Mazhar Ali Khan
The town Dehli was.
When Shahjahan decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi in 1638 he named the town Shahjahanabad. The town Dehli, now named Shahjahanabad, was the envy of the world as it was the King's dream abode.
'Its towers are the resting place of the sun.
Its avenues are so full of pleasure that its
lanes are like roads of paradise.'
Chandar Bhan Brahman, a historian, described Delhi, in his words as above, in 1648, one of the golden ages of Delhi when Shah Jahan ruled his vast Mughal Empire from the Red Fort.
When the British took over Dehli exquisite marble pavilions were pulled down to create barracks for troops. Entire parts of the city were demolished and the city changed beyond recognition.
The British Resident, Thomas Metcalfe, commissioned one of the great painters of the period between 1803 and 1857, Mazhar Ali Khan, to do a series of paintings on different buildings and monuments of the city. This was a period when British rulers still had a certain respect and curiosity for native cultures and sought the services of Mazhar Ali Khan to record the architectural marvels of the city.
In 1846 it was the most ambitious and significant work for any painter. Mazhar's work almost five metres long provides a 360 degrees detailed perspective of the Red Fort with annotated details of almost all the significant monuments and buildings in vision. It provides an accurate historical record of what old Delhi was like before the savage destruction of 1857.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan