Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti - Apni Basti Mela

The annual community Mela (fair) organized at Hazrat Nizamuddin basti in New Delhi is a great initiative undertaken by Aga Khan Trust for Culture as part of their urban renewal project. The second edition of the mela truly represents and displays the rich cultural, architectural, culinary, musical, literary and craft heritage of the basti which goes back some 700 years in the past.
The poster of Apni Basti Mela 2012

    Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is thronged by visitors from across the country in large numbers. The
    mausoleum complex also is the last resting place of Hazrat Nizamuddin's disciple and renowned sufi poet
    Amir Khusro.
   Exquisite art of Arabic Calligraphy on display at the Mela

   Local children participating in Educational games

    Mazaar of sufi poet Amir Khusru

    One of the famous poems of Mirza Ghalib inscribed on a plaque near his grave. It reads thus:

          "When nothing was, then God was there
            Had nothing been, God would have been;
            My being has defeated me
           Had I not been, what would have been"

    The master Kebab shop - Ghalib Kebab Corner, winner of kebab festival organised by Hotel Maurya
    Sheraton, serves mouth watering and succulent buff kebab served with mint chatni and shallots.
    Kebab's skewered on barbecue.
    Succulent Kebab's - mouth watering

   Last resting place of the greatest Urdu poet - Mirza Ghalib is located in the basti
    Stalls of Rose sellers are lined on both side of the alley leading to the Dargah entrance
    The Dargah courtyard.
    Humayun Tomb, the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun is located in Nizamuddin. It is a UNESCO
    World Heritage site and has been painstakingly restored through generous efforts of the Agha Khan
    Trust for Cultural

The Mela thoughtfully conceptualized by a team of enterprising folks under the able stewardship of Ratish Nanda of Agha Khan Trust with generous collaboration of the Archaeological Department, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India and the residents of the basti very emphatically tells us that even a local community initiative in a mega city can be a destination for discerning traveler.
          The Mela ground wore a festive look

The 3 day mela this year aimed to encourage outsiders to participate and integrate with the basti residents in order to understand and respect the 700 year old living cultural heritage of the basti Nizamuddin. Heritage walks curated and led by the group of talented local youths, craft demonstrations - calligraphy, Sanjhi - the paper craft, embroidery and crochet work, wood crafts, perfumes, theatre, Qawwali and Dastangoi performance, cuisine and cooking classes by the local chefs were part of the fair. 
    Sanjhi - the paper cutting craft developed and practiced by the basti dwellers has generously borrowed 
    the motifs from the nearby Humayun's Tomb which now adorns note books, planners, greeting cards and 
    even lamps. 

The Niazi brothers performed during the concert of sufiana kalaam in the forecourt of the gem of a mausoleum - Chausath Khamba. On the last day the famed duo of Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain enthralled an eclectic audience with dastan-e-Chaubuli, a Rajasthani folk tale narrated in their classic style in the chaste Urdu. The audience could not have asked for a better finale for the Apni Basti Mela.  
   The magnificent backdrop of Chausath Khamba was the ideal stage for a performance of Dastangoi
    Mahmood Farooqui (right) and Danish Husain (left) performing Dastangoi 

Hazrat Nizamuddin basti can rightfully claim to be the cultural hub of New Delhi. It boosts of being the abode of Humayun Tomb, a UNESCO world Heritage site, mausoleum of the great sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin, the sufi poet Amir Khusru and the greatest Urdu poet of all times - Miraz Ghalib. The basti does not only dwell in the past but also has a beautifully laid out Sundar Nursery which is undergoing transformation under the Agha Khan Trust for Culture, once ready this would be the place for evening soirees and fine dining.    

This basti certainly has a bright future and could well become a prototype for future development of similar culturally rich zones in the city and the country. 

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