Centre for Community Knowledge


Ambedkar University Delhi


Performing the 'Songs of Delhi' : Madan Bala Sindhu, a theatre and music artist represents residents of Delhi who migrated into the town around 1947 from Punjab or western India, with her repertoire of Punjabi and Sindhi songs usually sung in family events like weddings. Her troupe also makes renditions of the popular Hindi poetry of Amir Khusrau and other Delhi poets. Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan has been trained in Hindustani classical music under his grandfather Ustad Chand Khan and several uncles belonging to the illustrious Dilli gharana. He features songs composed by many poets and composers of Delhi.

The Dara Shikoh Festival


As a city whose modernity is built by generations of migrants, this festival sought to showcase the multi layered diversity of Delhi through stories, images and music that describe how the city spaces are shared and experienced, both in the past and present. 

This annual festival draws public attention to the lesser known or forgotten aspects of this diversity that makes up Delhi today. It will be remembered through images, texts and music/songs that carry within them aspects of the city’s past. For example, in music, the festival has looked at a range from folk to semi classical/classical and even wedding songs. Similarly, images of the people in the city have covered personal photos to tourist, calendar and religious art, documents and artefacts from personal collections. In addition, the festival has also included scholarly consultations on ways of documenting, preserving and sharing the diversity of intangible memories and tangible records that make up the memories of the city of Delhi. 

An objective of this festival has been to bring attention to the life and times of Dara Shikoh (Mughal Empreror Shah Jahan's eldest son), and through it illustrate the syncretic aspect of public and personal life in historic Delhi, with the hope that these activities initiate a public connection between AUD and the Dara Shikoh building on campus, with the historical heritage of the city. 

Dar-e-Shikoh : The Dara Shikoh Festival of Delhi 2015

(27th March to 6th April)

​The first Dara Shikoh Festival, held in spring 2015 showcased aspects of Delhi heritage and highlighted aspects of Dara Shikoh's life and his contributions to society through his political and literary pursuits.

This festival, held around the Dara Shikoh Library building in Ambedkar University Delhi's Kashmere Gate campus, featured stories of history through theatre and music. The festival put together a sound and light installation around the building evoking the era and a musical journey through 17th century Mughal India.

The festival featured the following programmes:

  • The Dara Shikoh Library: Worlds - Sound and projections around the histories of the building (A collaborative effort by Team CCK, Priya Sen and Shaahkar Siddique)
  • Dastangoi: A biographical piece on Dara Shikoh, performed, conceived and scripted by Ankit Chadha in collaboration with Supriya Gandhi. (Dastangoi is a 16th century Persian and Urdu oral storytelling art form)
  • 'Dara Shikoh', Heritage Theatre by Darwesh: A theatrical telling of Dara Shikoh's life, recounting some known and lesser known tales that shaped the course of Dara Shikoh's life. 
  • Musical arts of Delhi (17th and 18th centuries): Irfan Zuberi in conversation with Geetanjali Tyagi will train their focus on the different musical practices and transitions within musical traditions at the time.

The Dara Shikoh Festival of Delhi 2016
(21st to 24th September) 

The second edition of The ‘Dara Shikoh Festival 2016’ focussed on the lesser known and forgotten aspects of the diverse histories and lived memories of Delhi in the form of an exhibition: “Camera Dilli-Ka – A Delhi Photo Archive 1880-1980” and a cultural evening featuring songs about the city, from the city.  

The festival featured a range of events, some of which were held in collaboration with the festival 'Jashn-e-Aman' organised by the NGO, STEP. Some of them have been listed below: 

  • Exhibition: Delhi Visual Archive 'Camera Dilli-ka' : Photographs of the city and its people 1880-1980 revealing the lived memories of Delhi, especially featuring photographs from the Narain Prasad collection archived by the Centre for Community Knowledge at AUD.
  • Talk by Dr. Sudeshna Guha on
  • Cultural evening: Songs of Delhi: Madan Bala Sindhu and friends perform folk and popular songs; Iqbal Ahmed Khan of Dilli gharana performs traditional music of Delhi
  • Inter college puppetry competition
  • Workshop - Master Class Puppetry with Mr. Gunduraja
  • Workshops on Archetypes and Epic Narratives by Vikramjeet Sinha
  • Mahabharat Puppet Show by Katkatha​​

The library building was completely illuminated with lights and projections every evening of the festival.

Ankit Chadha performing dastangoi called 'Daastaan-e Dara' at the site of the library building.

The panels from the exhibition, 'Camera Dilli-ka', across Ambedkar University Delhi Kashmere Gate campus, showcasing lesser known histories through photographs. 

Ankit Chadha and Supriya Gandhi discussing the life and times of Dara Shikoh.

The inter-college puppetry competition and Mahabharata performance by Katkatha were held in collaboration with the month-long festival during September 2016, titled, Jashn-e-Aman. 

During the sound-and-light installations every evening, a few thematic short films were screened on the walls of the building. 

One of the installations, a 'Speaking Tree' allowed the audience to listen to audio files evoking the music, ambience and cultural confluence that depicted Dara Shikoh's philosophy.

The Dara Shikoh library building, built in 1643,  has seen many residents since the execution of Dara Shikoh. The British Resident David Ochterlony has added a European style front facade. After significant damage during the 1857 revolt, the building has housed an Anglo-Arabic School and is now in the custody of the Department of Archaeology (Delhi Govt). The multiple lives, untold stories and contemporary use of this building have been the subject of many discussions at the Centre, and the starting point of the Dara Shikoh Festival of Delhi.

The guard at the Dara Shikoh building performing his couplets during the festival in 2016