Haveli of Mirza Ghalib
The Haveli of Mirza Ghalib, the famous legendary Urdu and Persian Poet sits quietly within Qasim Jaan Gali or Ballimaran Gali where ‘Gali’ means ‘Lane’ which lies in one of the lanes of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi and accessible via Metro Link with Chandni Chowk Metro Station as the nearest link and also via local taxis and auto rickshaws.
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan aka Mirza Ghalib was born on 27th December 1797 in Kala-Mahal, Agra and was a renowned classical Poet of Urdu and Persian languages during the Mughal and British reign. At the age of 13, he was married into Umrao Begum’s family belonging to the Nawab of Loharu clan and had 7 children who all died young. This devastating tragedy had brought so much pain to Mirza and clearly resonates in his Ghazals and Poems. It also greatly affected his marital relationship with his wife who was known to be very orthodox, religious and conservative in all terms opposed to his unorthodox and carefree lifestyle that included gambling and his reputation of being a ‘Ladies’ Man’ among the Mughal courtiers. His mutual and friendly rivals were Zauq famous for his amusing anecdotes and Momin who was known for his lyrical Ghazals.
The pen-name of Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan was ‘Asad’ and later he changed it to ‘Ghalib’. He is still popularly known as one of the most influential Urdu Poets in South Asia and amongst various Urdu speakers around the globe who admire his unique skill in letter writing that reflects social and political events unlike any other poets in his time and he was also known to be very unconventional in religious terms that is also seen in his work. His ‘Ghazals’ or ‘Love Poems’ were translated to English by Sarfaraz K. Niazi and published by Rupa & Co. of India and the Ferozsons of Pakistan. His book titled ‘Love Sonnets of Ghalib’ has the complete roman interpretation and transliteration along with extensive vernacular expressions and explanation.
He was lucky never having to work for his livelihood and mainly lived on his laurels, state subsidy, credits and sometimes the generosity of his friends. He spent his last few years between 1865 and 1869 in his Haveli. After his demise on 15th February 1869, his Haveli became a shopping arcade up till the December of 1999, when the Government of India acquired a part of it and renovated it in order to conserve this Heritage property and its old 19th Century grandeur which once had arched doorways and corridors on three sides enclosed within a large courtyard. This renovated portion was then converted into the ‘Ghalib Museum’ and inaugurated on 27th December 2000 on his anniversary that houses his priceless work and a few of his personal belongings. Other highlights of this Haveli include the original sandstone floors, wooden gateway entrance, the Mughal Lakhori bricks and the Chhajjas within the courtyard.
The Haveli Museum also displays letters hand written by Ghalib himself known to have been the foundation of easy and readable letter writing style in Urdu which uses sentences and words that literally converses with its reader opposed to the initial ornamental style of letter writing, books, his last photograph and couplets of his selected poems. Interestingly the government took great care and measure in restoring the portion of the Haveli back into its original form and maintaining every detail of it. They also created a life-size statue of Mirza Ghalib sitting with his Hookah in order to generate a realistic feel of the presence of this great poet giving visitors an insight to his work and a glimpse of how he had once lived during his last phases of life in this Haveli.
Mirza Ghalib’s masterpiece work of poetry and letters may have unfortunately been ignored and not so popular during his lifetime but his fame was greatly noticed after his death and recognised even today by many generations. His many works has been considered a dominant contribution to Urdu Literature and Poetry and even numerous television serials and Movies were made by legendary film makers to commemorate his work and pay tribute to him. He will also forever remain the most gifted Legendary Urdu and Persian Poet and a talented writer whose work can never be replaced, replicated nor seen in a lifetime.