Book review: City of my Heart, translated by Rana Safvi.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Hachette India (22 October 2018)
Language: English


‘Dilli dil hai Hindustan ka’.

Through nuanced translations of four Urdu narratives spanning the period of turmoil that led to the Revolt of 1857 – and culminated in fall of the Mughal Empire – this compelling volume reveals the tragic and affecting story of a royalty in decline. Vividly documenting the twilight years of not just a historical era but also an entire way of life, these first-hand accounts – gleaned from princes and paupers alike – provide rare insight into how the royals and their subjects experienced life lived on either side of a cataclysm. Tales of suffering describe the perfidy of the British and the plight of the last royals as they are disbanded and pushed into dire poverty; livelier accounts of fealty and treachery detail palace intrigues; and nostalgic reminiscences recreate the days of past glory and communal comity – of feasting and festivals, and shared faith and devotion. An intimate chronicle of a crucial era in India’s history, City of My Heart is the saga of a changing city and a people experiencing the end of life as they know it.


As we all know, the beginning of the Mughal empire is marked by the victory of Babur over Ibrahim Lodi. The Mughal empire is the third largest empire and is also considered as ‘India’s last golden age’. This book is a translation of four Urdu texts, first hand accounts, that gives us a glimpse of the life during this period and also about the state of prince and princesses after the siege.

The book talks about how Hindus and Muslims lived in peace and harmony during 19th century. The emperor considered the entire population as equal and every festival, be it Eid or Diwali, was celebrated by all. The author also gives us a brief history of Delhi, starting from Indraprastha, city of Pandavas to modern Delhi.

The first three parts talk about communal amity and the relationship between the Qila inhabitants and general public. Details about the emperor’s routine, the way each festival is celebrated, important events in each season, and also various food items prepared for the emperor are listed. The last part is about how the princes and princesses escaped after the siege and how their fate changed.

The siege not only marked the end of the Mughal empire but the end of a unique lifestyle. The author intents to provide us better understanding of first half of the nineteenth century and change our perspectives. I was slightly disappointed because I was expecting more of a story than facts.

If you enjoy non-fiction and love books loaded with facts, then this is definitely for you.


To buy this book, click here.
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** I received a copy of the book from Hachette India in exchange for an honest and unbiased review**

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