Harsh's Library

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

By: William Dalrymple - Read: May 5, 2024 - Rating: 10/10

Delhi: The City of Jinns is an enthralling exploration of New Delhi, the capital of India. This book captivates with its rich narrative, weaving tales of the city's many rulers and their inevitable downfalls, attributed to the Jinns believed to govern the city. According to folklore, these supernatural beings ensure that no ruler can hold Delhi for long—a pattern repeated through the eras of the Mahabharata, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, and the British.

The book offers poignant insights into the impact of major historical events, such as the British Raj and the subsequent Partition—a division that dramatically reshaped the city’s demographic and cultural landscape. The transition from a city dominated by art-loving Mughals to one filled with Punjabi refugees post-Partition illustrates a profound shift in the city’s character.

Delhi's history of wealth and cultural richness, as experienced by European travelers during the Mughal era, contrasts sharply with the tales of suffering and change. The narrative delves into the reign of Tughlaq, notorious for his daily executions, and the brutal conquest by Nadir Shah, which led to unimaginable carnage.

William Dalrymple masterfully recounts the evolution of Delhi through vivid stories and historical insights, making it an essential read for anyone fascinated by the resilience and transformation of this great city.