Rana Safvi is a writer and historian. She joins Yusra Hasan to discuss her latest book Shahjahanabad: The Living City of Old Delhi, the final installment in her illustrated series of books on Delhi.
“Shahjahanabad is a city with a continuous history,” the writer says, explaining the title of the book. “It still has a link to its past and some of the buildings are continuously inhabited from the 17th century.”
The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who founded the city, imagined it as a place where justice reigned. “It is the duty of the emperor to give justice, that’s the same thing reflected in the Orpheus Panel,” she says.
And women, Safvi says, had a key place in the imagination of this city. “Today when you think about Shahjahanabad, the first thing that you say is Chandni Chowk. That was built by Jahanara Begum,” she notes.
Calling for the conservation of the old city, Safvi contends that by preserving monuments we not only safeguard a piece of historical and architectural memory but a specific culture as well. “It’s about preserving memories that were created inside that room, good or bad,” she says.
Text by Aryan Mudgal.
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