City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

William Dalrymple

Language: English

Pages: 350

ISBN: 0142001007

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

William Dalrymple

Language: English

Pages: 350

ISBN: 0142001007

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


 Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi's centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven "dead" cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city—today's Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city's Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.

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to the Shaykh, the first step of Sufism was not related to Friday prayers or empty rituals, but with the mastery of the maxim: ‘Whatever you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not wish it to happen to others; wish for yourself what you wish for others also.’ Nizam-ud-din ate little, saying he could not swallow food when so many starving people slept in the streets or in the corners of mosques around him. Anything he was given he distributed to the poor, irrespective of whether they were

Kipling, Simla was a place of illicit romance. In story after story of Plain Tales from the Hills, the same plot repeats itself. After the sweltering boredom of the plains, the young officer goes up to Simla, where, bowled over by the sudden glut of young English beauties, he falls in love with a Mrs Hauksbee or a Mrs Reiver: ‘He rode with her and walked with her, and picknicked with her, and tiffined at Peliti’s with her, till people raised their eyebrows and said “Shocking!”’ Today it takes a

threshold. The sadhus invite the bard to join them on the condition that he amuses them with tales of his travels. Ugrasravas tells them that he has just returned from the great battlefield of Kurukshetra and agrees to tell the story of the apocalyptic war which reached its climax on those plains. He introduces the epic by emphasizing its sacred power. ‘A Brahmin who knows all the four Vedas [the Hindu Old Testament] but does not know this epic, has no learning at all,’ he says. ‘Once one has

figurehead, left to console himself with drink, opium and his harem. Eventually, however, Safdarjung overplayed his hand. His arrogance and bullying alienated the Imperial family; and in their desperation they called in the armies of the Hindu Mahratta Confederacy from the Deccan to help rid them of their troublesome Vizier. In the Civil War that followed, as rival armies from all over India converged on Delhi, Safdarjung was finally driven out of the capital. He returned only in death when his

provided by the Mughals’ own court chronicles and their miniature paintings. The picture that thus emerges of the tensions and jealousies in the Imperial family has a grand, almost Shakespearean feel to it: the Emperor Shah Jehan governs the Mughal Empire through its period of greatest magnificence. He moves the court from Agra to Delhi and builds the Red Fort in the centre of the new Shahjehanabad. But then, despite the gloss given by the court flatterers, the unspoken tensions in the palace

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