Ishq-e-Dilli or a love affair with Delhi is not your regular son et lumiere. I am completely in love with the show and have introduced many a souls to the show. If you keep on reading my travel chronicles sooner or later you will find yourself enjoying the spectacle of ishq-e-dilli and invariably you cannot help falling in love with Ishq-e-Dilli and the city which it celebrates.
The capital city of India, Delhi has many a history waiting to be told and explored. Delhi a modern city is one of the biggest metropolis of the world. This city has been built upon the ruins of many of its ancient cities. These ancient ruins scattered throughout the entire city is remnants of many an eras bygone. Each and every one of these ruin points to either a glorious or a bloodthirsty tale. One of the best places to witness the history of Delhi is the magnificent Ishq-e-Dilli at Purana Qilla. The show is a blast of colors and music beautifully weaving the history of Delhi from the Pandavas of Mahabharata to the internet savvy youth of today’s generation.
Now each of these earlier cities of Delhi have to a large extent influenced the culture of the country. However delving into the history of delhi in detail is not the topic for today. It is simply to celebrate love for delhi or as they say ‘ishq-e-dilli’. The production values of the show are simply amazing. An ancient ruined front of a fort wall cannot be put to a better use. The blast of colors to recreate the history of bygone eras is brilliant.
The story starts with The Tomars building Lalkot in 11th century. Prithviraj Chauhan follows it up by making Qila Rai Pithora his own in 12th century. The Slaves led by Qutub-ud-din Aibak ruled Delhi until dethroned by Khilji’s who built the city of Siri in 13th century. Khalji’s were usurped by th Tughlaq dynasty whose fort Tughlaqabad never took off. Jahanpanah and Ferozabad were also inhabited by the Tughlaq’s in the 14th century. Sayyid’s and Lodi’s came and went subsequently handing over the reins to Mughal’s. Humayun built Dinapanah on the Purana Qila grounds and was defeated by Sher Shah Suri who established Shergarh and expanded Dinpanah. The Mughal’s came back and established Shahjahanabad which is known as Purani Dilli. Subsequently Nader Shah’s plunder, Ahmed Shah Durrani’s raids, Maratha resistance, first war of independence were all witnessed by the purani dilli.
If there is a semblance of a thought that the show is all history, it can’t be further from the truth. From the poetry and musical rendition of Amir Khusro’s “Chhāp tilak sab chhīnī re mose nainā milāike” to the amazing verbal duels of Hazrat Nizammudin with the Tughlaq king leading to the legendary exchanges “Hunooz dilli door ast” and “Ya rahey ujjar, ya basey gujjar” the show has it all.
Indraprastha tales captures the greatest Indian epic and the victory of good over evil. The revelation was the fact that the grounds where the show was performed was the scene of many famous tales from Mahabharata. The story is nicely told though is placement in the show is probably one of the only weak points in the plot. On a separate note ASI is doing large scale excavations within the perimeters of the Fort. What treasures it may unearth is anybody’s guess. Though with the rich heritage of the place it surely could be something to look forward to.
The tale continues to the 10th Delhi as we know it today ‘New Delhi’ architected by Edward Lutyens. At the stroke of the midnight on 15th August 1947, the Viceroy House became the Rashtrapati Bhawan and so on. The tricolor unfolded and apart from the fact that an entire nation experience unbridled joy, it also brought many refugees with untold miseries to the lawns of Purana Qila to seek succour.
Delhi may be progressing leaps and bounds into the future, however Purana Qilla holds the keys to its past. No better way to re live the history than to watch Ishq-e-Dilli. If you are a lover of delhi you will fall in love again. You will be welcomed by delhi as the oft repeated saying in the show goes to every new conqueror ‘Ek aur Delhi ka deewana delhi fateh karne aaya hai‘.