City of Djinns

Wrapped in layers of history and mystery, the travelogue will make you fall in and out of love with Delhi
William Dalrymple's City of Djinns
William Dalrymple's City of Djinns

When people talk about the magic of a city, hyperbole seems to be the running theme. But when it comes to the enigmatic city of Delhi, there simply has to be a driving force behind its rich, and rather violent, history. In his timeless travelogue, City of Djinns, William Dalrymple gives a&mdashif not factual, definitely romantic&mdash explanation, of sorts. 

Dalrymple met his first Sufi&mdashPir Sadr-ud-Din&mdashin the citadel of Feroz Shah Kotla, who told him about the city&rsquos magic. &ldquoDelhi,&rdquo wrote Dalrymple, &ldquowas a city of djinns.&rdquo 

&ldquoThough it had been burned by invaders time and time again, millennium after millennium, still the city was rebuilt each time it rose like a phoenix from the fire.&rdquo 

Dalrymple peels back Delhi&rsquos layers of history like an onion. He starts with the Sikh riots of 1984, through the partition, the British, Mughals, the Sultanate, all the way to the Pandavas&rsquo Indraprastha, weaving in his own experiences along the way. He makes you fall in and out of love with the city but never ignores the mysticism surrounding it. 

&ldquoYou could not see them,&rdquo he wrote of the djinns. &ldquoBut if you concentrated, you&rsquod feel them hear their whisperings, and even sense their warm breath on your face.&rdquo 

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