Kucha Pati Ram: A peaceful street surrounded by dilapidated, deserted havelis in the middle of chaotic Old Delhi

  • Jan. 22, 2024, 12:17 p.m.

Within the busy and cacophonous lanes of Sita Ram Bazar in Old Delhi is a hauntingly serene enclave called Kucha Pati Ram, characterized by dilapidated and abandoned havelis.

The kucha, or street formerly housed a flourishing community of affluent businesspeople, is now deserted; the original residents have long since passed away, and their offspring have relocated to more "modern" areas of the capital.

Nevertheless, the street is proud to have a few old-timers who have held onto its vintage character. Shanti Swaroop Khandelwal, 94, has lived in Kucha Pati Ram his entire life, and he is one of them. "That is where it was said that Pati Ram used to live," he continued, pointing to an old haveli at the end of the street. He stated that he was a man who safeguarded everyone in this community and found solutions to their difficulties. This is the reason this lane is thought to bear his name. However, none of us can pinpoint exactly when this occurred.

The 300-year-old Haksar Haveli, the venue of Jawaharlal Nehru's marriage and the country's first prime minister, is another impressive structure here.

"Moti Lal Atal moved to Delhi around 1850, and purchased the large mango garden and the retreat belonging to a courtesan of the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, which later came to be known as Hauz Qazi area including the present Bazar Sita Ram area," states the book Kashmiri Pandits: A Contemporary Perspective by M L and T N Pandit. Seth Sita Ram bought the largest piece sold off around 1865 and constructed Bazar Sitaram, which is thought to have been Delhi's first urban colony.

Khandelwal laments that "people don't seem to know the history of where they live" while seated next to his haveli, a three-century-old building distinguished by complex decorations on the exterior, a pastel-green weather-beaten wooden door adding charm to the surroundings, and a wooden fence. "Even though families have owned these havelis for many generations...They do not know how the name of their street came to be. Additionally, I think that the increasing urbanization of Delhi is taking away from the city's historic beauty," he continued.

"Patiram is believed to have been a wealthy trader who gave his name to the locality, which has as its neighborhood Koocha Pandit, where the Kashmiris came and settled down during the reign of Shah Jahan after he moved his capital to the newly-built Shahjahanabad," R V Smith wrote in his book Delhi: Unknown Tales of a City.

The author went on to write: "The Pandits first resided in the Kashmiri Bazaar of Agra, but they later moved to Chillint Ghatia, where they were joined by the Rainas, Kauls, Kunjhrus, Dars, and Nehrus. In actuality, Motilal Nehru was born in Maithan, which is nearby. Jharpal Nath Nehru wed in Sita Ram Bazar.

Author and historian Sam Dalrymple shed more light on the lane's history on Instagram when he stated, "Kucha Pati Ram is one of the last stretches of Old Delhi that is still entirely lined with old sandstone havelies." Kucha Pati Ram, as its name implies, was one of the wealthiest Ram shrines in the Mughal capital.

Numismatist and amateur historian Shah Umair stated to The Indian Express that "the precise history of this kucha is not properly documented."Here near Kucha Pati Ram, a temple was constructed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Jains, Kashmiri pandits, and Banias transported the havelis to Shahjahanabad when the Muslims were driven out following the 1857 rebellion.

"The Kucha is littered with glorious bania havelis, depicting Krishna or Ram on their sandstone doorways and small temples," Dalrymple said in his post. Many people who once lived in Old Delhi have moved beyond the walled city due to the ghettoization of the area, traffic, and a lack of parking options. The Havelis are deserted, waiting for Delhi to realize its passing splendor once more.

 

Author : Rajdhani Delhi Representative

Rajdhani delhi representative

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