City of djinns: chapter 8 summary

In this chapter, William reignites the ancient city of tughlakabad and jahanpanah founded by the tughlakdynasty.

Tughlak as a ruler was very blood thirsty. Cruel punishment were the order of the day like a mystic forced to eat excrement, a general flayed alive etc. This militaristic outlook was present even in the most important building called tughlak fort , meant to protect them from the invasion of mongols. Connected to the fort, is a pyramidal red sandstone topped with white done defended by walls on all sides which guards the remains of its kings zealously. Jahanpanah was a city founded by the second tughlak called Muhammad.  He enclosed all the old cities within jahanpanah by building a giant wall. Here, the main attraction is the begampur mosque known for its utter simplicity and magnificent symmetry of arches, cupolas, light color. Sadly, the medieval city is now a modern sprawl.

Then he goes to hauz khaus region known for a beautiful tank. There was also a prestigious madarasa known for its symmetry, wide courtyard, sumptuous menu, curriculum having religion, astronomy and also medicine. Eastern medicine called unani fascinated the author. He considers it to be holistic healing, not just eliminating disease. It relies on finding out the unique pulse of the patient and giving them indigenous herbs which as a trade secret along with chanting. He explores the unani practiced in old Delhi. It had actually worked for their friend navina who suffered from a inflamed tendon.

Nizamuddin, the Sufi saint was alive during tughlak era. He cursed tughlak that his city will be abandoned, so did it happen. He was a secular mystic, practicing simple living, prayers, love for god. His tomb is still a popular site for believers to ask for their wishes by tying threads, offering shawl and flowers.  There is a famous singing called qawaali to honor the saint. It is also believed by some people that the saint spirit still hovers the tomb in different ways-sitting, in dreams depending on the level of faith. William also meets a mystic called pir Sadr ud din. He is proficient in capturing evil spirits called djinns. He also says that Delhi doesn’t die because djinns keep on rejuvenating it after every destruction. William attends the annual urs festival in Ajmer where many devotees go for wish fulfillment.  He wishes that he sees a dervish whirling which gets fulfilled during a qawaali.



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