Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Delhi” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,369 ratings  ·  107 reviews
I return to Delhi as I return to my mistress Bhagmati when I have had my fill of whoring in foreign lands.

Thus begins Khushwant Singh's vast, erotic, irrelevant magnum opus on the city of Delhi. The principal narrator of the saga, which extends over six hundred years, is a bawdy, ageing reprobate who loves Delhi as much as he does the hijra whore Bhagmati - half man, half
Paperback, 391 pages
Published May 1st 1990 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1990)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Delhi, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Delhi

2 States by Chetan BhagatI Too Had A Love Story.. by Ravinder SinghThe 3 Mistakes of My Life by Chetan BhagatRevolution 2020 by Chetan BhagatThe Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi
Indian Books - Fiction
173rd out of 686 books — 1,962 voters
The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaMeeting With Christ and Other Poems by Deepak ChaswalThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyTrain to Pakistan by Khushwant SinghThe Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
India's best
36th out of 74 books — 63 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,643)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
The preface declares the injecting of a lot of seminal fluid into the book - guaranteeing you the dirty old man (his sobriquet) experience, so what's not to like? Through it you witness the 600 years of history that has shaped this city - covering Mughals, War of 1857, 1984 Sikh pogrom, Untouchables, Timurids, Hazrat Nizamuddin and more, some squalid, some divine. His candid, sentimental and unapologetic outpourings reach orgasmic heights in the chapters devoted to the uncouth, rude, pock-marked ...more
I was annoyed from the first to the last page. The premise was very interesting: Delhi's history from the Mughal Empire (1526) to the murder of Indira Gandhi (1984). Chapters alternate from present time (in which we read above all about useless sex scenes among the main character and a hijra prostitute) to ancient time where the past revives thanks to the first-person narration of different characters.
I couldn't understand which was the fictional part and which were real historical events, it wa
Fathima Cader
a lot of sex (a lot of it) and a lot of death (even more death than sex). after a while, the massacres began to bleed into each other, just one slaughter followed by another. i'm not faulting Singh for this (at least, not yet because i haven't done enough historical readings on Delhi to be able to contextualise his fiction), because it does seem as though he's just plotting out the city's bloody history. so if it seems like it's an excessively macabre novel, it's because that's what the city was ...more
Aastha Sharma
This book kept me up for several nights. I never fell asleep while reading the book but the exhaustion I felt after reading about the bloody massacres that have dotted the pages of Indian history was tremendous. This is an extremely powerful book. From the invasion of Taimur to the Anti-Sikh riots, to the personal accounts of the journey of the narrator which is interspersed in the book to provide respite from the heavy heat one feels after reading about the mostly bloody and accursed history of ...more
This was so horrendously bad that I had forgotten all about having read this book. I guess my brain was trying to subconsciously suppress the memory of it. However, my brain, being the way it is, just as well randomly popped this book up at me on a Monday evening, because that is the sort of thing my brain likes to do.

'Hey, remember that one time you wasted four precious days reading this book which posed itself as a 'historical fiction' novel and turned out to be really nothing more than some
gurpreet kaur
'The world is the body and Delhi its life', said Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Delhi is still as intriguing as ever, so old and yet so new, holding within its folds history, politics, love, violence, religion, destruction and countless other emotions and stories. 'The city of dginns', by William Dalrimple helped stimulate my interest in this 'life of the world' and Khushwant Singh's ' Delhi' seemed to be an apt choice.
I guess I was holding the wrong book for the wrong reasons.... It is only a birds- ey
Farrukh Pitafi
Some day I will write a similar book about my beloved city. I promise. Don't ask which city. But I will ;)

Delhi: History in the Garb of Erotica.

History in the garb of Erotica (or is it the other way round?): Would be an apt epithet for Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh.

Synopsis: A lecherous historian-cum-writer is in a bad phase of his career that he takes a part-time job as a tourist guide in Delhi. As a guide he ensures a perennial supply of foreign memsahibs for himself with whom he has innumerable flings. He takes these tourists and his hijda mistress around Delhi for sightseeing thus visiting v
Meenakshi Kapoor
If one can tolerate the excessively elaborate accounts of the protagonist's sexual encounters, the novel is a good read to understand Indian history in a different perspective. Even if one is not familiar with the Indian History, the novel still appeals due to its accurate detailing of the location and structure of the monuments of Delhi. (No, the novel doesn't end at Red Fort and Qutub Minar). The way KS describes the by lanes of Chandni Chowk during the reign of shah jahan, or Paharganj when A ...more
It's an intriguing read. It's a controversial read. Two ppl can't read it and be left with the same set of emotions for it.

So, here is what i understand from this novel. Through this book, the author has tried to express his own feelings, his own thoughts about various incidents that took place in Delhi, going back by at least 500 years or more. This entire novel is written in the form of small autobiographies narrated by diff ppl involved with the history of Delhi like Aurangazeb, Nadir Shah et
Poonam Garvan
After I finished TRAIN TO PAKISTAN I never thought that I would read any other book by khushwant Singh( not that i did not like it ... it was fine but i lost my interest in the writer somehow). I am glad that i picked this one up. A good read after all and the way the writer traces the history with emperors, poets and soldiers narrating their tales from their own perspective. People usually say that histories are written by rulers and the vanquished are always presented in a demeaning light, but ...more
“I asked my soul: What is Delhi? She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib”

“Delhi” by Khushwant singh was the first book that I read by the dirty old man of Indian literature. The book is a fictional account of the exquisite and historic city of Delhi through his eyes. He compares Delhi to his mistress the uncouth foul-mouthed, pockmarked Hijra ‘Bhagmati’ who is dirty like Delhi, but is what he cannot get enough off. The author covers various chapters in
Rajat TWIT
Daring, intriguing, exemplary, poetic, didactic, historic and quintessentially Khushwant-esque, this book is anything but just another book on Delhi. The pukka sardar is at his best when he is describing about the wonderful and exuberant past of the city of Djinns, called Dilli or Delhi. Khushwant Singh proves why he is adored as a home-grown writer in English and proves that Literary critics will rarely promote him as a serious author. But nonetheless, his works are far more exciting than many ...more
“The world is the body and Delhi its life.”

With these words of Mirza Ghalib as its epigraph begins this colossal work on the city of Delhi spanning nearly six centuries from the reign of Ghiyas Ud Din Balban to the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the anti Sikh riots of 1984. Khushwant Singh brings the story of Delhi to life by alternating between autobiographical accounts of several characters from different eras of the history of the city and his accounts of his relationship between his he
Mayank Chawla
Delhi is quintessentially Khushwant Singh, The grand-old man of India. Delhi is a novel that quite surprised and delighted me, particularly the narration. The story of Delhi, from Sultanate days to 1984 Anti-Sikh riots has been told from the viewpoints of the important characters involved. The narration is its best part that is so exquisite that one almost feels the events taking place in front of his eyes. I specially liked the Chapters of Mussadi Lal, The Untouchables , Aurangzeb Alamgir an ...more
Rishi Prakash
Got this book from a friend and he said just read it slowly and be receptive!

KS has really done a great job by depicting a different side of the great city. It is not something which many writers have seen/shown to us.

I think Delhi is one of the best books about the city, precisely because it didn't try to mask it's repugnant ugliness beneath a mask. This book was published more than twenty years ago but it still holds a lot of relevance to the city today. You have to read between the lines, an
Ratan Sadanandan O M
I found the historical accounts in the book to be really interesting; the accounts of POV characters like Timur, Aurangzeb, Bahadur Shah Zafar and other fictional citizens from various periods between 13th century and 20th century presents different views on the historical events.It presents the history of Delhi in a different light. The accounts are interlaced with couplets and poems.

The narrative by the author is a bit drab. Be warned about superfluous description of sex in almost every chapte
Sabil Ali
This book i may not tell it is a axcellent one, But it stands out with its different kind of narration. How the present delhi is how the past was. I was always fascinated about the indian history especially about the mughal empire and sort of. He narrates the story from each persons perspective. We will get a good knowledge about indian history and it is really interesting to read because of khushwanth singhs narrational style. There were some part which described how he seduced womens and thing ...more
A bloody history of Delhi. I wish I had read a general Indian history book before this because a lot of it went over my head and so it took me a while to get through it. It was funny in parts, horrific in others. The end was so sudden. It almost felt like an entirely different book about halfway through, and not one I was particularly blown away by. But good, concise writing, with main characters I didn't exactly love but who came off the page anyway. Might come back to certain chapters when my ...more
Nishant Sharma
I picked this book because I have to appear for a test on "Medieval Delhi" and the brief to-the-point notes given by the college are too dry to chew alone. The book provides enough juice to gulp down the history of Delhi.

I loved this book whole heartily. This was my first book by Khushwant Singh. He is humorous, erotic, sad, horrifying and so is Delhi's history. Khushwant Singh is a 'Dilliwala' and knows how to tell a story. I found the book unputdownable, may be because I am also a 'Dilliwala.
Nandasiri Wanninayaka
Recently I had the chance of Kushwant Singh’s novel, ‘Delhi.’ It was an interesting read. It looks like autobiographical but I don’t think Singh did those horrible things mentioned in the novel in real. Right from the first page Singh starts his trademark humor. I wouldn’t have continued the novel if not for his humor because the novel is revolved around an unpleasant character called Bhagmati. She is a hijra (eunuch.) For a strange reason, Singh is sexually attracted to her than any other sex p ...more
This book is... complicated. It's half set in the modern-day (or, well, in some vaguely 1960s-80s sort of modern-day) and half set in various time periods in Delhi's history. The modern-day sections concern a journalist who seems to be a barely fictionalized version of Singh himself, and are mostly concerned with navel-gazing about his relationship with a hijra prostitute (hijra is a gender category in South Asia that includes what, in Western terms, would be trans women, intersexed people of an ...more
Vivek Gothwal
Its was an interesting read atleast for me. Khushwant singh has tried to tell the story of delhi through the eyes of different characters with different position and shades in the society. The emperor, the beggar, the invader, the businessman, the explorer, the untouchable, the poet each one of them was the central character in the saga of delhi. He showed delhi through their eyes and takes us through over 600 years of delhi's rih history.
Writing about History is challenging as many readers would be somewhat familiar with key dates, events and personalities involved. Also, the subject is dry. Khushwant Singh ( may he RIP) in his inimitable style easily overcomes this challenge !!

Positively gripping, He combines profane with the Profound, Sublime with the ridiculous, satire with seriousness... we fall in love with the city and the people. Written in first person, we see the past and the present(upto mid eighties) , nay live it , t
Raj Juttla
I really enjoyed the chapters that took place during specific points in Delhi's (and India's) rich history. It is very easy to reduce battles to dry statistics of the number of people killed and the reigns of rulers to the monuments they left behind, but these chapters placed a human element to these periods and gave us a glimpse of what life may have been like for those involved. The fact they were all relatively short meant the story never stood still for long and made it all the more enjoyabl ...more
Kenneth Langer
If you love India (as I do) and/or have spent considerable time in Delhi (me) , I recommend Khushwant Singh's novel "Delhi." It's chapters, narrated by various emperors, sycophants, and other oddballs close to the throne, give a very human view of major events like the reign of Aurangabad and the the "mutiny" of 1857. If you like blood and gore, there's enough to compete with Game of Thrones. Because Singh gallops through the ages, the book can feel choppy. Moreover, the main narrator -- which s ...more
One of the most powerful books ever written by an Indian author.
I would rather say its not a book.. its a journey through time which portrays the grand city of Delhi in various states... its a journey in which the reader meets some unforgettable characters like Aurangzeb, Meer Taki Meer, Nihal Singh, Bahadur Shah Zafar and of course.. Bhagmati.
Khushwant Singh's bold and frank comments throughout the book are the highlighting factor which may not please many of the readers but he has a way of te
It gives a picture of 500 years of Delhi's history painted in the perspective of those who belong to different shades ranging from being oppressor to the oppressed. There are two narratives at the beginning: one starts 500 odd years ago, the historical one, and the other half a millennia ago. The former one is a harsh one replete with numerous blood-sheds which happened in the city. The second one compensates for the former by being contemporary, Indian-style-humorous and to some degree ,erotic. ...more
This Book was my first authored by Khushwant Singh. And Now I have decided not to read his books any more books.
Sunil Nair
"News of the present that is censured and archived to build perceptions of the future generations about the past, is documented history. More often than not, these are stories and events which are highlighted by those in power with vested interests and documented by their cronies to build a perception that may not include that of the common man."

"Delhi - a novel" is history through tales of the common man.

This was my first Kushwant Singh book. Having always been an ardent fan of the centenarian
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 88 89 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Delhi: History in the Garb of Erotica. 2 28 Sep 04, 2014 12:08AM  
  • The Alchemy of Desire
  • City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
  • The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India
  • Hello, Bastar - The Untold Story of India's Maoist Movement
  • The Indians: Portrait Of A People
  • Non Stop India
  • Kingdom's End: Selected Stories
  • Mistress
  • India: A Portrait
  • Love and Longing in Bombay
  • Great Indian Middle Class
  • Christopher Unborn
  • Yuganta: The End of an Epoch
  • Curfewed Night
  • No God In Sight
  • Annihilation Of Caste
  • India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking
  • A Poet to His Beloved: The Early Love Poems of W.B. Yeats
Khushwant Singh, (Punjabi: ਖੁਸਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ, Hindi: खुशवंत सिंह) born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali, British India, now a part of Punjab, Pakistan, is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country.

An important post-colonial novelist writing in English, Singh
More about Khushwant Singh...
Train to Pakistan The Company of Women Truth, Love and a Little Malice Absolute Khushwant Sunset Club

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“When the world is itself draped in the mantle of night, the mirror of the mind is like the sky in which thoughts twinkle like stars.” 56 likes
“That's Delhi. When life gets too much for you all you need to do is to spend an hour at Nigambodh Ghat,watch the dead being put to flames and hear their kin wail for them. Then come home and down a couple of pegs of whisky. In Delhi, death and drink make life worth living,” 18 likes
More quotes…