In our ongoing ‘Walled City dictionary’ series, capturing the essence of each locality in Old Delhi, we explore Ganj Meer Khan, a neighborhood with a unique blend of modern structures and centuries-old charm.

In the midst of the suburban chaos, characterized by towering multistory buildings, one particular five-story structure in Ganj Meer Khan stands tall, reminiscent of Everest in Old Delhi’s crowded and narrow landscape. This contemporary edifice seamlessly integrates with the age-old neighborhood, providing space for essential services like a butcher, a cook, and a pharmacist on its ground level.

Further along the street, the remnants of a collapsed old house, a part of Ganj Meer Khan’s daily life, remain seemingly anchored to the land. Passersby, unaware of the surreal sight, continue their journey through this vibrant locality.

Situated near the vanished city wall of the Walled City, Ganj Meer Khan is filled with buildings distinguished by intricate detailing. Noteworthy features include a brick wall with a tiny curtained door and window, a building adorned with open-ended wooden boxes serving as pigeon houses, and an unassuming workshop concealing a serene interior filled with discarded car spare parts and the fragrance of agarbatti.

The workshop’s unpainted raw brick walls bear large cemented taaks, reminiscent of old-fashioned niches to store household items—a vanishing element in this hyperlocal architecture. The entire street, lined with numerous old houses, reveals the grandeur of at least one mansion with a courtyard, once owned by the esteemed Persian scholar Yunus Jaffery. Following his demise, the scholar’s family generously donated his valuable books to the city’s college libraries.

A local resident, perched on a parked scooter, shares the historical roots of Ganj Meer Khan. According to him, the area, named after a Mughal-era noble, was originally a village situated on the border of Shahjahanbad, serving as a suburb. This historical context adds depth to the presence of the five-story structure, typically found in Delhi suburbs, making it feel right at home in Ganj Meer Khan.

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