Delhi 360: Mazhar Ali Khan's view from the Lahore Gate (Hardcover)
By J. P Losty
Publisher: Roli Books - 2011
Made in 1846, the painting commonly known as ‘The Delhi Panorama’ by the famous topographical artist Mazhar Ali Khan is the finest artistic rendering of Shahjahanabad ever made. It also affords a unique glimpse into the heart of the imperial palace in the Red Fort before much of it was destroyed after the 1857 Uprising. The 360o view of Delhi along with its extraordinary detailing of the cityscape makes the panorama not just an important historical document but also the masterpiece of its artist. The 5-metre long panorama, which is in the collection of the British Library since 1981, along with all the Persian and Urdu inscriptions has never before been published complete. Its publication here is accompanied by essays that put the panorama in its historical and artistic context with a commentary on the inscriptions that brings it to life.
The book will appeal to scholars of Indian history especially Mughal history; anyone with a deep interest in the art, architecture, and history of Mughal India; and all Dilliwallas.
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Dehli, That Town Which Was
Audacious in scale, the panorama made by Mazhar Ali Khan in 1846 gives a 360-degree perspective of the Red Fort and Shahjahanabad.
By PAVAN K. VARMA, Outlook India
Shahjahan decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi in 1638. A decade later, he made a triumphant processional entry through the Lahori Gate to his dream abode. The city it now overlooks—call it Shahjahanabad—took another ten years to fully come up.
The envy of the world when Shahjahan was ensconced at the Qila-i-Mualla, Shahjahanabad saw a precipitous decline within a period of 200 years. In 1857, the last of the Mughals, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was exiled to Rangoon and the Red Fort became a magazine and a garrison for British troops. Exquisite marble pavilions were pulled down to create barracks. Entire parts of the city were demolished and the city changed beyond recognition.
Mazhar Ali Khan, one of the great painters of the period between 1803 and 1857, when the British took charge of the city and the Mughal king was reduced to being a pensioner, was commissioned by the British Resident, Thomas Metcalfe, to do a series of paintings on different buildings and monuments of the city. This was a period when British rulers still had a certain respect and curiosity for native culture and commissioned artists like Mazhar Ali to record for their own memory and for people ‘back home’ the architectural marvels of the city.