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Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli

by Ragini Puri
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27th December was iconic poet Mirza Ghalib’s birth anniversary, and so I was at his restored haveli again, marvelling at his works, and conjuring up pictures of his time spent in the haveli. This haveli in Gali Qasim in the Ballimaran area of old Delhi was once in shambles, and it’s only been a few years when the Delhi government restored it and made it moderately presentable. Ghalib wrote some of his best poetry here and this haveli’s address was later immortalised in one of the best works of the Ghalib of our time – Gulzar Sahab.

In his ‘A Portrait of Ghalib’, Gulzar Sahab thus describes Ghalib’s haveli –

Ballimaran ke mahalle ki wo pechida daleelon ki see galiyan 

Saamne taal ke nukkad pe bateron ke posheede

Gud-gudaati hui paan pi peekon mein wo daad wo wah-wah
Chand darwaaze par latke huye boshida se kuch taat ke parde 
Ek bakri ke mamiyaane ki awaaz 
Aur dhoondhlaayi huyi shaam ke be-noor andhere 
Aise deewaron se mooh jod kar chalte hain yahan 
Chudi-waalan unke katri ke badi bee jaise 
Apni boojhti hui aankhon se darwaaze tatole 
Isee be-noor andheri see gali qaasim se 
Ek tarteeb chiragon kee shuru hoti hai 
Ek quran-e-sukhan ka safa khulta hai 
Asadallah Khan Ghalib ka pata milta hai.

Sharing here a few photos of the now-famous and much-frequented haveli. The restoration work has put the place in some order though a STD/photocopy booth in one corner of the haveli mars the romance quotient of the place.

 Gali Qasim Jan, indifferent and encroached upon

The plaque announcing the importance of the havelil

The first look from the doorway

Renovated room, with a new marble bust of Ghalib

The bust, installed in 2010 was commissioned by Gulzar sahab

The room walls have photographs of his other houses on display

His famous couplets too are displayed on the walls

There’s a lot of Ghalib trivia too – about his life and times

Many of his couplets are framed and hung on the walls across the haveli

For those who have never wandered inside the tricky lanes and by-lanes of Chandni Chowk, finding this haveli can be somewhat tricky, but ask around and the friendly shopkeepers would guide you down here in no time. More on Ghalib and his haveli in the next post.

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