Celebrating World Heritage Day: Ten Songs

Today, April 18th, is World Heritage Day. A day to thank God, our ancestors, civilisation—for the richness that surrounds us. Whether it’s in the form of a unique ecosystem, or a beautiful old building. Or a language, a cuisine, a medicinal system. It’s all heritage, and it’s all precious. All remarkably, frighteningly fragile.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has, as one of its wings, the World Heritage Centre. This is responsible for selecting (based on very strict criteria), preserving and promoting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: natural and cultural heritage believed to be of ‘outstanding value to humanity’. India has a total of 28 World Heritage Sites, with a further 32 nominated and therefore on the ‘Tentative List’.

So: to celebrate. Ten songs, from Hindi films of the 50s and 60s (the only exception being Johny Mera Naam, 1970), which are picturised, either in part or totally, against a backdrop of a UNESCO World Heritage Site—or at least a tentative one. These are all from films I’ve seen. Enjoy!

1. Taj Mahal

Ek Shahenshah ne banwaake haseen Taj Mahal (Leader, 1964): India’s best-known World Heritage Site, and definitely the most visible touristy symbol of India, the Taj Mahal is India for the millions who visit it every year.

And anyway, where would the Hindi film industry be without the Taj? That, and the love story of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan and his Empress Mumtaz Mahal—mostly over-romanticised—does seem to hold a fascination for film-makers.

Ek Shahenshah ne banwaake haseen Taj Mahal is perhaps the best example of a song literally praising the Taj Mahal and all that it has come to stand for: eternal love. I wish they’d dwelt a little more on the details of the carving and the inlay work, but never mind.

2. Qutb Minar

Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar (Tere Ghar ke Saamne, 1962): I’m taking a bit of a liberty with this song, because it does not really show the actual monument, but a set. The scenes preceding the song do show the picnic from which our two lovebirds have escaped, though; and that includes shots of the Qutb Minar.

Since the interior of the Qutb Minar itself isn’t very conducive (space-wise and light-wise), to shooting, a set was used. I’d guess it’s fairly authentic—the walls don’t look cardboard, and the arch in which they sit looks just about right, as does the spiral staircase. I wouldn’t know, since visitors have not been allowed inside the Qutb Minar for many, many years.

The Qutb Minar (begun in 1199 AD) is, along with its surrounding complex, one of Delhi’s three World Heritage Sites. It’s certainly my favourite.

3. Darjeeling Hill Railway

Mere Sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu (Aradhana, 1969): The Darjeeling Hill Railway (DHR) is actually part of one single listing in India’s list of World Heritage Sites: the Mountain Railways of India. The DHR is the oldest of these Indian Mountain Railways, the system being operational since 1881. The train travels from new Jalpaiguri up to Darjeeling.

I’ve not been on the train myself, but my sister has—for part of the way. She assures me that while it’s an interesting, steeped-in-heritage ride (with lovely scenic views), the journey itself is so slow that it soon begins to pall. The slow speed of the train is because it has to chug up from an elevation of 113 mt above sea level (New Jalpaiguri) to 2200 mt ASL at Darjeeling, and that too (on the tourist train stretches, and the Kurseong-Darjeeling stretch) by steam engine.

That snail’s pace, thankfully, makes the DHR a popular setting for some great train songs: the title song from Jhumroo, Main chali main chali (Professor)—and this one. A classic serenade shot all the way on the DHR, the ‘singer’ in a jeep on the road along the train track, while the object of his affections sits aboard the train.

4. Kalka-Shimla Railway

Mujhe apna yaar bana lo (Boyfriend, 1961): Also a part of Mountain Railways of India listing, the Kalka-Shimla dates back to the late 19th century. In 1891, with the opening of train travel between Delhi and Kalka, it became possible for trains to go all the way to the foothills—so why not beyond? Just 96.54 km ahead of Kalka lies Shimla, a popular summer retreat as well as the summer capital of the British after 1911 (when the capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi). So the Kalka-Shimla Railway came into existence.

Here we have Shammi Kapoor literally on the Kalka-Shimla Railway. The second half of the song is shot on nondescript snowy ground, but for the first couple of minutes, he spends his time climbing aboard the train, up on to its roof, where he proceeds to dance about as the train wends its way uphill. Scenic, somewhat hair-raising (all that running about on the roof of the train), yet fun. And you get to see a World Heritage property in action.

5. Ellora Cave Temples

Aaiye padhaariye (Geet Gaaya Pattharo Ne, 1964): Maharashtra’s ancient rock-cut cave temples and monasteries of Elllora were designated a World Heritage Site in 1983 (which is why, in Aaiye padhaariye, the actors are allowed to dance and leap about just where they please—the temples may have been protected but not yet to the extent demanded by a World Heritage status). The caves include Buddhist, Jain and Hindu (mostly Shaivite) temples, and date back to between 600 AD to 1000 AD.

Aaiye padhaariye is one of the few songs that actually focuses on the site rather than anything else. Jeetendra plays an ad hoc tourist guide who mucks up a tour—as he enters Cave 16, ‘Kailasanath’, he has to look around for a label to identify a statue (which turns out to be Ganga). Later, he’s able to correctly (and tunefully!) tell the group about Shiva and Parvati’s wedding and show them the iconic sculpture of Ravana hoisting Mt Kailash, with Shiva and Parvati atop. But then he fumbles again, and a group member (Rajshree) decides enough is enough—and takes over the conducting of the tour.

A good virtual tour of at least part of Ellora’s best-known Hindu temple.  Kailasanath, by the way, is carved entirely out of a single rock. Wow.

6. Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments

Tumne kisi ki jaan ko jaate hue dekha hai (Rajkumar, 1964): The rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram (Mammallapuram) in Tamilnadu were among the first Indian monuments to be accorded World Heritage Site status, in 1984. The temples include friezes (one of the most famous being what is known as ‘The Penance of Arjun’), rathas (chariot-shaped temples) and viharas, or sanctuaries. The group of structures was built between the 7th and 8th centuries by the Pallava kings. I visited years ago, but remember being awed by the carving on display—it’s fantastic.

So is this song. Mohammad Rafi at his best. Sadhana, looking gorgeous (despite that very fussy costume). And Shammi Kapoor (despite that horrid velvet shirt).

Only the first part of the song is set against the temples of Mahabalipuram—the rest takes place partly with them swinging Tarzan-like from some vines in a forest, and from there in a patently fake garden. But the first two and a half minutes provide a good glimpse of Mahabalipuram’s monuments, in particular the Pancha Rathas section.

7. Fatehpur Sikri Group of Monuments

Hum hain raahi pyaar ke (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957): The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri as his new capital in the late 16th century, but it was inhabited only for about a decade—due to chronic water shortages. With its unbelievably intricate carvings (Birbal’s Palace and the Palace of the Turkish Sultana are among the most mind-blowing examples of Indian stonework), Fatehpur Sikri deserves every single bit of its standing as a World Heritage Site.

On to the song, now. Yes, calling Hum hain raahi pyaar ke a ‘Fatehpur Sikri song’ is stretching things a bit, but it’s a great song, and a man driving from Delhi to Bombay – how could he not go out of his way and through Akbar’s old capital? A fitting tribute to Fatehpur Sikri, even though all you do see of it in the song is Dev Anand’s lorry driving past the impressive Buland Darwaza.

8. Chittaur Fort (On the tentative list)

Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai (Guide, 1965): My husband and I visited Chittaurgarh (Chittaur Fort) last year, and our guide told us that the fort—India’s largest, with a circumference of 13 km—is a World Heritage Site. It turns out it isn’t, not yet. I should’ve guessed our guide was a bit of a fibber. He’d already told us that he’d been Dev Anand’s and Waheeda Rehman’s tour guide when they were filming Guide here—and he’d mentioned he’d been a guide here since 1972. Some discrepancy, there?

Anyway, Chittaurgarh is a fascinating fort, teeming with legends of everybody from Maharana Pratap to Rani Padmini, Panna Dhai and Meerabai (where would Hindi cinema be without Chittaur?!) The biggest attractions are the massive ramparts—in places 1,500 years old— along with the Meera Temple, the Kumbha Palace, Padmini’s lake palace (Jal Mahal) and the victory tower known as Vijay Stambh.

Vijay Stambh is where the Chittaurgarh tour of Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai first starts, at about 1:45 in the video—you see Waheeda Rehman dancing against its backdrop. She also goes on to dance near Meera Bai’s Palace and Panna Dhai’s Palace; then on the ramparts, and at Jal Mahal. (If you haven’t been to Chittaurgarh, read paragraph 12 of my account of it to understand the significance of the mirror and the lake palace shown in the song. It’s an interesting anecdote).

9. Excavated Remains at Nalanda (On the tentative list)

O mere raja, khafa na hona (Johny Mera Naam, 1970): Dev Anand certainly seems to have figured in a lot of songs that were picturised against a historic monument. Here’s another, filmed among the excavated remains of the ancient university of Nalanda in present-day Bihar. Nalanda, established between the 5th and 6th century AD, was a major centre of Buddhist learning till the late 12th century, when Bakhtiyar Khalji and his troops destroyed it. According to legend, the library of Nalanda was so huge that it smouldered for six months after being torched by Khalji’s soldiers.

The excavations of Nalanda cover about 14 hectares and include temples (both Buddhist as well as a Hindu temple), dormitories for students and teachers, meditation halls, etc. You can see a good bit of the university in this song—including a beautifully carved building (a temple?) at just over a minute into the song. All of it is really pretty impressive.

Nalanda isn’t yet confirmed as a World Heritage Site; maybe the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (or whichever committee approves nominations) should be shown O mere raja. A virtual tour—and a glamorous lady (and oddly conspicuous cops) to round it off.

10. Lodhi Gardens, Delhi (On the tentative list)

Aapko pyaar chhupaane ki buri aadat hai (Neela Akash, 1965): Lastly, a component of a site that’s on the tentative list. The city of Delhi has been nominated for a World Heritage City status, and there’s hope that if the nomination is cleared, India’s capital—which has about 2,000 listed historical monuments—will be the better for it. We can hope for better restoration and protection of historical monuments, improved facilities for visitors, and more.

So, here’s a song picturised on one of my favourite areas in Delhi: the Lodhi Gardens, which combine historical monuments with lovely gardens (some rare trees to be seen here; also a good cross-section of Delhi’s bird life). The Lodhi Gardens are dotted with beautiful old tombs—mostly from the 15th and early 16th century—plus a picturesque Akbar-period bridge and a late Mughal mosque, among other monuments.

About half of the song (the beginning and the end) is shot between the tombs known as the Bada Gumbad and the Sheesh Gumbad. In between, Dharmendra and Mala Sinha traipse about the park amongst the flowers and shrubbery, but towards the end, they come back to the Sheesh Gumbad.

Here’s to our heritage (no matter where we are in the world). Let’s keep it intact and cherish it—and no matter what Hindi cinema might indicate, scratching reminders of your love onto an old, old wall is not at all romantic.

(Coincidentally, three days from now—on April 21, 2012—Indian cinema begins its 100th year of existence. The screening of the first all-Indian production, Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, was on April 13, 1913. Over the next one year, there’ll be celebrations—and, more importantly, a National Heritage Mission to digitise and restore as many prints as are possible of Indian films. Read more, here).


172 thoughts on “Celebrating World Heritage Day: Ten Songs

  1. “he’d mentioned he’d been a guide here since 1972. Some discrepancy, there?”

    Surely Dev wouldn’t have needed a guide – he himself was a guide too, right? ;) I bet all guides who take people there wanted to be Dev’s and Waheeda’s guides when they came there!

    And I definitely knew that Dil Ka Bhanwar would figure. (I’ve gone on Wikipedia looking up the Qutub Minar because of this song!) Didn’t know that those caves were going to be a World Heritage site. Weird thing was, I was just intending to check that song out today.

    And hurray for Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke! :D Oh, and the Kalka-Shimla railway, Shammi definitely looked like he had fun!


  2. A wonderful and fitting idea on a glorious occasion. I just realised, I haven’t been even to one of this site! Shame on me!
    Lovely songs!
    Am in a bit of hurry. i will have more time on Friday to go through.


  3. Lovely idea DO :-)
    The Nilgiris railways were used in Dil Se, (Chaiyyan Chaiyyan). I saw the song in youtube, and wonder if more of the heritage area could have been covered, as against the closeups of SRK and MAK.

    Purely from the point of view of scenes. (non-song), do you remember PWDLY where Asha takes Joy through a tour of Delhi? I sure remember Qutub Minar, Lal Qila, Was Anchal me Saja Lena shot somewhere in a heritage site?
    I remember Lal Patthar also making references to Lal Qila. How about the shooting in Jai Chittod?


    • Thank you, Karthik!

      And you’re right, Chhaiya chhaiya is picturised on the Nilgiris Hill Railway:

      …but yes, you can’t see that much of the train itself, or the route it follows (except in some places) The emphasis on the dancers themselves overshadows the setting, pretty much.

      You’re right about the Dilli darshan in Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon – she takes him to the Red Fort, past Vijay Chowk, and to the Qutb Minar. As far as Aanchal mein sajaa lena kaliyaan is concerned: no, it’s not a heritage site. Not even something historical; it’s definitely a rather crappily-constructed set. ;-)

      It’s the same with O pawan veg se udne waale ghode, as far as I can see:

      The space where Nirupa Roy is singing is definitely a set, and where the warriors gallop off to fight – could be anywhere. You don’t really see anything that identifies it as even Mewar, let along Chittaur.


    • Yup, I think so.

      Incidentally, one Indian railway station is actually on the World Heritage Site list – Bombay’s Victoria Terminus, now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus. You can see a glimpse of it in Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan, though none of the action in the song happens at the station itself:


    • Loads. Loads and loads. (As you can see, I’ve hinted at them in the first screen cap of my post). But I wanted to reserve those songs for another post, coming up next month. :-)


  4. Ah, what a lovely post, Madhu. And a fitting one for the occasion.

    As usual, I learn something new when I come to your site – I did not even know it was World Heritage Day. Have just gone the UNESCO list you linked to – very interesting! Now I need to visit ALL those places. :-)

    Totally agree with you that we need to preserve our heritage – and scratching reminders of your love onto an old wall is NOT romantic!

    Of the 10 you’ve listed here, I’ve been to 7 (although I was very young when I went to the Ellora Caves, so I shouldn’t probably be counting that).

    The 3 I haven’t been to / experienced are Nalanda and the two train journeys (Darjeeling and the Kalka one).

    Reading the Chittaurgarh bit brought back memories because it is the most recent one I’ve been to, of this list. I remember very well the Jal Mahal, the Meera Temple, the Vijay Stambh (I did climb to the top – it wasn’t a busy day).

    And I too had a guide – but not in Chittaurgarh but in Udaipur – who told me some story about being in a movie (I think even that was Guide). Was Guide even shot in Udaipur? I know Mera Saaya was.
    Or maybe it was some other movie he was talking about.

    I remember being quite impressed by Mahabalipuram too. That is about 1200-1300 years old. I heard that the tsunami caused a lot of damage along the Mahabalipuram coast, any idea whether it damaged the heritage site in any way?

    Btw, I noticed the Golconda Fort also in the tentative list. I visited it for the first time only last year. Surely there’s some song with that as backdrop too?

    Maybe you should just make a Part 2 of this post and include another 10 heritage sites. Out of a total of 60 (28+32), it would be sad if 50 don’t get a mention (assuming we can find songs for them of course).

    Btw, I noticed that Humayun’s Tomb is also in that list. Am not sure but is this Humayun’s Tomb in this song? If not, what monument is it? I’m really bad at this so excuse my ignorance.


    • Thank you, Raja. I’m glad you enjoyed that (and learnt something!) I hadn’t known about the existence of World Heritage Day till four years back either. Then I took on a writing assignment for INTACH, and had to visit some sites in Delhi – and ended up going to Humayun’s Tomb, where I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ticket counter was shut and all entry was free – because it was April 18, World Heritage Day.

      7 is a very good score! I haven’t been to Nalanda, Ellora, or on the two train rides either. And, coincidentally, Chittaurgarh was the most recent on my list too – last monsoon. I don’t remember Guide well enough to recall if any of it was filmed in Udaipur, but while we were visiting the Vintage Car Collection at Udaipur, the guide there pointed out the green car that Anwar Hussain and Dev Anand use in the film.

      I’m not sure if Mahabalipuram suffered any damage because of the tsunami. I passed by (unfortunately, in too much of a hurry to stop and do any sightseeing) in January 2010, but didn’t hear of any damage. I hope not.

      A Part #2 of this post? Good Lord! Raja, I tossed about at night trying to remember songs to fit this one post, doing a second part will be impossible. But let me try. Perhaps for next year? :-)


  5. HOW do you keep coming up with these wonderful ideas for your posts? Never in a gazillion years would World Heritage Day have got me thinking about films set in World Heritage Sites. It’s a rare gift, and this is another excellent addition to your catalogue. The fact that it includes three of my personal favourites, Kashmir ki kali hoon main, mere sapnon ki rani and dil ka bhanwar certainly didn’t hurt, either. Thanks, again, for another wonderful post, again!


    • Thanks, Stuart! Glad you enjoyed that. :-) I suppose it’s partly to do with some fascination with history – I automatically end up noticing historical sights in old movies, and seeing how they’ve changed over the decades gone by. Of the sites I’ve listed in this post, all those that I’ve visited seem to be pretty much as they were back when the songs featuring them were picturised.


  6. A really great idea, and wonderful songs. My favorite obviously has to be the “Jeetendra” song from GGPN;).
    Seriously speaking, the only place I have visited from this list is Mahabalipuram; so I have a lot of travelling to do in India.
    Can I add heritage sites from around the world ?
    Here are two :-
    1) Paris, Banks of Seine

    2) Venice, Canals


    • Samir, I was wondering if anyone would come up with any songs picturised on World Heritage Sites around the world. I’d originally thought of making this post a mix of Indian and international World Heritage Sites, but eventually decided to stick to Indian only.

      I love Raat ke humsafar thakke ghar ko chale, and the other song’s a nice one too. Here’s a better-known song on the canals of Venice: Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahaani:

      And, a song partly picturised at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (the Genbaku Dome); the Lata version of O mere shahekhubaan, from Love in Tokyo:


    • Hmm. I have just realised that of the existing list of World Heritage Sites (excluding tentative sites), I’ve been to more international ones than Indian – 18 to 13. Needs to be amended. :-)


    • That doesn’t matter – one can see the inside of the building (which is the same situation as in Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar) and it is, after all, a film set in India. So, it’ll do. :-)


  7. Looking up the list of World Heritage sites, I see that 26,000 square kilometres of the South Island is a WH site, and the area it covers includes, (I think) the location of a few song picturisations from recent years. If I cared enough about films like Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, I’d see if they were indeed shot inside Te Wahipounamu. :)


  8. This is an excellent idea for a post. I have seen Aaiye Padhariye so often, but never realised it was Ellora! Qutub Minar is my favorite monument too. I love stumbling about on those carved stones strewn about. There is a large hall to the left of the minar and I like sit in a niche and imagine myself a princess living in a boudoir like that one.

    I have been on the Kalka-Shimla train a couple of times, and it is my favorite way to visit Shimla.

    Dev Anand did go out of his way to shoot his movies in some exotic locations, eg. Prem Shastra, Ishq Ishq Ishq. Maybe it was fashionable to use a historical monument as a backdrop in those days.


    • Thank you, Ava!

      Yes, Qutb Minar and its complex are lovely, aren’t they? A Brazilian writer whom I know was in town for the first time a couple of years ago, and I took him to see Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and a couple of other places – and he fell completely head over heels in love with the Qutb Minar.

      I haven’t seen Prem Shastra or Ishq Ishq Ishq. But I think the idea of using a historical monument as a backdrop hasn’t completely vanished. For instance, Kasto mazaa from Parineeta is on the DHR:

      And Do dil mil rahe hain from Pardes really showed Fatehpur Sikri in all its glory:


  9. As for the guide saying he hosted Dev and Waheeda, I think all the guides in such places refer to movies to allow the Indian tourists make an instant connection. When I visited Amer fort recently, the guide mentioned that some parts of Jodha Akbar were shot there.


    • You’re right. The Indian love for cinema is probably what helps make an instant connect. My sister was taking a bunch of school children on a heritage walk through Mehrauli in Delhi, and the first place they stopped was the Tomb of Adham Khan. My sister later told me how she introduced it: she asked them if they’d seen Jodhaa Akbar, and then reminded them of the scene where Adham Khan comes rushing into the imperial harem with a drawn sword – and Akbar fends him off, finally ordering him to be executed by being repeatedly flung off the ramparts.

      Instant rise in interest! :-)


  10. Hey, Dustedoff, you need to take me to the Qutub Minar one day too! :D

    Then we can sing Dil Ka Bhanwar when we go down for fun. Just don’t shove me like how Nutan did. :P


    • Absolutely! Any time you’re in Delhi.

      (By the way, as I mentioned in my description of it (poor kid! You’re going to have your leg pulled about this for a looooong time!!)… the Qutb Minar cannot be entered any more. It’s been closed for visitors for many, many years now.)


        • Why not? >:

          Hehehehe!! *rubbing hands with glee at the prospect of getting to rub it in again* Read the description. The Qutb Minar is probably not conducive to shooting, “space-wise and light-wise”. It’s a medieval tower, fairly narrow (certainly not wide enough for crew, lighting, etc), and (as you can see in this photo):

          … it isn’t studded with windows. There are balconies after every storey, but that’s it.

          Yes, I live in Delhi – have lived here for the past 26 years. Come on over, and I’ll show you around. :-)


          • Oh, dear. In your next post I’m going to have to stare hard at every word! >:P

            But Goldie was good at shooting in small spaces. (Like Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofan) Guess it was too narrow? :D Must’ve been really hard for them to put a set like that together! Really hard!

            And that’s cool! So cool! I’ve always wanted to go to Delhi because of the Qutub Minar! That’s awesome! :DDD


            • In your next post I’m going to have to stare hard at every word! >:P


              By the way, a train carriage is nowhere as narrow as the inside of the Qutb Minar must be. You have to see the tower to guess how narrow the inside must be, because you have to take into account the thickness of the outer walls, the inner core (around which the staircase winds), etc.

              And Apni toh har aah ek toofan hai seems almost certainly – like most train songs, at least back then – to have been shot on a set. It’s just too steady for an actual Indian Railways train in the 50s and 60s (well, even now).


              • Darn it. Whenever I think of the inside of the Qutub Minar, “Dil Ka Bhanwar” starts playing in my head! Oh well…

                And that seriously didn’t occur to me. On a set? The Indian Railways really are shaky, huh? It looks pretty real to me.

                Why was the Qutub Minar closed? Too shaky? Leaning on its side?


                • Very enjoyable discussion. A few points. The Qutab set was made in Mehboob Studio in Bandra, Bombay. It was difficult to shoot inside the actual minor (tower) because it was too cramped. But the producers went there, took photographs and replicated it. The actual minar was closed beyond the second level because (so the legend goes) people kept on jumping off it. Which is why there is a wire mesh in the balconies, (visible in the song).
                  Apni to har aah was shot on a set, it is plain to see. What is interesting is the tune–it is not aligned with the beat of the train, which is often the case in “train” songs in Hindi films. The only concession is the long train whistle


                  • Oh cool! So they really were in Bombay! Dev was the producer, so he must’ve been… woah. Building a whole set for a song. Expensive? :P

                    Why do people jump off it?! They’re idiots! Because of them we can’t go up and sing “Dil Ka Bhanwar”. Okay, maybe not that, but you get the point.

                    It never occured to me that “Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofan Hai” was shot on a set. :D That’s cool.


        • Welcome to my world… yes, writer’s block hits every now and then, but I generally fill it up by turning my attention to something else that needs to be written in the meantime. I usually have a couple of stories (some mostly already ‘written’ in my head) that I need to type out, so even if I hit a block with one story, there’s something else to turn to.

          Give it time, and don’t panic. You’ll get around it.


  11. I echo the others – what a wonderful, original idea for a post! I’ll make a plea here for you to increase your era of coverage to include the 70s, perhaps even the early 80s?!

    In any event, any time monuments come into the picture (pun!), I am reminded of the sublime ‘Naam gum jayega’ in ‘Kinara’ (1977) – RD, Gulzar, Lata all totally killing it. Hema’s lovely as usual despite Jeetu, handicapped poor thing, by the dreadful mid 70s style.

    A couple of others that spring to mind, I’ll keep for your Kashmir Mughal Gardens post. Thanks again – really loved going through the wonderful songs and ‘scene scenery’ :-)


    • Thank you, Suhan – both for the appreciation, and for the song. I love this one (I like a lot of music from the 70s, actually) – such a beautiful song. This is the first time I’ve seen the video: nice! I’ve never managed to make it to Mandu, though it’s on my bucket list. Someday…

      I’m not going to extend this blog to the 70s (or at least not beyond films that have a very 60s ‘feel’ to them, like Pakeezah or Sharmilee) or the 80s, but I am very happy to have readers post their favourite songs from that period here! :-)


  12. Forgot to mention that it’s Mandu they’re meandering through in ‘Kinara’. I think its included in the ‘tentative’ list of 32.


  13. So now I have got some time, I can write a bit more than clutching heart and posting songs.

    I was also toying with a similar idea of listing songs with landmark sites of India, but Ihad not thought of Heritage Sites.
    The first hurdle I encountered was that I didn’t know many of the buidlings. Do you know by any chance know which site builds the background for tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai from Aandhi?

    Are these the Golconda mausoleums in the background in yeh parbaton ke daaiere

    Ek Shahenshah ne banake haseen Tajmahal
    It is nice but i just feel very bored when I listen to it. And to top it Dilip Kumar looks like as if he had an allergy reaction to the groundnuts he ate alast evening.

    Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar
    The best song of the list! My favourite! Such a romantic one!

    Mere Sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu
    Lovely beat!
    I love trains. I would so love to make this train journey.
    How much time does it take to make the jouney form Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling?

    Mujhe apna yaar bana lo
    The song was new, the location was new. Sometimes I wonder where and how I live!
    Beautiful scenes! I can ounderstand Raja wanting to frolic around the train! So would I!

    Aaiye padhaariye
    Such beautiful caves and such a boring song!

    Tumne Kisi Ki Jaan Ko
    Nice song! But why they destroy the local vegetation and plant Casuarina is beyond me. BTW why does Sadhana look as if she has sprung from a Ramleela company truck.
    Beautiful temples!

    Fatehpur Sikri
    I have heard so much of it and seen so less.
    There was something like a scandal some years wasn’t it, because during the filming of a certain song a film actress was allegedly not appropriately clad at Fatehpur Sikri and the local Sufi Unit protested against it.

    Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai
    The local guides! It is so hard to believe them. If they would at least come up with good stories, it would be worth to pay them for it.
    Your account of the travel to Chittor is very informative.

    O mere raja
    “According to legend, the library of Nalanda was so huge that it smouldered for six months after being torched by Khalji’s soldiers.”
    This hurts!! Burning books! How terrible!
    Do you think the lift is at the same location?

    aapko pyar chupane ki buri aadat hai
    Are the Lodhi Gardens far from Delhi?
    They are beautiful!!

    “on April 21, 2012—Indian cinema begins its 100th year of existence.”
    A special post lined up?
    Do say yes!


    • Harvey, I’ve said it often enough before, but I’ll say it again: your long and detailed comments are such a pleasure to read! :-) Thank you.

      Do please do a post on songs against backdrops of famous historical places in India – there are so many of them (some against pretty unknown places) that you’ll have plenty to choose from.

      Tum aa gaye ho is picturised at Pari Mahal, an observatory built by Dara Shukoh above the Chashmashahi Bagh. I don’t think Pari Mahal itself is on the tentative list, but Chashmashahi is – so (since, I think, you see glimpses of the gardens below the Pari Mahal) that song counts!

      P.S. Heard this one? “Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai… chalo, teenon picture chalein” :-D

      Your link to Yeh parbaton ke daayre was wrong. Here’s the correct one:

      I love that song – so beautiful. It’s been one of my favourites for a long time, but this was the first time I’d seen it. Thanks! I’ve never been to Golconda, but looking at photos of it, the sections later in the song certainly seem to be picturised against it.


      • Your posts are so well-written, they need a good and detailed comment. helps me digest the post better too! Not that I have trouble in understanding them! Just that it prevents me from just skimming through!

        “Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai… chalo, teenon picture chalein”
        :-D Three is a company, what?

        “Do please do a post on songs against backdrops of famous historical places in India”
        I can’t recognise 95% of them. You will have to do that part for me. ;-)

        The Golconda mausoleums are beautiful. i was there some 15 years back and the moment we reached there, my camera batteries went off and I didn’t have repalcements! Or was it the film roll?

        Do visit them!


        • Oh, I will be glad to help identify historical places – as far as I can!

          I’ve been wanting to visit Golconda (and Hyderabad itself) for a long time. My husband Tarun works for a company which has its head office in Hyderabad, so he goes every few months to the place for a couple of days. He keeps promising me that sometime he’ll take me along and extend his stay there, so that we can do some sightseeing, but it hasn’t happened so far. :-(


    • Okay, now that I’ve answered your questions, time to get around to your comments…

      I agree about both Aaiye padhaariye and Ek shahenshah ne banaake… the backdrops are amazing, but the songs themselves are pretty lacklustre.

      Sadhana’s costumes all through Rajkumar were pretty garish – except in that one scene where she comes to confront Prithviraj Kapoor in court, and she’s dressed all in black. Poor Sadhana! She was usually so stylish and well-dressed (I thought she was simply gorgeous in films like Woh Kaun Thi and Waqt).

      Who knows why they planted casuarina trees at Mahabalipuram? Aren’t they used as windbreaks, though? Maybe there actually were casuarinas around the complex at the time. Don’t know. I don’t even remember if there were any in the vicinity when I visited – which was ages back.

      Didn’t know about the Fatehpur Sikri-inappropriately dressed actress episode; must’ve been in the dargah area. (By the way, that reminds me of another religious shrine that is on the tentative list; Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib). Tujh mein rab dikhta hai, from Rab ne bana di jodi:

      No idea about the lift they show at Nalanda – the terrain looks similar, though.

      The Lodhi Gardens are bang in the middle of Delhi, only about 25 minutes’ drive from our house. It’s a very lovely place. Have a look on my FB profile – I’d uploaded an album of photos. (You even identified some flora for me!) :-)


      • Casuarinas are windbreakers, but they are not good for the local vegetation, particularly the sand vegetation.

        Of course I remember your beautiful photos from the Lodhi gardens. If it were not for you, I wouldn’t even know that they existed! It just reminds me how much of India, I haven’t seen yet and it makes me sad. But when I’m in India, all my time goes in visiting family, which is also nice, but…


        • but they are not good for the local vegetation

          Harvey, when has that ever bothered Indian municipal corporations or whoever is in charge? The Brits, for example, introduced vilayati keekar to populate the arid – and till then bare – Delhi Ridge, because the Ridge had proved to be a weak spot for the British during 1857. The result? Vilayati keekar has proliferated to the extent of covering the Ridge and nearly choking off whatever indigenous vegetation the Ridge could boast of. And there’s the case of water hyacinth…

          I agree with what you say about how much there is of India still to see! Every year, Tarun and I make it a point to visit at least one place we haven’t been to yet, and we’re still light years away.


            • Harvey, if it makes you feel better, NZ’s supposedly “clean and green” but from a pre-human (circa 12th Century) high of 95% forest cover outside alpine areas, we’re down to 24%, and that’s with a current population less than Bangalore’s. People are greedy, thoughtless destroyers everywhere and every when.


              • No Stuart! It doesn’t make me feel much better, if anything just more sadder. But there are vested interests in this. I just saw a docu on land grabbing in Ethiopia. A little bit different story but with the same mechanisms. The finance market is going to destroy the earth.


      • Harmandir Sahib is only the tentative list?Weird! Even on the small screen it’s obviously one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world, and its cultural significance, especially given the Sikh Diaspora, can hardly be contested. Its historical significance, over the last few centuries, good and bad, should also make it a shoo-in. Nice choice of song to illustrate it to, btw. Even this non-SRK fan likes that movie :)


        • The factors governing the final selection of a World Heritage Site are many – from what (very little) I know, there’s also an aspect of how close the current building is to the original, or at least to how it’s changed. For example, the Red Fort isn’t what it was in Mughal days – the British demolished about 80% of the buildings and erected barracks after 1857 – but the barracks are a historical part of the entire complex.

          I haven’t been to Harmandir Sahib, but from the photos and videos I’ve seen of it, it looks ‘renovated’ (rather than ‘restored’ or ‘conserved’), so that may be a factor too. I believe historical sites vying for World Heritage Site status can only be cleaned/conserved in ways that are consistent with how they were originally built and decorated.

          But I do hope it gets the nod – it looks like a stunning building.

          And I liked Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi too. :-)


  14. May I introduce another ‘new’ song which shows some historical monuments from Delhi? :-) Agar main kahoon from Lakshya begins against a backdrop of the madarsa and tomb of Feroz Shah Tughlaq at Hauz Khas. Then, at about 1:20, it shifts to Tughlaqabad Fort. At 2:56, you can see Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’s domed tomb in the background


    • I love the songs of this film. This song is so naughty and yet in an innocent way. I thought it had been shot against the backdrop of Purana Qila. Nice to now all this. What about the place the crowd keeps going to, where Madhavan proposes to Soha in Rang De Basanti? Is that any place of historical significance? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtVEUsIXSJ4


      • Yes, Lakshya had nice songs – my favourite is Kandhon se kandhe milte hain. It was a nice film too.

        The Rang de Basanti scene(s) are shot in a traditional Mughal sarai – this particular one was called the Doraha Sarai, it’s near Ludhiana. While Delhi has a lot of neighbourhoods named after sarais, there seems to be only one major sarai still standing here – the Baadli ki Sarai. Punjab, I believe, has some well-preserved ones. I’ve seen one on the way to Patiala, which was very interesting.


  15. I’m late for the party, but as ususal you have come up with a fantastic and unique idea once again :-)
    Out of the list I haven’t been to Mahabalipuram, Nalanda excavations and – I ca’t believe it – Lodhi Gardens (or I may have but don’t remember).
    So that’s 7/8 out of 10.

    -Dil ka bhanwar is the best, no question.
    -The Geet Gaya Pathron ne song is quite a brochure for Ellora.
    -Mere sapnon ki rani has Rajesh Khanna singing, but is it for Sharmila, because he hasn’t met her yet, and is still wondering when his sapno ki rani will come.

    Incidentally on the 18th I was in one of the most beautiful World Heritage cities, Bath, in England. Have been there half a dozen times (on my way elsewhere) and never tire of it.


    • I don’t want to be a bore and link jo vada kiya vo nibhana padega so here’s a song from Meera, which I’m sure is Varanasi, though you never know. They might have shot these varanasi scenes elsewhere.

      Varanasi isn’t a heritage city, but it’s full of historically important temples, and some must be or should be considered for selection as heritage sites.


      • Oh, you can certainly link to Jo vaada kiya woh nibhaana padega (I’d thought of including that in the list, but you actually don’t see the two of them realy against the building – just their ‘ghosts’ or whatever).

        I’d seen Meera a long, long time ago. Didn’t remember this song, but yes, it shows a good view of some nice historical buildings. That’s Varanasi, is it? I’ve never been there.


    • Pacifist, 7/8 out of 10 is a superb score!

      Somehow, I do think that Rajesh Khanna is singing the song for Sharmila, because he’s obviously seen her and is flirting with her through the song. So even if he’s not ‘formally’ met her, I think of it as a song for her. :-)

      BTW, did you know, there’s a connection between Delhi and Bath? Connaught Place was modelled on the Royal Crescent in Bath.


      • Oh yes, the Royal Crescent is a very majestic looking crescent. Bath has several lesser ones.

        There is one complete circus though, made up of three crescents, called The Circus.

        Here’s a nice aerial picture of it where you can see the Royal crescent too.

        The difference between Connaught Circus and The Circus being that the inside is the front of The Circus, while it’s the opposite in Connaight Circus.


        • Lovely photo, pacifist! Now I want to visit Bath – and Ely and Salisbury and Exeter and a lot more English towns. I’ve only been to London, Cambridge and Windsor, and would love to go back for more!

          Connaught Place was only modelled on the Royal Crescent, I don’t think it was ever intended to be a precise copy. In fact, the original plans had envisaged overhead walkways connecting all three concentric circles of CP – which, of course, didn’t happen, thank heavens. :-)


          • Bath is definitely a must on a sunny day. In rain it isn’t that beautiful, because the stains of old stone showing up.

            The round structure on which CP is modelled is called just The Circus. The *Royal Crescent* is the one which is further up in the picture and is a smoothly flowing curved structure.
            Here’s a picture of the Royal Crescent alone.


            • Hmm, okay… I get the idea. Odd, because all the autoritative documents about Lutyens’s and Baker’s planning of Delhi mention the Royal Crescent specifically, but anyway… I see what you mean.


  16. @sidharth bhatia: Thank you for that bit of trivia! They did do a good job of making the interior look pretty authentic – enough to even fool my sister, who’s a historian, and actually had been thinking till a little while ago (when I disillusioned her) that it had been inside the Qutb.


    • Stupid people! As if they couldn’t find another place to end their lives. Now they’re gone and they’ve spoiled it all for us. They needed to at least see one of Dev’s films before they died. DAMN PEOPLE.

      Now I can’t go up the Qutub Minar. -pouts-


      • I’ve been into (and upstairs) a lot of these medieval monuments, and believe me, it’s not a pleasant experience at all. The steps are invariably very steep and very narrow, it’s close to pitch-dark, and bats often roost there. Someone I know nearly fell down a flight of stairs because a panicky bat flew out and brushed past this person.

        But Qutb Minar, from the outside, is lovely. Look up at it and imagine Dev Anand there. :-)


        • Oh, wow! I never thought there’d be bats in the Qutub Minar. That’s… wow. I wonder if Dev went up there? Hopefully he didn’t fall cause of a bat. :P

          And that sounds like an AWESOME plan! I’ll look up at it and imagine him there… well, just hold me and make sure I don’t faint. :)


  17. Great post!.. I was surprised to know Dil kaa bhanwar was not actually filmed in Qutb Minar..The feel of the set looks so real.

    Another song I remembered was ‘Ghar aaya mera pardesi’ from Awara, which had replica of a statue in Elephanta caves, a World Heritage site..

    Talking of new films, Aishwarya Rai has been promoting world heritage sites a lot..In one single song (Ajooba) from movie Jeans, there were Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China, Pisa tower, Eiffel Tower and Grand canyon USA !! Also, in Robot film (Kilimanjarro), there was Machu Pichu site (Peru)..


          • True! Even more ambitious films fail on that count – for example, Jahanara (where you’d have expected more, considering it was a historical). I remember ‘stone walls’ in Jahanara that were obviously crumpled paper or cardboard, painted grey.


      • Really? That’s so cool! -adds fact to trivia list- Any more tidbits like that? Please? Please? Really, please? :D

        My friend told me today, “Everything you think is related to Dev.” Really, this is what happened:
        Friend: “Let’s get a big group together and do a dance performance!”
        Me: “Dev can’t dance.”
        Friend: “So?”
        Me: “I can’t dance.”

        And on Wikipedia…

        Editor whom I really dislike: “Remove the movie years. They’re not supposed to be there.”
        Me: “They’re there on the Tere Ghar Ke Samne article. So shut up. If it’s not allowed, remove them too.”


    • I had been looking for a song that is filmed at Elephanta (I have a feeling I have at least seen a film that has shots at Elephanta, but right now, I can only remember Bombay Talkie, which isn’t even Hindi). Thank you for the Ghar aaya mera pardesi tip! Had forgotten all about that.

      The title song of Geet gaya pattharon ne includes a shot of one of the paintings from the Ajanta Caves, as far as I know (I must add I’ve never been to Ajanta).

      I’d never seen the Jeans song before (just a couple of seconds in clips on TV), but wooow – it sure is a world tour of World Heritage Sites! Thank you for that. :-)


  18. Talking of heritage sites and films…wish they’d be careful.
    Seems the film personalities have attained the position of goras in India, getting privileges denied to others.
    What a shame.


    • Where do you manage to unearth these songs, pacifist?! :-) Fantastic – my sister is going to love this one. (Okay, perhaps I need to provide some background there. She does voluntary work for the Delhi Chapter of INTACH, and in a recent series of AIR programmes to promote awareness of Delhi’s ‘built heritage’, she was asked by someone phoning in whether there are any film songs picturised on Delhi’s historic monuments. Offhand, she could only think of Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar, but now there are more to add to that). Thanks!


  19. Harvey just discovered this song from Dil Tera Deewana. It has the song tracing the path through the world heritage Hampi which we did too :-)


  20. Hi Madhu,
    Interesting topic and made me put on the trivia thinking cap.

    To start with there is a song “Jaanewale o mere pyar” in Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne (1964). Jeetendra plays a sculptor and visits different monuments in India as part of his “education.” The visit begins with Ajanta caves, Madurai, Belur temple, Dilwara, Sanchi and Taj Mahal. I believe as on date, Ajanta, Sanchi and the Taj Mahal are included in the UNESCO list.

    There was an anecdote I had heard about film shooting restrictions in the Taj Mahal. During the shooting of the Leader (1964) song Ek Shahenshah Ne.., a huge crowd of fans and onlookers had gathered in the grounds leading to property damage, shrubs and bushes trampling etc. This led to the administration banning all film shoots inside the Taj grounds. If you observe the songs shot post Leader, the Taj will be shown from across the river or observed from a boat in the river. (Example: This includes portions of the Geet Gaya… song where the Taj Mahal is viewed from the river side and not the actual grounds). Jeans (1998) was probably the first movie shot in the Taj ground after so many years!

    I noticed Rajasthan’s hill forts and Jaipur are in the current and tentative lists respectively. A couple of songs came in my mind. Jahan Daal Daal Par from Sikandar-e-Azam (1965) ( initial portions shot in Jaipur city palace) and Maang mein bharle rang sakhi ri from Mujhe Jeene Do (1963) – the song begins in Sheesh Mahal in Amber fort (Amer) and moves on to Jaipur city palace.

    Hope this is not a long post, but a final thought on the song “Mere Sapnon ki Rani” (Aradhana -1969) – Sharmila’s portions were shot in a Mumbai studio. Thank you!!!


    • Thank you so much for those anecdotes – very interesting! I do remember hearing about Sharmila’s parts being shot in a studio (they look it, actually). Didn’t know about the Taj trivia, and I can well imagine why the ASI would’ve been miffed enough to ban shoots there for so many years.


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