Heritage Talk: Cities of Delhi, living without a lifeline
by Sohail Hashmi
3rd January, 2015 – Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre
We began the talk series for 2015 with a serious discussion on the use of water in Delhi, before British decided to introduce piped water to Shahjahanabad. Around 150 people attended the talk, which was held in the Gulmohar Hall of India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Mr. Hashmi has been mentoring Delhi Heritage Photography Club, www.monumentsofdelhi.com and Youth for Heritage Foundation since 2011. He was also instrumental in starting heritage talk series at the India Habitat Centre and the Photography Exhibitions at various locations. He started the talk series at IHC on 1st February 2014 with a talk on the Myths of Islamic Architecture. After a year, he returned with an amazing session on various water streams, stepped wells, water bunds, reservoirs, lakes and river(s) of Delhi.
We started this session by welcoming Sohail Hashmi. He honoured us by inaugurating this BLOG before the talk started. Talk began at 7pm and in no time, everyone was spell bound with his amazing delivery style and content. Mr. Hashmi took us through each city of Delhi 1 by 1 via his presentation and shared pictures of water bodies. Delight was to know, how these water ponds and stepped wells came into existence and the unheard stories behind them. From Qutub Sahib ki Baoli to Hauz e Shamsi and from Gandhak ki Baoli to Rajon ki Baoli, we discussed every water deposit in the 1st city. Then we moved to Siri and Tughlaqabad, talking of the amazing water barrage, sluice dams, canals and water streams like Chirag Dilli Nullah. Later we talked about Jahanpanah, Ferozabad and Dilli Sher Shahi, before the discussion focussed on Shahjahanabad. It was s surprise for everyone, when they heard that even for Shahjahanabad, water was bought in from 130 miles away, where Ali Mardan Khan turned a river and created a canal to irrigate Delhi. Water running moats and gardens of Red Fort and of Shahjahanabad was cut from Yamuna, whereas the drinking water was supplied by the canal Ali Mardan Khan built.
Mr. Hashmi also discussed all the bridges built in Delhi and how they connected important roads. He told us about how colonies like Sarojni Nagar and Sewa Nagar were built post Independence over running fresh water streams and how clean fresh Nullas of Delhi were turned into sewage drains. We also saw the only remaining fresh water stream of Delhi, which us unaffected from garbage and untreated sewage. The stream is a small branch of Yamuna, where water splits for few hundred meters at Wazirabad, to join back the main river later.
Question Answer session was a total delight. With such learned and sincere audience, the level of discussion went one step higher and as the interactive session began, almost everyone was glued to their seats. We got feedback to record and document the Question Answer session also, as it was giving much more information than what was delivered during the presentation. However, it was too late to start recording and we had to rely on the recording done by IHC of the presentation.
We started a practice of Feedback Book from this session. The book was filled with heart-warming and encouraging comments. This give us energy to work harder and keep arranging such sessions in future as well.