Child’s Play: Lives on the Yamuna


by Alexandre Marchand, Nishath Nizar and Samir Alam

The Yamuna river finds a place in every aspect of Indian life. From mythology to history, its meandering waters have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands and continue to do so even today.

The “Upper Yamuna” stretch of South Delhi has witnessed generations of families find a home on its banks. And it exists as a constant companion to the children of the local denizens. However Delhi’s growth over the last few decades has only served to diminish the magnificence of this sacred river.

Regardless of its seeming permanence in the future, it is unlikely that the river will succeed in finding a place in the lives of the next few generation of children. With the rapid encroachment of adjoining land and cordoning off all access to the river, children in the future will not be able to enjoy its gifts.

The Yamuna gives to all. The means for a livelihood as well the pleasure of having fun. And even though the very river that they so love is marred by the worst effluents of modern life, they embrace it for all that it provides; perhaps in ways that most living in Delhi will never know.

Many families engage in professions like washing clothes which is dependent on the Yamuna. Most of these clothes are dried on the river bank.

Mohammed Zayed carries a bundle of washed clothes to his mother for drying.

Children play next to the clothesline after helping put up clothes that their parents have washed.

A young boy fishes out a glass bottle out of the Yamuna. Most of the toys for these children are found in similar manner.

As the summer heat gets underway, boys along the river bank take a dip in the water

Arjun crosses a shallow estuary on the Yamuna bank as an excuse to enjoy the cool waters.

Young boys splash around in the river as soon as they reach home from school

Work before play. Tahir helps in washing the clothes while his friends frolic in the waters behind him.

Women folk along the river bed dry gobar (cattle dung), to later sell them as fertilizers and fuel.

Jhanvi, walks away from a gang of boys playing cricket after being denied a position on either teams.

Youngsters from around the locality gather here every evening to play a game of cricket.

The clean blue skies and ideal wind conditions make the river bank a haven for kite flying.

A little boy rides the donkey to the Yamuna to give it a bath.

A man gathers his horses on the river bank and bathes each of them one after the other.

As the summer sun sets down on another day, Delhi winds down next to the Yamuna.

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~ by furquansid on April 25, 2010.

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