The best part about living in a city like Delhi is that even if you can’t travel for a while, its heritage structures, markets bustling even during a pandemic, sprawling green spaces and uncyclable roads will keep the itinerant thirst quenched (as shameless side note, read Aman Nath’s ode to the historical character of modern Delhi). But after about two months of our stepping up our shopping routines, walking tours and excursions, and thronging its famed markets with watchful derring-do, the pandemic seems to be rearing its spiky-bob head again. With the second wave (or third, based on what paper you read) here and the AQI worsening, our little attempts at rebellion will have to wait.
But those of us who waste no time in seeking comfort in books, old photographs—and vintage maps—don’t have it so hard, as I realised, leafing through Pilar Maria Guerrieri’s gorgeous 2017 hardback Maps of Delhi. Naturally, I let myself be carried away and sought out the esoteric circles of the cartography cult that the internet affords us. It is fun discovering that the noisy village in the underbelly of your fancy residential locality existed when the latter was still a field half a century ago. It is thrilling to secretly hope to name your future café Delly/Delli—the version most pre-19th century maps have. Here’s a curated list of resources full of maps from Delhi’s past.