Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

'The melting point of granite': Nationalist Tourism and the Reconstruction of Colonial Delhi

Padamsee, Alex (2013) 'The melting point of granite': Nationalist Tourism and the Reconstruction of Colonial Delhi. Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 13 (2). pp. 99-116. ISSN 1474-4600. (KAR id:64903)


This article excavates one aspect of contemporary Hindu nationalism in the mid-nineteenth century mainstream Indian nationalist engagement with the archaeology and urban environment of Delhi. One of the first Indian narratives in English to offer a detailed account of North India in the age of railway travel, Bholanauth Chunder's 'Travels of a Hindoo to Various Parts of Bengal and Upper India' was published in London in 1869. Chunder describes himself as a 'liberal' and a republican. Taking up much of the second volume, his grand tour of Delhi's former Hindu and Muslim empires is conducted as an amateur's trail through its archaeological remains, and sits alongside his vivid descriptions of the cosmopolitan contemporary urban cultures of the city. This article draws on the theories of Henri Lefebvre to argue that Chunder's subversive intellectual engagement with these past and present spaces and his attempt to carve new and energising vistas for a vernacular modernity are significantly shaped by the divisive and deterritorialising imperatives of colonial and capitalist spatial production, out of which a new Indian strain of anti-Semitism can gradually be seen to emerge. In Chunder's deterritorialising prose, we find some of the earliest forms of the vicious contradictions contained in the later territorial concept of 'Hindutva', which has become so important to the current political and sectarian projects of Hindu nationalism.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahai Faith. Theosophy, etc
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D203 Modern History, 1453-
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Alex Padamsee
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2017 15:11 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 16:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.