COURTESANS OF CHAWRI BAZAAR

Dr Navina Jafa,multifaceted historian, writer and dancer (usually found leading visiting dignitaries and heads of state on numerous walks), once again walked us through Old Delhi's multi-hued history, this time following the scintillating bells of courtesans through Chawri Bazaar. A dynamic marketplace, where today one gets to buy hardware, paper and much more, it was once home to the leading courtesans of Delhi. The narrative of the walk communicated the tradition of tawaifs and the transformation of the culture to that of G.B. Road. The walk began at Hauz Qazi and culminated at Ghalib ki Haveli in Ballimaran.

Media Mentions

Dainik Tribune

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There Will Be No Resurrection Of The Tawa'if Culture

The world of the tawa'if is not as simple as some believe it to be, that's precisely what annoys Dr Jafa. "It’s a complex terrain of gender politics, the world of public women as entertainers until about the 1950s.”

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Scintillating Tales of the Courtesans of Old Delhi

Walking through the narrow alleys of what was once Shahjahanabad, we realised that there cannot be a greater irony tucked away in the streets of Delhi than that of courtesans who lived in the lanes of Chawri Bazar, and afterwards were relocated to GB Road, the Red light area. Maybe their Thumris of love and longing were so beautiful because they were aware of the fact that love isn’t for them.

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Dr Jafa is a master storyteller and with her research of more than 15 years on the courtesans of India, this was much more than a heritage walk. I cannot thank her enough for sharing such intriguing stories and points of view with us, that are a part of her extensive research, which will soon be published in the form of a book.

Akanksha Dureja, Travel Blogger