Rampur, in the eyes of the discerning, is the city Where the eight paradises have come together Rampur is an example of one vast garden, that is Alluring, fresh, verdant, immense and blissful Like clouds sprinkling rain in the month of savan The generous benefactor’s bounty flows like a river — Ghalib: Qitah in praise of Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan
My recent sojourn to Rampur this past December to examine some rare manuscripts of Ghalib’s divan at the Raza Library prompted me to scrutinise Ghalib’s association with the Rampur Nawabs, with a view to assess the importance of Rampur in the larger picture of Ghalib’s life and work. Rampur holds a special place in the area of Ghalib studies because of the path-breaking work of Maulana Imtiaz Ali Khan Arshi (1904-81), who joined the Raza library in 1932, and produced a stream of authoritative works on Ghalib from there.
Maulana Arshi painstakingly collated and published what is still considered the most definitive edition of Ghalib’s divan (1958): he strove to put together an impressive archive of published and unpublished materials. During my visit I examined the artistically decorated 1857 manuscript that Ghalib had got specially calligraphed for Nawab Yousuf Ali Khan. I also saw the 1866 intikhab that Ghalib had put together at Nawab Kalbe Ali Khan’s request. The 1866 intikhab has both Persian and Urdu selections. There are visible corrections in Ghalib’s hand throughout the manuscript and notes on the flyleaf in Maulana Arshi’s meticulous handwriting. Continue reading