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HomeDelhiDelhiwale: This way to Gali Mandir Wali | Latest News Delhi

Delhiwale: This way to Gali Mandir Wali | Latest News Delhi

Here’s a book binding establishment, two tailoring workshops, a travel agency, a chai stall, a computer institute, a beauty parlour, many homes, many side-lanes, a wall of lakhori bricks, a dead peepal tree, and Shri Nav Durga Mandir. This mandir gives its name to this street.

The temple of Gali Mandir Wali, in Kucha Chelan, opens only in mornings and evenings. (HT Photo)

The temple of Gali Mandir Wali, in Kucha Chelan, opens only in mornings and evenings. “The aged priest lives outside the Walled City,” says bookbinder Anil Girotra, the privileged holder of the all-important mandir keys. His large binding workshop is right beside the temple. Anil grew up in the street, but like almost every Hindu family who was living in Gali Mandir Wali, he explains, his family too moved out of the street during the 1990s. He now lives in distant Janakpuri. “The only reason for the exodus was that the area had become too congested, and people wanted to live in more khuli jagah (open spaces), outside the cramped Purani Dilli.” The gali’s present residents are Muslim, he says, except for one house with a Hindu family.

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Offering a darshan of the temple even though it is closed for the afternoon, the kind Anil pulls apart the red metal grills and opens the mandir’s door. The chamber is filled with space, silence and shanti. A series of curtained alcoves line the facing wall. Each alcove enshrines a sacred idol. “In the old times, the mandir had a tin shed above,” Sanjay recalls, glancing towards the ceiling. The new building came up in 1975, as inscribed in the foundation stone.

This afternoon, the mandir is empty but it nevertheless evokes the presence of its devotees—the walls in many places are laid with memorial plaques detailing the names of temple donors and of their loved ones: Lala Shamlal and wife Kaushalya Devi Sunej; Dharampal Singh Mahattta and his late father Seeta Ramji Mahatta; Pannalal Shivchand Rai; Lakshman Das and wife Kaushalya Devi.

The mandir’s short flight of staircase is similarly inscribed with names of peoples past: Harbans Lal Talwar and his parents Sevaramji Talwar and Kaushalya Devi; Ramchandra Yogeshwar and his parents Krishna Chandra and Hari Devi; Sheetal Prakash and his late mother Yashoda Devi; Seeta Devi, wife of late Thakur Das.

“All these people lived in the vicinity, ikke-dukke were inhabits of the gali,” remarks Sanjay.

On emerging out into the street, he stumbles into his friend Muhammed Ahsan Nawab, a publisher. “This locality is my karam bhoomi,” Ahsan says. Both graciously agree to be snapped.

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