Dil wa Dilli dono agar hain kharab; pa kuch lutf us ujde ghar me bhi hain
– Mir Taqi Mir
Both heart and delhi may have been worn out, but some little pleasures still remain in this ruined house.
The Sunehri Masjid located in Chandini Chowk was built by Raushan-ud-Daulah Zafar Khan for his master Shah Bhik, a person known to have performed miracles, in the year 1721 C.E. This is known by the inscription on the central arch of the mosque. When Nadir Shah sacked and looted Delhi in 1739 C.E., it was here at the Sunehri Masjid that he took his seat and watched Delhi being massacred.
Nadir Shah looted and took back with him to Persia the famous Peacock Throne, Koh-i-Noor, and Darya-e-Noor diamonds along with treasures worth seven hundered million rupees. He also took skilled craftsmen of Delhi including 300 masons, 100 stonecutters, 200 carpenters and 130 writers.
Nadir Shah’s invasion of Delhi and the declining Mughal court gave rise to a new genre of urdu poetry called ‘shahr-e-ashob’ meaning the city’s misfortune. Two pioneers of this genre were Mir Taqi Mir (1724-1810 C.E.) and Mirza Rafi Sauda (1713-1781 C.E.). One of the writings of Mir Taqi Mir on Delhi goes as follows:
Kya bood-o-baash poochte ho purab ki sakinon;
Humko garib jaan ke hans hans pukar ke;
Dilli jo ek sheher tha aalam-e-inthekhab me;
Rahte the mutakhib hi jahan rozgar ke;
Usko falak ne loot ke barbaad kar diya;
Ham rehnewale hain usi ujde dayaar ke
Delhi, that chosen city of the world, where only those of privileged professions resided, that city that the heavens have looted and laid waste, I am the inhabitant of that destroyed garden.
a. “Monuments of Delhi: Lasting Splendour of the Great Mughals and Others. Volume I Shahjahanabad.”1997.
c. Petievich, Carla R. 1990. “Poetry of the declining Mughals: The Shahr Ashob.” Journal of South Asian Literature. Vol.XXVNo.1.
e. Naqvi, Hamida Khatoon. “Shahjahanabad, The Mughal Delhi,1638-1803 An Introduction”.