I often wonder what makes a city? What lies at the heart and soul of it? Is it the people that inhabit it and the generations worth of stories? Or is it the houses that add that touch of both old and new to a city or the monuments and architectural gems that lend it a sense of history and culture?
Like many authors, I would like to believe that cities are like people, with their own unique characteristics and personalities, their own quirks and charms, their own fears and desires, as well as their own possibilities.
As Roman Payne says in Cities and Countries, “Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveller. Depending on the city and on the traveller, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality.”
Delhi, too has its own inevitable charm, for some, it is their home, some look at it with a nostalgic lens, others as travellers, some as years of their college lives and some in awe of its history and monuments. There is something about Delhi, that makes everyone its own. Exploring Delhi in all its glory and charm are these archivists on Instagram that are documenting the city.
I. Delhi Houses
While modern architecture, with its bent toward minimalism and clean-cut designs, largely defines our imagination of city houses today, there is something about the charm of old houses in the way that they add character to a city. Perhaps it’s because old houses offer a story of the city’s past and its people. Revelling in this blend of vintage aesthetic and modern sensibilities is the page Delhi Houses which is an attempt at archiving modern Delhi houses. Documenting the many houses of Delhi, the page is a mediation on the ruining mansions of Chandni Chowk, the rooftop jallis and the love stories there, the misplaced identity of the Nouveau Riche and the idea of homes and attachment among other things.
II. My Home Is Khan
Founded by Abhinav Bamhi, a resident of Khan Market, the Instagram page My Home Is Khan captures the contemporary shopping arcade (regarded as one of the posh-est) in all its glory. Established in the 1950s the traditional marketplace is a shopper’s paradise, with its high-end boutiques and stores, gem stores and other such storefronts. But what also define the charm of Khan Market are the many eateries and cafes that light up its alleyways and the defining independent-family run bookstores— Faqir Chand and Sons and Bahrisons Booksellers that have been there for over half a century. The page captures all that Khan Market is — vibrant, alive and charming.
III. Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein
In an interview with the BBC, 28-year-old Abu Sufiyan said “There is only one thing that motivates me-the passion for the city. Delhi is a city of unending mysteries.” The culture revivalist’s page Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein (In the Words of Old Delhi) on Instagram captures Old Delhi, the former Mughal capital with its narrow alleyways, lesser-known temples, the crowded streets filled with food and tiny shops that fill up its lanes along with the iconic architectural gems of Red Fort and the Jama Masjid mosque. An archival heaven, his page is a deep dive into the history of the area, the many crumbling havelis or mansions there and the delicious delicacies that have become synonymous with the area.
Check them out here.
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