In the parched landscape of historical records native to the hills – Himachal Pradesh in particular – a few, very few, refreshing works stand out. Among them is this 18th century chronicle in verse from the small state of Guler: written by a virtually unknown poet who came to these parts from somewhere outside, about a patron who occupies very little space in history, even that of the hills. And yet this is a compelling work: invaluable as much for its genuinely poetic feel as for the manner in which it brings the rich cultural life of the region alive. What is more: there is a measure of history in it – ancestors with their glorious exploits peep in; invaders flit in and out; victorious campaigns are mounted – even as the account is couched in hyperbolic terms and laced with courtly flourishes.
The Diliparanjani – a well-chosen title, meaning literally, 'Delighter of the heart of Dilip', the royal patron of the poet – can yield both pleasure and profit even to the modern reader. This is the first time the text has been translated from its original Avadhi Hindi, edited in its entirety, and introduced by a lucid and scholarly essay.