Most Delhites are unaware of the richness hidden in the gallis of Nizamuddin basti: dargahs, tombstones, mosques, culinary delights, qawallis, the ruins of Barakhamba and Chausath Khamba. To give visitors a glimpse of this hidden world, the youth group in the basti began Shan-e-Nizam. In exchange for a small fee, they will take you around the basti and show you their neighbourhood. If you are lucky they may even invite you to their homes. What better way of seeing the basti – through the eyes of the residents.
The tour draws attention to the normal and routine moments of the basti: the vendors selling sewiyan, the calligraphy and attar shops, the tombstones of unknown ancestors, children enjoying themselves on a broken cart. Interactions with residents make the basti come alive and give it a soul that leaves behind a lasting impression that cannot be captured by a camera. It is the experience of everyday life from the perspective of the basti youth that makes this tour unique. There are also special tours on festivals such as Moharram, Shabbe raat and during the month of Ramzan.
The Hope Project,
127 Basti Hzt. Nizamuddin,
T: 11 24356576, 24357081, 24353006
Atgah Khan's Tomb
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The tour lasts about one and half hour.
- Dargah Hzt. Inayat Khan
- Musafir Khan road to Baoli gate
- Baoli gate to 64 pillars
- 64 pillar to Mehboob hotel
- Mehboob hotel to inside basti (nal wali mosque)
- Nal wali Mosque to Tilak wali gali
- Tilak wali gali to court
- Court to Imam Bara
- Hope Project
Qawwalis happen in Dargah Hzt. Inayat Khan on Friday evenings only. Those who want to join qawwali in a very peaceful environment should come for the walk on Fridays. Once they finish the walk visitors can come to the dargah and listen to qawwalis.
Apart from these points, there are few more interesting points but they are not included in this walk as they require more time. These include:
- Dargah of Hzt. Nizamuddin
- Tablighi market and Calligraphy shop
- Another old ancestral graveyard in Gadariya wali gali
- Dargah of Pir Vilayat
- Hope Project
“I consider it a privilege to be taken around by Mehtab and to experience the basti through his eyes”
Mrs Gwaines, USA
“Although we live in Delhi, we would never have discovered the world within the basti had it not been for this opportunity” Marianna Bahri
“I will never forget the spirit of the place, the Shrines, the pearls of architecture and the Holy Blessing, which I felt all around”
“You have made me look into your world – with patience and understanding. Together we passed through history, culture and day-to-day situations. I felt safe and privileged to have met you.”
“It was great to see a corner of Delhi that one normally would never see. Thank you for showing us the real Delhi”
Students from Germany
Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin, a 14 th century village grew around the shrine of the Sufi saint Hzt. Nizamuddin Auliya (1236 – 1325) . Today this pilgrims’ destination has become a predominantly Muslim “urban village” filled with congested, narrow lanes, scattered tombstones, bustling markets and mosques.
Although Nizamuddin Basti is one of the more fascinating destinations in Delhi, it remains little known. Most Delhiites have not ventured further than the famous restaurant, Karims.
The Shan-e-Nizami program of the Hope Project aims at enabling the residents of the basti to discover the richness of their unique basti and share it with the rest of the world. As part of this initiative, the basti youth have started a guiding program. Although Nizamuddin basti is not on the itinerary of the regular tourist, there are several foreign as well as domestic visitors, who are looking for something more “real”. The basti gives them an insight into the way people live, the sights, smells and sounds. Instead of focussing only on the dates, emperors and dead monuments – information that anyone can get from a guidebook – the tour draws attention to the normal and routine moments of the basti.
More importantly, this program has enabled the basti boys to appreciate their basti better and to develop a feeling of identity and a sense of pride as basti residents. The guiding program is an attempt to involve the residents, especially the youth, in representing and taking care of their own heritage.