavilions in the complex apart from being the prime water source to the gardens? Perhaps a Persian water wheel was used for garden irrigation or water was even hand drawn too for drinking. I’m trying yo picture the scene. Nothing online about the well perhaps because these wells are poor cousins of the mighty step-wells..lol …I’ve seen a beautiful working well in khair ul manazil mosque. There’s one in Nili masjid too but closed and not in use.

Built in 1753-54 AD, Safdar Jung’s tomb is set on a high plinth containing series of recessed arches. It is surrounded by a 300-sq-meter garden in typical Mughal style charbagh pattern where the garden is divided in four squares by walking paths and canals leading to the three pavilions that are, as expected of ASI, out of bound for public. The tomb is in the center. There are four two storied minarets in the four corners of the square structure.

The onion shaped dome, made of white marble and pink stone, rising above a 16 sided sandstone drum stands out uniquely amidst the other tombs and monuments of that period. Designed and built by Abyssinian architect Shaidi Bilal Mohammad Khan the tomb is a fine example of Persian and Indian architecture. The bulbous shape derives from Persian Timurid domes and the elegant lotus finial with a marble pinnacle derives from the Hindu temples.

(I lost a few pictures so sorry for this shoddy one. Will change when I visit the tomb next.)

The interior of the dome has beautiful work in molded limestone plaster or stucco as we know it. The medallions with looped floral designs are surrounded by radiating petals and carried on honeycomb pendents that rise in multilayered formations. The dome consists of eight chambers, the central one housing the pristine white marble cenotaph of Safdar Jung. One of the most ornate and beautiful ones in Delhi.

The actual graves or burial chambers of Safadrjung and his wife Amat Jahan Begum are placed in an underground chamber of the monument.

The central chamber has four entrances and the play of light and shadow in the chamber is stunning.

Hidden staircase in the plinth leads to the tomb level and the tomb interior can be accessed via flight of stairs on the two sides. Each of the side room is decorated with rococo plaster work. Each designs different from the other. The minaret in the four corners are lined with thin marble strips and have a chatri on top.  

The Mughal Empire by the mid 1700s and there may have been several factors and not just short funds leading to the hurried patchwork in the making of this tomb. I wish someone researches this a bit more.

There is a certain grace about this tomb made of red sandstone and marble. I hope the monument gets its due and people stop quoting it as resembling an “elderly courtesan”..  (highly exaggerated), “last flicker…” and “poor copy” of Humayun’s Tomb etc. The mausoleum is perfect in its so called imperfection. 

Look beyond what is served to you on platter and visit the tomb with no preconceived notions. Its quiescence will draw you in like nothing else.

 

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Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Hauz Khas – Nili Masjid And Idgah Of Kharera


I’ve been missing in action here since a long time and that is because my laptop is giving issues and I have not been able to sort it so far. This Delhi monument post is part of my wanderings in Hauz Khas area. There are still a few more I will cover including those in adjacent Green Park.

Nili /Neeli Masjid 

Since so many years I passed the Nili Masjid of the Blue Mosque but never really went in there to explore. Located in A block the the tree bayed mosque is on the side of the road connecting August Kranti Marg and Aurobindo Marg. Sandwiched between posh houses  sometimes misses the eye unless of course it is prayer time or Friday when one can see a lot of devotees heading there for prayers. It is one of the few working mosques of Delhi which are under ASI protection.

An inscription over its central arch says that it  built in A.H. 911 (A.D. 1505-06) during the reign of Sikandar Lodi, by Kasumbhil, nurse of Fath Khan, son of Khan-i-Azam Masnad Ali Khawas Khan, then governor of Delhi. She is one of the few women who commissioned some beautiful structures in Delhi. Others include Hamida Bano Begum, Maham Anga, Roshanara Begum and Qudsia Begum.

Made from rubble stone and plaster Nili Masjid has rather masculine looking massive bastions and conical supporting towers along its western wall. No other major archaeological features are visible to make it different from other mosques or other medieval structures. This low fortification was suppose to protect them from any invasion but here it doesn’t serve the purpose. It is mainly for beautification it seems.

The mosque has slender turrets at the corners of the octagonal drum (base) on which a single dome sits pretty. There are three arched entrances to the masjid.

An intricate line of kanguras (battlement-like ornamentation) inset with vibrant blue tile work run along the roof of the mosque giving the mosque its name – Nili Masjid or Blue Mosque, however the ornamentation is only limited to the portion above the central facade.  A wide “chajja” (overhanging eave) supported on thick carved bracket runs on the rest of the front face.
Under the blue tiled Kanguras one can see elegant calligraphy and art work. The mosque is beautiful in its simplicity. There is no grandeur to it an yet it is striking to the eyes. Some areas inside the chamber have been recently plastered as part of the conservation program I think.
Within the boundary there is also a well that is covered and no longer in use. One can see loudspeakers etc places in the corners of the roof. One can see prayer mats, racks to keep things etc inside the chamber which is fitted with modern amenities like tube lights, fans and coolers. I wonder what are the rules for the monuments protected under ASI and why encroachments and making alteration is not stopped.
The grass covered front yard is nice and clean with some potted flowering plants and a few lush big trees that line the fence.
While I was wandering in the area I thought of going to Idgah too as it is a stone’s throw away from my son’s home.
Idgah of Kharera 
The 600 year old Idgah of kharera in Hauz Khas (near to Chor Minar in Padmini Enclave)  was used only for congregational Eid prayers unlike the other mosques. The structure represents the West wall around which people gathered for Id prayers. There is a mimbar or pulpit next to the central mehrab for the Imam to deliver his message. Usually a town or city will have one idgah but as Delhi was made of many cities there are four medieval Idgahs here.
Built of rubble masonry, this structure has 11 mehrabs and a turret at the end of one side with the inscription written on a red sandstone slab fixed on the south bastion towards east. It tells that this most famous and renowned mosque was built by Iqbal Khan who was popularly known as Mallu Khan, a powerful noble and virtually the ruler during Muhammad Tughluq’s reign who commissioned this structure. The inscription also tells about the volatile period in which it was built.
It is stated to have been built A.H. 807 (A.D. 1404-05) in the typical Tughlak style. I read somewhere that it was here Timur had set up his camp to offer ‘aman’ or ‘peace’ to the people after he invaded Delhi but unfortunately it didn’t go the way he had thought. Some incidents made him unleash unimaginable horrors on the citizens of Delhi.
The big trees in the fenced enclosure are home to many birds like barbets, peacoks, bulbuls etc. Local residents often come here for picnics and children can be seen playing there under the watchful eyes of the guard. Thankfully there are no encroachments and the monument is in good condition.
The stone slab that tells about the monument needs some attention and the writing is faded and hardly visible at many places.
I remember reading about mosque of Darwesh Shah in nearby Gautam Nagar and it is on my ‘to visit’ list. So are some of the lesser known small monuments around this area.
I am reading up about my city and will post again ina few days. Meanwhile I visited Sunder Nursery and was enchanted with it. Will do a post soon. You can still look up my Instagram account for some pictures from there.
Spring in Delhi is always beautiful so leaving you with some gorgeous flowers I saw there.

Delhi Monuments – Ambling Through Deer Park & Hauz Khas – 1


It is a daunting task to write about the monuments of Delhi, their historical and architectural importance, about the city itself especially if your knowledge is limited. I have some books marked for reading this year but I love dilli and often wander into its lanes, bylanes, parks and ruins to get narrow the distance between what was and what is.

Hauz Khas ruins have always been a favorite destination but I never really got around to look at them from a blog post point of view. Hardly clicked photographs or wrote about them. The old monuments were more of a refuge when I wanted to escape from madding crowd. Deer park too was a runaway place where I could spend hours with myself without any intrusion.

Since Adi shifted to HK and my visits became more regular to the area I decided to list and visit all the  monument in HK and surrounding Green Park etc. The walks started with Chor Minar. You can read about it HERE.

The places on my list are:

Hauz Khas complex with The tomb of Ferozshah and other structures, Baag – i – Alam Gumbad and the walled mosque (Humayunpur), Kali GumtiBarah Khamba, Biran Ka Gumbad, Dadi Poti ka Maqbara, Choti Gumti, Sankari Gumti, Idgah of Kharehra, Nili masjid, Munda Gumbad, Hauz-i-Alai to start with.

I have covered a few  of these and will write about each in the coming days.

Deer Park Monuments – Baag – I – Alam Ka Gumbad and The Walled Mosque

Deer park was once known as Bagh -e- Alam ( ‘Garden of World’ ) and lay between Sultan Allauddin Khilji’s Siri fort and Hauz – i – Alai now popularly known as Hauz Khas Lake which was the largest man made water body of that time. Even the garden was the largest one built outside Khilji’s city known as commonly referred to as dar-ul-Khilafat later known as the city of Siri. Now the garden is limited to what we know as deer park and the lake is reduced to 1/5th of its original size.

Tucked in the thick vegetation of deer park are a few very important monuments and we started our exploration with he impressive BaghI i – Alam ka Gumbad and the Walled Mosque.

Bagh- e- Alam ka Gumbad is the largest of the three monuments in the deer park. It is an example of typical Lodi era architecture. The date of  its construction (1501)  is mentioned in a Persian inscription on a panel on the western wall. Delhi Gazetteer says the tomb is of a saint Shihab- ud -din Taj Khan. The panel also names the builder of the tomb as Abu Syed.

The monument is usually locked but I have heard it has a beautiful painted ceiling and tear drop patterns.

Surrounded by unruly vegetation and massive trees is this imposing structure with walled quibla or mosque on one side.  The facade of the monument gives a false impression of it being three- storey. Three sides of the monument have trabeated entrances barred with locked grill doors and the forth west one that faces Mecca has a mehrab recess characteristic of all the Lodi era structures. It is decorated with Quranic inscriptions.

Similarly like all Lodi era structures this too is built with locally quarried red and grey stone blocks intricately placed together to create a stunning patchwork. There are arched windows over the entrances. The entrances and the windows are set within a larger arched niche which is further placed in a rectangular frame projecting outwards through the wall face. The Eastern wall has stairs to the roof. I tried to peer through the grills to get a glimpse of the roof but the interior was shrouded in darkness and nothing was visible so I just walked around to see the gumbad from other angles. It is then I spotted a parakeet happily settled in one of the arched niches.

The dome springs from a sixteen-sided drum. The roof and the drum (base) of the hemispherical dome are decorated with a line of battlement-like ornamentation called kanguras.

The walled mosque 

The Lodi era wall mosque next to it has five-mehrab niches pointing towards Mecca. It is flanked by beautiful octagonal domed towers on either side with arched entrances build within them.

The central niche is flanked towards its back by turrets. The central of these niches is the largest both in terms of height and width. The smaller niches were build  probably to keep little lamps at night. The Quibla’s large courtyard has two neat rows of unknown graves and the place resembles more of a cemetery than a mosque. One can see beautiful leaf motifs on the entire length of the wall.

I watched the play of light and shadows on the leaf littered floor of the courtyard. Even though the plaster has peeled off at many places giving a glimpse of the rubble beneath this structure is still in a better condition than other monuments in the vicinity. The whole area is thickly shrouded by foliage from all sides overshadowing most of structure.

A little ahead is a newly constructed modern enclosure that houses hundreds of hamsters and rabbits.  We walked passed that to an open area where a cricket match was in full swing. I could see the Kali Gumti as we walked on a pathway shaded by lush Ashoka trees.

For some reason we did not go to the gumti and Tohfewala Gumbad hidden in thick foliage. I will be writing about these two separately. From there we took the trail to the deer enclosure and then to Munda Gumbad.

Munda Gumbad 

Munda Gumbad or the bald dome is a ruined pleasure pavilion on top of a grassy hillock. It was once in the center of the lake and was connected by a causeway to the city. Now it  lies at the edge of the lake. The headless or domeless structure can be accessed from all four sides by a of stairs. Made of rubble masonry the structure is believed to have two storeys. Now just a ruin it still has a aura around it and once can stand there and look at the green waters of the lake and across it he back of Tughlaq’a tomb and walls of the madarsa.

Hauz – i – Alai or Hauz Khas Lake 

By the time we were through with the Gumbad the sun had completed its journey. The green waters of the serene lake shimmered in the golden sunlight as the sun bid farewell. We walked along the lake admiring the marooned dried trees, sunken boats, fountains and the gorgeous reflections of the sunset.

At some point we sat down to talk about the  hauz i alai in its hay days when Khilji constructed it in 1295. This largest man made reservoir acted as water catchment for southern part of the city. It is believed that originally the reservoir spread over 123.6 acres and was 13.1 ft deep. Now it is just a quarter of its original size.

Once the Khilji empire declined the reservoir got neglected and mostly silted up. It was taken over by encroachments till Firoz Shah Tughlaq came to reign and took charge to de-silt, clean and clear the clogged inlets and repair it to be used again. He named it Hauz Khas and built a madarsa ( Islamic seminary) and some other structures including his tomb at its edge.

The Northern limb of the Madarsa – e – firoz Shahi (1352), a medieval center of learning, starting from the Tomb of Tughlaq on the left as seen from the water reservoir Hai- i – alai or Hauz Khas lake.

The entire complex of structures built by Tughlaq in the 14th century make this area along the lake stunningly beautiful.

Taghlaq”s Tomb

Tughlaq was by far the most prolific and far sighted builder in medieval North India and his love for architecture can be seen here in abundance. He carried out a lot of public work projects especially in the area of irrigation. We will discuss those in the upcoming posts.

The lake or tank, its water channels are still a very impressive sight.

We left the park from the Hauz Khas village end and headed back towards Sakri Gumti. I will do a post on those structures later. The complex is one of my favorites and there was a time I would spend hours wandering in the midst of this ruined glory.

 

 

Stay tuned for more on Hauz Khas complex and some other monuments in the vicinity. Stay warm and keep the spirits high. I will update this with better photographs of the monuments as and when.

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 7 – रात आईना है …


 

रात आईना है इस शहर की बेख्वाब आँखों का
शाम ढले जब धुप का आखरी उजाला
पेड़ों की टहनियों में सिमट जाता हैं तो ये शहर
किसी पेंटिंग की तरह रहस्मयी हो जाता है
बची खुची रौशनी लैम्पोस्ट के नीचे
सिमट जाती है और समय अँधेरे कोनों
या भूले बिसरे हाशियों में छिप जाता है
सूखे ठूँठ सी खड़ी इमारतें अपननी थकी आखें
बंद किये अँधेरा ओढ़ अचेत सी सो जाती हैं
और फिर उभरने लगते हैं अक्स उस दिल्ली के
जो दिन में अपनी तन्हाई समेटे ताकती रहती है
टुकड़ों में बंटे एक अजनबी से आसमान को
शहर की इन बिखरी सड़कोंऔर सुनसान
चौराहों पे मैं भी इन्हीं अक्सों में ढूढ़ता हूँ अपना
खोया हुआ वो अक्स जो अपना सा तो है पर
है फिर भी बेगाना, ढिबरियों सी टिमटिमाती
रौशनी में आता है नज़र आता है स्लेटी खंडहरों के
खूँट पे टंगा तनहा सा इक शहर उतार फेंका था
कभी जिसे और आती है नज़र एक सांवली सी नदी
राह भूली बाँवरी सी, पेड़ तोड़ देते हैं क़तारें
स्याह सड़कों के किनारे, चहचहाते डोलते हैं
पंख सी बाहें पसारे, सप्तपर्णी सी महक
उठती है हवा, रात में ही सांस लेता है शहर
थकन की चादर बिछा कर, फ़िक्र ज़माने की छोड़
है कोई सो रहा वो देखो चाँदनी को ओढ़
कुछ ख्वाब औंधे हैं पड़े उस पुराने बरगद परे
गीत कोई गा रहा है याद के पनघट ख़ड़े
सड़क किनारे बैठ पी रहा है कोई ख्वाबों की चिलम,
उठ रहा है धुआं सुलगते आलाव से कहीं
लिए सोंधी सी महक एक गुज़ारे वक़्त की
दिन की दमकती जिल्द में क़ैद सफहों से
झांकते हैं सूखे हुए लम्हे, कुछ भूले हुए
रुकए और मिटटी के सकोरों सी बिखरी
हुयी कुछ यादें, रात आईना है उन्हीं तवारीख़
के टुकड़ों का, तुम भी कभी खाँचो में बंटे उजालों से निकल
थाम लेना स्याह सा कोई इक छोर और फिर मिलना
उस दिल्ली से जो कभी हमारी थी

 

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 6 – दिल्ली ६


आज युहीं पुरानी दिल्ली की उन जानी अनजानी
तंग गलियों में लौट जाने का मन हुआ
गलियां ऐसी की लखनऊ की भुलभुलैया
फीकी पड़ जाये, चांदनी चौक मेट्रो स्टेशन
से उतर हम भी हो लिए लोगों के उमड़ते
हुजूम के साथ, नयी दिल्ली का नक्शा
चाहे बदल गया हो यहाँ कुछ नहीं बदला
नूर से नहायी सहरी की सुबहें, इफ्तार
की पाकीज़ा शामें और जामा मस्जिद की
सीढ़ियों पे रेकॉर्डतोड़ गर्मी से बेपरवाह,
बेफ़िक़्र खेलते नन्हे रोज़दार जिन्हें
इंतज़ार है तो बसआने वाली ईद का
आसमां पे वही ढलते सूरज की लाली,
शाम ए इफ्तार की रंगत में सराबोर
बाज़ार, ख़ुशी से दमकते चेहरे,
मस्जिद से आती आज़ान की गूँज
दरगाह हज़रत सरमद शहीद
की जाली से बंधे लाल धागे में
लिपटी एक बाली और इबादत
की रौशनी से गुलज़ार मेरा मन
आज भी उर्दू बाज़ार से मटिआ महल
और चितली क़बर से हवेली आज़म खान
तक सिवइयों की खुशबू से महकती दुकानें
याद दिलाती हैं दोस्तों की वो अड्डेबाज़ी,
वो लौंग चुरी कबाब और कालना स्वीट्स
की पनीर जलेबी, वो लज़ीज़ निहारी कुलचे,
हाजी मोहम्मद अनवर की मिर्च मसाला बिरयानी,
कूल पॉइंट का शाही टुकड़ाऔर नवाब कुरैशी
का प्यार मोहब्बत मज़ा, वो तुम्हारा नज़रें बचा
फतेहपुरी मस्जिद से निकलना और तुम्हारे
इत्र की खुशबु से मेरी सांसों का महक जाना
मेरा तुम्हें चुपके से बालियाँ थमाना ओर
इसी बहाने तुम्हारे नाज़ुक हाथों का
छू जाना, गुड़ के शरबत सी मीठी
तुम्हारी हंसी, चूड़ियों की वो खनखनाहट
और चाट के तीखे मीठे सकोरों के बीच
कभी यूँही शरमा कर तुम्हारा मेरी बांहों में सिमट जाना
और ऐन मौके पर अशरफ चचा का बिज़ी हो जाना
जुगनुओं सी चमकती रात में जब हम आखिर जुदा होते
तो चचा अक्सर पैसे लेना भूल जाते, तुम नक़ाब ओढ़ना
और मैं घर का रस्ता भूल जाता
अब न तुम हो न फुर्सत के वो दिन रात है
और न ही वो दोस्त और न ही चचा जान
पर आज भी मैं शाहजानाबाद की इन रंगीनियों में
खिंचा चला आता हूँऔर यादों की मश्क़
कंधे पे उठाये यूँही हर नुक्कड़,
हर दर ओ दरवाज़े, हर झरोखे में

बस तुम्हें ढूढ़ता हूँ

इस कविता के बारे में कुछ कहना चाहूंगी | जयश्री शुक्ला से हमारी जानपहचान फेसबुक से हुई और ठोस ही समय में हम अच्छे दोस्त बन गए | जयश्री लाजवाब तस्वीरें खींचती हैं जो दिल्ली के हर रूप हर देखे अनदेखे पहलु से हमें रूबरू कराती हैं | आप उन्हें इंस्टाग्राम पर फॉलो कर सकते हैं. रमज़ान के इस पाक महीने में उनकी तस्वीरें देख मन उन्ही शाहजहानाबाद के गली कूचों में खो गया और कुछ यादें ताज़ा हो गयीं | कुछ फेर बदल कर इस कविता में हमने उन्हें ही संजोया है | इस इंस्पिरेशन के लिए जयश्री का तहे दिल से शुक्रिया |
अमिताभ मित्रा भी ऐसे ही हमारे एक कवी दोस्त हैं. पेशे से डॉक्टर हैं पर क्या खूब पेंटिंग करते हैं| कभी रंगों से तो कभी शब्दों से | कविता की दो लाइनें उनके एक अंग्रेजी कविता से प्रेरित हैं. तो उनका भी बहुत शुक्रिया |

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 5 – महरौली


 

 

बचपन में दिल्ली रिज पे रत्ती बटोरा करते थे
कॉलेज में दोस्तों का हाथ थामे किसी टूटी मुंडेर पे बैठे
क़ुतुब मीनार को ताकते या आवारगी के आलम में
युहीं फिरा करते, कीकर, बबूल,बिलाङ्गड़ा, पिलखन
के दरख्तों और जंगली झाड़ियों के बीच
हज़ारों बरसों की यादों को सहेजे मेहरौली की
संकरी गलियाँ, दरगाह, बावड़ी, मस्जिदें और मक़बरे
हमें शहर के शोरशराबे से दूर सुकूं का अहसास दिलाते,
आज फिर सोहनलाल की खस्ता कचौरी खाने निकले तो मन
रबड़ी फालूदा, समोसे चाट पकोड़ी कबाब, नहारी,
कोरमा और खमीरी रोटी की खुशबुओं में खो गया,
अलाई मीनार के पास निगाहें चुड़ैल पापड़ी पर
सदियों से बसे जिन्नो को फिर ढूढ़ने लगी पर
नाग फूल पर जाकर अटक गयीं और फिर
बड़े पीलू की बूढ़ी हड्डियों से सरसराती हुई
बेर के पेड़ में उलझ गयीं, बस यूँही पेड़ों की
परछाईयों में लुकते छिपते तुम कागज़ पर
नामों की लिस्ट बनाने लगे- ढ़ाक, रोंझ,
करील, देसी पापड़ी और न जाने क्या क्या,
तुम्हें पेड़ों से लगाव था और मैं मेहराब, गुम्बद,
दर-ओ -दीवार, झरोखों और जमाली कमाली
के खंडहरों में खो जाना चाहती थी,
जहाज महल, ज़फर महल, औलिया मस्जिद
की रूह को छूना चाहती थी, सैरगाहों, इबादतखानो,
हवेलियों में बीते कल को ढूढ़ना चाहती थी,
मोहम्मद शाह रंगीले की रंगों में रंगना चाहती थी,
मैं इस शहर की नब्ज़ टटोलना चाहती थी,
मेहरौली की वक़्त से भी लम्बी दास्ताँ इन धुल भरे
पत्थरों में ज़िंदा हैं और उसी की नब्ज़ पर हाथ रखे
हम चल पड़े,आँखों में रेत सी चुभती भद्दी नयी इमारतों,
कूड़े के ढेर और झाड़ झंकाड़ के बीच आखरी सांसें लेती,
अतीत की उन अनछुई दस्तानो को परत दर परत खोलने
युहीं घूमते फिरते हम सूरज गुरुब होने से पहले
पहुंचे ख्वाजा बख्तियार काकी की दरगाह पर,
सैर-ए-गुल फरोशां की यादों से मन महक उट्ठा ,
लोभान और गुलाब की खुशबू ,पेड़ों पे पंछियों का
कोलाहल, जाली में बंधे मन्नत के धागे, रौशनी की दुआ
के सजदे में झुके सर और क़व्वालों की गूँज से मुबारक
समां में बंधे हम मोहब्बत और अमन की शमा दिल में लिए
शाम के गहराते सायों में घुल गए और यूँ ख़तम हुआ
एक और दिन दिल्ली की गलियों में