City of Djinns By William Dalrymple #writebravely

“For all its faults we love this city”-  William Dalrymple, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

I have lived in Delhi for 3 years. Despite, the city being harsh in many a ways, there is something in this city that has won over my heart. The weekend was spent reading William Dalrymple’s “City of Djinns – A year in Delhi”. The book kindled a nostalgic feeling within me, of the days I spent there, my trips to the old city, the cycle rickshaw rides and the people so very unique to this place.

Heard of Tughlakabad? Or want to know about the house built by William Fraser which is never on any itinerary of the city? Do you want to feel the life of famous structures such as the Parliament House, the Red Fort, or the old Delhi town square?

William Dalrymple takes us across the layers of Delhi and its history. Take a peek, back in time, at Indraprastha, then the city of the Pandavas, and feel the pain deep within as you read about the 1984 riots that shook Delhi. William’s book may well read like a sort of travelogue, but trust me, hidden within these very pages, is a candid and beautifully woven narration of a city and that has survived centuries of conquests, riots and battles.

William delves deep into stories of kings and rulers, Havelis to humble homes, stories of everyday people such as the landlady Mrs. Puri, the taxi driver Balvinder Singh, a mali, a sweeper and a cook. A writing style dominated with a harmless jest, the characters amuse you, yet you feel connected in some sort of uncanny way. With vivid descriptions, the book touches upon life in the old walled city, the narrow lanes amidst royalties and social pariahs. They are descriptions that give you a whiff of the charm of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, where every street is a page from history. It’s a discovery of the unknown facets of the city of Delhi. It is about unearthing and opening up of ancient documents, of undiscovered pathways in an entertaining way, in an attempt to understand the cities glorious history.

Spanning across periods of time, a writing that stimulates instead of a monotonous tone that most history books and travelogues have, City of Djinns is gratifying. For those who are nostalgic about the old city of Delhi, this is a journey you must take.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger


  1. City of Djinns is on my TBR. Sometime ago I started William Dalrymple’s another book ‘From the Holy Mountain’. It had become a somewhat heavy read for me with a lot of description about architecture – Byzantine and Islamic and I decided I could go no further. After this, I am awry of City of Djinns if it will also be on the same lines.

  2. Your review of the book makes me want to check it out. I need to read this book because inspite of living here for the past 9 years, I am yet to fall in love with it. My heart and soul belong to my birth city- Mumbai 🙂

  3. I have been thinking of reading this book for so long now, but have been putting it off with one lame excuse after another. Your blog gives me another reason to go for it. Thanks for the review

  4. City of Djinns is one book I cannot forget. Being a Delhite contributed to the fact. I love Mr. Dalrymple’s writing, the way he creates word visions . Thanks for sharing and reminding me of the book

  5. I have never been to Delhi. This book sounds like an interesting read. But of course, for someone like you who had lived there and made memories with the city, the book would be a nostalgic read, I’m sure. 🙂

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