My book, Fractured Forest, Quartzite City, is now available from Yoda Press/SAGE Select.
The book is an attempt to answer the deceptively simple question: what is the Delhi Ridge? When I first asked myself this question, not long after arriving in India's capital in 2010, I thought the answer was straightforward: it was (as many newspaper articles at the time made clear) Delhi's green lung, a huge chunk of protected forest land in the middle of one of the world's biggest megacities. But the more I dug into this question, the more tangled the issues became. The very term "Ridge" suggests geological, not ecological importance, and indeed, Delhi's protected forests zones largely correspond with the tail-end of the age-worn Aravalli mountain range (see map above). And besides these ecological and geological meanings, the Ridge has also played a surprisingly prominent role in Delhi's long political, economic and spiritual histories. The stones and soil of the Ridge, then, give us a new picture of a city whose history stretches back centuries (and whose geological history stretches back billions of years).
The book is based on over five years of research, drawing from the Delhi State Archives, from many meanderings in the present-day Ridge and from a wide-ranging synthesis of secondary sources. It thus combines first-person explorations with in-depth historical narratives to bring forth the Ridge’s complex, multi-faceted history, while also sketching out its interconnections with local, regional, national and global geographies.
Eschewing a linear narrative, the book is structured around five broad themes that all converge on the Ridge and underlie the dynamic history of Delhi: the geological; the ecological; the political; the economic; and the transcendent. Each chapter takes up one of these themes, tracing it over the longue durée of Delhi's history, sketching out moments where it becomes a decisive factor for the city's trajectory.
The French philosopher Henri Lefebvre once compared social space to a flaky pastry, with its layers overlapping and spilling into each other. In just such a way, the varied layers of Delhi's history co-mingle, embracing both the intensely local and the globe-spanning to produce the city as we know it.
Explore the book's chapters, along with the beautiful images prepared for the book by deepani seth: