Monday, 9 March 2015

A ‘Holi’Day in the Life of Delhi – Photo Essay

March 2015

Delhi is best explored in the afternoon of Holi. The weather is perfect. Roundabouts of Lutyens’ Delhi are a riot of colour. Roads are empty as people are busy getting grease out of their hair. Remaining folks are in stupor from the after effects of bhaang thandai. As evening descends Delhites wake up and make their way to Rajpath.

Well there were some Holi Revellers on the Road!
You leave Noida Gate to enter Delhi. Usually this place is screaming with vehicles. Today you stop to take photos.

Noida Gate - Entering the City of Future
Crossing the Nizamuddin Bridge, brings you to Purana Qila walls. The Qila-i-Kohna Mosque looms majestically over the Pragati Maidan Parking. 

Qila-i-Kohna Mosque built by Sher Shah Suri in Purana Qila - One of the prettiest mosques in Delhi

At the Bhairon Nath Ji Pandav Temple, where devotees offer liquor, the beggars are more than usually tipsy and happy.

As you turn right on Sher Shah Marg towards India Gate, you see some repair work has started to prop up the Lal DarwazaASI has finally woken up. 

Lal Darwaza or Sher Shah Gate
As you turn left on the India Gate hexagonthe Jaipur House built in 1936, now housing the National Gallery of Modern Art with Amrita Shergill’s self portraits, looks regal. You will visit it again in leisure.

National Gallery of Modern Art
The NDMC Magic on the roundabouts start playing out as you turn left into Akbar Road.

As you head towards Teen Murti, excitement grows. These are the streets you grew up on and spent your first nineteen years.

Teen Murti is where you rolled down the grass embankments feeling the cool grass on your face during summers of long ago.

Teen Murti
And went wide eyed looking up at the stars in the planetarium in Nehru Museum, formerly Viceroy's House.

Teen Murti and Nehru Museum

Rashtrapati Bhawan - View from Teen Murti
Rashtrapati Bhawan peeps at the end of wide boulevards. South Avenue is where you came to get DMS milk and later Mother Dairy vegetables.

Rashtrapati Bhawan - View from South Avenue
You find yourself near your old school in Chanakya Puri. The only piece of popular culture of your generation, the Chanakya Theatre is gone. We have fond memories of Chanakya & Nirula’s - James Bond movies after your boards and burger at Nirula's. You want to see what has replaced it. 

Apparently some multiplex / mall is taking its place. In today's world, there is no place for sentiments.

New Construction at site of Chanakya theatre
The area had two big hotels - Ashok Hotel few kms away and Akbar Hotel next to Chanakya. You have no idea what fate has befell Akbar Hotel. You can see laundry drying in the balconies!

Laundry hanging from balconies of Akbar Hotel

In an apparently vacant lot, the swish Leela Palace Hotel has come up.

Leela Palace Hotel in Chanakya Puri
Just beyond, Nehru Park stretches along the entire length of Niti Marg on one side and Vinay Marg on the other. Nehru Park has so many memories. During summer weekends you would come here for ice cream. School picnics were held here. You can still see yourself rolling down the grass mounds. Sometimes all you have are memories.

 Nehru Park in Chanakya Puri New Delhi

You are lucky or what? NDMC is holding its fourth annual flower show.

First Prize Winner – at Nehru Park New Delhi

Almost look like roses!

Flowery Zoo!

It is time to move to the embassies area of Chanakya Puri. The Diplomatic Enclave is as pristine and colourful as it was when you bicycled along these roads on your way to school.

Diplomatic Enclave in Chanakya Puri, New Delhi

A new entrant into the embassy scene – Embassy of the State of Palestine

The windows in the British School look interesting.

You see signs for Karol Bagh which lies just beyond the ridge that runs like the backbone across Delhi. What! You have not seen Buddha Jayanti Park even once!? Well its beautiful; families are out enjoying their post Holi picnic on the grounds.

Buddha Jayanti Park, New Delhi

Even the dogs are bhaanged out - at Buddha Jayanti Park

You cross Talkatora Stadium and turn into North Avenue. Rashtrapati Bhawan is again peeping from the far end. You have driven 180 degrees. It looks majestic whichever way you look at it.

Rashtrapati Bhawan - View from North Avenue
You turn left into Church Road. On the left is easily the most handsome looking church in Delhi - Cathedral Church of Redemption.

Cathedral Church of Redemption, Church Road, New Delhi
Directly opposite, in the President Estate is the Jaipur Column.

Parliament House comes into view.

On the right is Central Secretariat – a major bus stand in those days. Still remember taking bus to school and practically everywhere to Delhi from here.

Central Secretariat
Behind you on on the left is Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.

Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib
Flashing lights of a cavalcade push you away to a side road – no photos as you are not sure when the trigger might go off but you happen to see an interesting looking building.

On the Sansad Marg the familiar looking RBI building comes into view.

Reserve Bank of India Building at Sansad Marg
Dusk is setting in and you run along Rafi Marg and Raisina Road to come to Vijay Chowk. You reach in nick of time as the molten Sun drops behind the Raisina Hill. It is a an awe-inspiring view and never fails to amaze you - the best view in the world.

Down the Rajpath, India Gate beckons.

And then the event you were waiting for, finally happens. The brilliant moon appears in the skies. It seems to be suspended over the road and looks beautiful.

Crossing Yamuna, you see the Akshardham Temple twinkling.

 Akshardham Temple in Delhi
A little ahead, you climb the Mayur Vihar overbridge for a better view of the lights. 

Looking towards Akshardham - the temple is on the left
The metro goes whizzing on the right.

You take this walk around New Delhi every year around Holi for the familiar roads, the landmarks, the flower ornamented roundabouts, the vibe, the trees, the red sandstone and the sameness. While Delhi changes beyond imagination elsewhere, here you always find the same familiar Delhi. The Delhi that grows younger every year. The Delhi you always dream of - when it comes to homes, you always dream of your home at Teen Murti. It is your annual homecoming that feels like the warm, fuzzy, sunshiny blanket on your face. The walk brings back the memories of childhood days when the biggest worry was being chased by gardeners as you played cricket on the green carpeted road side.

Going to New Delhi is like a taking a trip in a time capsule. It is indescribably cathartic and rejuvenating. Now only if you forget to find your way back.   

Related Links 
Holi Day 2016
Holi Day 2018



  1. Thanks for lovely photographs complemented by description of a line or two and at times none or more! Even when I have no childhood connect with the city this blog makes me feel as if I was a fellow-traveller while these pictures were taken. I had come here first time when I was 18 years of age with parents as a Gujarati tourist. Then again only in 2003 to study for MA Social Work at The University of Delhi. Since then a lot of change I have seen. The blogger's association with the city is in deed longer by all means. This comes alive in each line he shares. Thank you for showing such beauty of your city!

    1. Hi Krinna,

      Delhi belongs to all of us - whether you were born here or you have settled here later or you studied here. Since ages, when it seemed Delhi would die off, it would rise - stronger and more beautiful. It is a lesson for all of us.

      Thanks for reading and keep walking Delhi. Delhi will love you for that.



  2. What an amazing piece Nirdesh bhai.
    As you said, it really felt like a journey through a time capsule.
    It was like reading my own story; having spent good 12 years in CP/Gole-Market/Mandir Marg area, took me back in time; Talkatora Garden/Indoor stadium , that swimming pool, and regency area with artificial waterfall, those domes near regency area overlooking the Shanker Road ridge, President estate, Birla Mandir,.
    And going to Chanakya was our favorite activity during college time, and your mention of ‘James Bond’ movie flooded my mind with tons of memories; the opening sequence of ‘Golden Eye’ flashed before my eyes, and the spending time at Nirula’s fighting over HCF, and that Nehru Park.
    Teen murti, Rastrapati Bhawan, North Avenue, South Ave, wellington crescent, and Central Sectariat ( Daftar in DTC language :-)
    I can go on and on, so I better stop.
    Yeh aapne accha nahi kiya, aaj ka saara din gaya beeteon dinon mein :-)

    1. Hi Stone,

      I remember you went delirious on my Qila Rai Pithora post on Ghumakkar. And you are again on a nostalgia trip now! Delhi has the knack of bringing up such memories.

      Yes, remember all those days so vividly – my first 19 years before we moved out of Central Delhi.

      I like going on these trips of beete dino!



  3. Sold to Delhi-hook, line and sinker.So were the dogs bhanged out on justtripping!!

    1. Hi Aparna,

      Time you went tripping in Delhi to see what you bought! Yes me and the dogs bhaanged out on justrippingg.

      Have fun!

  4. Nirdesh,

    This is an amazing set of pictures, superb!!
    Brought back some memories of my stay Delhi late 70s.
    Feel like visiting Delhi again.


    1. Hi Siddeshwar,

      Thanks - i know they would get you on a nostalgia trip. Do come visit. Delhi waits for you!