A broad path off the Mathura Road near Humayun’s Tomb leads to the purana golchakkar (old roundabout) of Nizamuddin Basti. A peepal tree — which is surrounded by a boundary wall done up in ornate blue, red and white tiles — marks the starting point of Nizamuddin Basti heritage walk. The walk is being organised by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) as part of its three-day Nizamuddin Basti Mela, in collaboration with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It started on Friday and will conclude on Sunday.
Though the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb has always attracted hordes of tourists, the basti — despite its heritage, architecture and culture — has remained a blind spot on visitors’ maps.
“So the AKTC got the idea to organise heritage and Sufi walks in the basti,” Amir (23), a volunteer, said.
The 80-minute heritage walk takes visitors through the narrow, serpentine lanes of this old settlement centered around Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s shrine.
Whether it is the arched gateway reportedly built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century or the phoolwali gali that once used to be lined with flowering trees, or the Kalan mosque, the walk takes visitors down the memory lane at every bend.
Visitors also get a glimpse of local traditions during the walk — such as unmarked graves of people wishing to be buried next to their saint and the Qawwali hall that serves as the graveyard of the Nizami family.
Visitors can also see Alvi Chowk, Imam Bargah and walk through attarwali gali. The local cuisine of Khamiri rotis, kebabs, biryanis and kormas all add to the essence of the walk.
Poet Ghalib’s grave, Mazar-e-Ghalib, and the ornately designed tomb and madarsa of Akbar’s foster father Atgah Khan also feature in the itinerary.
The tour concludes at the famed 64-pillared hall, Chaunsath Khamba, where Akbar’s foster brother Kokal Tash is buried.
Another heritage walk, known as Sufi walk, takes visitors through the shrines of lesser known Sufi saints and concludes with a qawwali session in the Dargah.
This time, the fair has been organised by residents. The fair will also have cultural programmes like stilt puppetry, dhol tashe musicals, malang qawwalis, music by Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan as well as dastangoi performances and musical narratives by the children of the basti.