City of Djinns

City of Djinns
William Dalrymple's City of Djinns,

Wrapped in layers of history and mystery, the travelogue will make you fall in and out of love with Delhi

Labanya Maitra
November 06 , 2020
01 Min Read

When people talk about the magic of a city, hyperbole seems to be the running theme. But when it comes to the enigmatic city of Delhi, there simply has to be a driving force behind its rich, and rather violent, history. In his timeless travelogue, City of Djinns, William Dalrymple gives a—if not factual, definitely romantic— explanation, of sorts. 

Dalrymple met his first Sufi—Pir Sadr-ud-Din—in the citadel of Feroz Shah Kotla, who told him about the city’s magic. “Delhi,” wrote Dalrymple, “was a city of djinns.” 


“Though it had been burned by invaders time and time again, millennium after millennium, still the city was rebuilt; each time it rose like a phoenix from the fire.” 

Dalrymple peels back Delhi’s layers of history like an onion. He starts with the Sikh riots of 1984, through the partition, the British, Mughals, the Sultanate, all the way to the Pandavas’ Indraprastha, weaving in his own experiences along the way. He makes you fall in and out of love with the city but never ignores the mysticism surrounding it. 

“You could not see them,” he wrote of the djinns. “But if you concentrated, you’d feel them; hear their whisperings, and even sense their warm breath on your face.” 

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