Events Archive

Watch The Sahar Magazine in Conversation with Ali Khusro Zaidi, the caretaker of the century-old Maktaba Jamia Bookstore, reported by Deepak Yadav and co-directed by Divyanshi Mahawar and Aman. Coming soon!

12 June 2023

On the 12th of June 2023, the Sahar Magazine, in accordance with the theme of its first issue, “Human World”, set out on a heritage walk to cover the Bijay Mandal Fort and Begumpur masjid in Malaviya Nagar and the Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk.

Our goal was to observe the effects of administrative neglect and environmental decay on these medieval structures, and primarily, to juxtapose the contrasting ways in which the Begumpur and Jama Masjid have fared into modern times. And yet for all our academic tenor, we were overcome by a transient journey through the culverts of history, amazed by both the resilience and ignominy that emerged from the ebbing of time.

Raised around the fourteenth century, the Bijay Mandal Fort and Begumpur Masjid of Jahanpanah are the few ever-dwindling vestiges left of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s legacy as Sultan of Delhi. And while Jama Masjid, a newer addition to the city’s history, has skyrocketed to international acclaim and visits, Begumpur has fallen into place as a quaint meeting place for locals to gather, the courtyard a provision for children’s play. The only media attention Begumpur garners these days merely dwells on the sheer magnitude of indifference the monument is subject to as if the attraction of some grotesquerie.

The stories we had read of Begumpur’s gradual strangulation came alive on our visit with the sight of overgrown weeds, a rat infestation and indiscriminate littering, not to mention the impairment of the building itself. Yet wandering its halls we recognised the unmistakable signs of a greatness once past. The Masjid’s architectural finesse (of a unique Iranian instruction) is unquestionable and as we left we couldn’t shake the conviction that the mosque deserved better than its tragic lot.

In Chandni Chowk, the Jama Masjid is the soul and blood of every man’s life. The numerous bazaars and businesses that sprung up over the years have turned veins to a cultural mechanism at whose heart thrives this Mosque. There, it was exactly to note these transformations over the course of a century that we strove for.

At the end of our humble pilgrimage, we stood straddled between the two contradictory worlds of Chandni Chowk and the medieval city of Jahapanah, and yet we couldn’t shed an eerie recognition of Begumpur’s past reflected in the streets of Chandni Chowk or an even troubling picture of what Jama Masjid could turn to be in the echoes of Jahanpanah.

To read the comprehensive piece borne out of this heritage walk, check out our first issue, “Human World: A Global Account of the World and Our Relationship with Nature”.