An urban village is a type of urban development that often features mixed-use zoning, good public transportation, medium-density housing, and a focus on pedestrianisation and open space. New Urbanism and smart growth ideologies developed in the United States are strongly tied to the modern urban. Urban villages are sometimes viewed as offering a remedy for the decline of community that is frequently connected to modernism and sprawl. The idea is to create better-functioning communities by drawing inspiration from the social and physical morphology of the typical rural hamlet. Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City ideas, which likewise emphasize environmental determinism in connection to community, have impacted the urban village movement. By promoting social interaction, urban design strategies like public space and pedestrianization help to promote the growth of communities. Many characteristics of this concept are also found in the new urbanism school of thought. High-growth rural areas in the central quadrants and along highway corridors were targeted early on in Delhi’s development to become a suitable capital city. Over time, ‘lal dora’ land—non-agricultural land—in historically rural villages like Hauz Khas or Chhatarpur and Chirag Dilli, as well as some forest land—have been altered to make room for urban tenements.

Chirag Dilli: The Illuminated Lamp of Delhi - Sheet1
Chirag Dilli Entrance Gate_©MohdAfzalKhan2023

Establishment of Chirag Dilli

A Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of Islam from the 14th century, Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud (R.A) Chirag-Dehlavi was a mystic poet. He was Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s student and eventually his successor. He was the last significant Sufi of the Delhi-based Chishti Order. His Persian name, Roshan Chirag-e-Delhi, which translates to “Illuminated Lamp of Delhi,” which means “Chirag-e-Dilli” was given to him by Dehlavi’s supporters. Chiragh, Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud born around 1274, in Ayodhya-Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh. Yahya Al HASANI, the grandfather of Dehlavi, and Shaikh Yahya Abdul Latif Al HASANI moved from Khorasan, in northeastern Iran, via Lahore before settling in Ayodhya-Faizabad, in Awadh. Both men traded in pashmina. When his father passed away when he was nine, he was educated by Abdul Karim Sherwani and Iftikhar Uddin Gilani. He moved to Delhi at forty, where he studied under Nizamuddin Auliya. Dehlavi remained there for the remainder of his life as his student and, following his passing, succeeded him. He eventually gained recognition as a poet in Persian. At the age of 82 or 83, he passed away in 17 Ramadan 757 Hijri or 1357 CE, and he is buried in a section of South Delhi, India, that bears his name: “Chirag Dilli” which is become his identity in the modern day and the whole urban village is known as “Chirag Dilli.”

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Dargah of Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud (R.A)_©MohdAfzalKhan2023

Present Scenario

It is difficult to visualise that the claustrophobic Chirag Dilli formerly housed a magnificent fort with the sizable ground, lush meadows, and water features. The modern urban town, located adjacent to Greater Kailash, is bounded by four entrances and the ramparts of the fort wall in the shape of a square. While one of the western end’s entrances was lost to urbanization, the other three are disintegrating. Without assistance from a local, it is challenging to navigate the village’s labyrinthine alleys. The sewer system is inadequate, and the lanes are filthy. Large open spaces have been consumed over time by unchecked buildings, making it difficult to preserve its illustrious past. The community still honours its patron saint Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud Chirag Dehlavi. The enormous oak tree in the centre of his mausoleum, behind which people used to unwind in the summer, is still there. Old-timers say that many people sought safety in the dargah after the Partition. A sizable number of Jat and Gujjar people live in the area. Born and bred nearby, Khemchand Ahlawat, 92, said, “Even today, when our kids get sick, we take them to the dargah. Actually, after visiting the shrine, people become better. The Khirni tree, as old as the shrine, is still present in the dargah. Additionally, its fruit is thought to possess medicinal qualities.

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Heritage Entry of Chirag Dilli_©MohdAfzalKhan2023


The majority of the streets have mixed-use construction. Due to its strategic location, proximity to employers, and availability of reasonably priced rental housing, Chirag Delhi acts as a hub for employment. Numerous attorneys are attracted to the region by the Saket Courts’ proximity to find housing. Also residing in this region are some immigrants from the nothern states. Many of these residents support the production and selling of Chinese cuisine products. The settlement’s biggest Chowk is found outside the Chirag Delhi Dargah. The old well there has recently been covered for safety reasons. The area around Bazaar Chowk in the town has the highest concentration of business activity because of its proximity to the Dargah. The presence of grocery stores, vegetable markets, and restaurants influence the area’s character. The main problem in the village is unemployment. Many people fall prey to addictions to drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Due to the purchase of property in 1953, there has been a significant shift in the occupation of farmers, which is one of the main causes of unemployment. Due to the loss of their traditional livelihood, the villagers either rely on rental income or look for work in the city to make ends meet.

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Nursury of Chirag Dilli_©MohdAfzalKhan2023

Conclusion: Findings of Chirag Dilli

Based on the facts acquired about Chirag Delhi and comparison with Other Places,” it is clear that Chirag Delhi exhibits traits of heterotopias.” It should be noted that most of these traits apply to most urban villages in Delhi. The dominant trend is that older, financially stable families are being replaced by younger, economically less secure male labourers who are travelling from neighbouring states in search of work as low-cost labour. Unlike their elderly neighbours, these inhabitants don’t feel a deep emotional attachment to the neighbourhood. They are eager to continue living their lives just like the rest of the city. As their financial situation improves, they will leave Chirag Delhi for a higher quality of life. So, it’s essential to look over the Chirag Dilli for its better future and possibilities; otherwise, it will become the hub of rentals, rooms, and hostel only, which will diminish its identity and the illuminating lamp that is ‘Chirag Dilli” will be blown up.

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Entrance of Dargah_©MohdAfzalKhan2023.

Reference list:

Dehlvi, G.R. (2016). Mystic Mantra: Chiragh-e-Dehli – An illuminating lamp of Delhi. [online] Deccan Chronicle. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2023].

‌Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Urban village. [online] Wikipedia. Available at:

‌Victor, A. (2020). The importance of maintaining the urban villages of Delhi. [online] Latest Real Estate News, Articles, Property Insights. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2023].

‌Wikipedia. (2022). Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2023].

‌Hindustan Times. (2016). Chirag Dilli’s legacy lost in maze of lanes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2023].

‌Chirag Delhi and its precincts Site Specific Design Study Part Wards Number 189 (Greater Kailash II) and Ward Number 191 (Shahpur Jat) acknowledgements. (n.d.). [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2023].

Image list:

  • Chirag Dilli Entrance Gate, MohdAfzalKhan2023
  • Dargah of Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud (R.A), MohdAfzalKhan2023
  • Heritage Entry of Chirag Dilli, MohdAfzalKhan2023
  • Nursury of Chirag Dilli, MohdAfzalKhan2023
  • Entrance of Dargah, MohdAfzalKhan2023

Architect Mohd. Afzal Khan graduated in Architecture with Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia – New Delhi. He has been enthusiast to uncover in architecture research work with a boundless passion to know more about the same. He has been fascinated by the historic nature and interest to discover the same.