New Delhi is the capital of India, and is part of the National capital territory of Delhi. It is the seat of governance of the world's largest liberal democracy. New Delhi is the third largest metropolis in India.
The name originates from the Persian word 'Dilli', which was the original name of the city. Historical evidence suggests that the area has been settled for atleast 2,500 years. In the 12th century, the Chauhans took control of Dilli. In 1193, Qutab-ud-din Aibak took control of Dilli and ushered in six and a half centuries of Muslim rule. He built the Qutub Minar in 1199. The Delhi Sultanate lasted from 1206 to 1526 while the Moghuls ruled from 1526 to 1857. Lal Qila (Red Fort) and Jama Masjid were built during the rule of the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658). The British captured Dilli in 1803 since when it probably came to be known as Delhi. The city was planned and built as a capital city, and was so named when the then British rulers moved the capital of British India to it in 1911 from Calcutta. It was built to the south of the then-existing urban area (including Shahjahanabad, and sometimes today known as 'old Delhi' or the 'old city'), on a site among the ruins of ancient Delhis.
The plan of the city was developed by architect Edwin Lutyens. Most of the institutions of the central government of India are still located in this area, in grand buildings designed by Lutyens or Herbert Baker.
The visiting French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, looking around at the half-built capital rising around him, is reported to have said, "this will be the greatest ruin of them all."
As of 2000, New Delhi's poulation is 11,680,000.
Delhi offers a multitude of interesting places and attractions to the visitor, so much so that it becomes difficult to decide from where to begin exploring the city. In Old Delhi, attractions like mosques, forts, and other monuments that depict India's Muslim history. The important places in Old Delhi includes the majestic Red Fort, the historical Chandni Chowk, besides Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana, the last two being modern structures constructed after India's Independence in 1947. New Delhi, on the other hand, is a modern city designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Delhi is a spacious, open city that houses many government buildings and embassies, apart from places of historical interest. Notable attractions in New Delhi include the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys; the India Gate, a memorial raised in honour of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war; the Laxminarayan Temple, built by the Birlas, one of India's leading industrial families; the Humayun's Tomb, said to be the forerunner of the Taj at Agra; the Purana Quila, built by Humayun, with later-day modifications by Sher Shah Suri; Tughlaqabad, Delhi's most colossal and awesome fort; Qutab Minar, built by Qutub-ud-din Aibek of the Slave Dynasty; and the lotus-shaped Baha'i Temple.
Modern Delhi, or New Delhi as it is called, centres around the Rashtrapati Bhawan. It is architecturally a very impressive building standing at a height, flowing down as it were to India Gate. This stretch called the Rajpath is where the Republic Day parade is held. The imposing plan of this area conceived by Lutyens does not fade in its charm with the numerous summers or winters that go past.
India Gate is a memorial raised in honour of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war. The green, velvety lawns at India Gate, particularly, are a popular evening and holiday rendezvous for young and old alike.
Also called the Birla Mandir, the Laxminarayan Temple was built by the Birla family in 1938. It is a temple with a large garden and fountains behind it. The temple attracts thousands of devotees on Janmashtami day, the birthday of Lord Krishna. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated in this temple complex in 1948.
Humayun's Tomb was built nine years after Humayun's death by his wife Haji Begum. Designed by a Persian architect named Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, and completed in 1565, the edifice was a trendsetter of the time. It is said that all later Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal, followed its design.
The Qutab Minar is located at a small village called Mehrauli in South Delhi. It was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibek of the Slave Dynasty, who took possession of Delhi in 1206. It is a fluted red sandstone tower, which tapers up to a height of 72.5 metres and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the holy Qur'an. Qutub-ud-din Aibak began constructing this victory tower as a sign of Muslim domination of Delhi and as a minaret for the Muslim priest, the muezzin, to call the faithful to prayer. However, only the first storey was completed by Qutb-ud-din. The other storeys were built by his successor Iltutmish. The two circular storeys in white marble were built by Ferozshah Tughlaq in 1368, replacing the original fourth storey.
The projected balconies in the tower are supported by exquisite stalactite designs. The tapering tower has pointed and circular flutings on the first storey and star-shaped on the second and third storeys. The bands of calligraphic inscriptions are amazing in perfection with the exquisite stalactite designs seen on the exterior of this tower.
The Qutab Minar, apart from being a marvel in itself, is also significant for what it represents in the history of Indian culture. In many ways, the Qutab Minar, the first monument of Muslim rule in India, heralded the beginning of a new style of art and architecture that came to be known as the Indo-Islamic style.
When one approaches old Delhi with a somewhat Westernised perception the emotional response can range from wonderment to bewilderment, from utter disgust to ecstasy. Undoubtedly, Old Delhi gives an insight into the multi-layered identity that so aptly characterizes India. The lanes are narrow, filled to bursting with people, throbbing with life. In the midst of this sea of people, suddenly you come face to face with the ramparts of the Red Fort. The decision for constructing the fort was taken in 1639, when Shahjahan decided to shift his capital to Delhi. Within eight years, Shahjahanabad was completed with the Red Fort-Qila-i-Mubarak (fortunate citadel)-Delhi's seventh fort, ready in all its magnificence to receive the Emperor. Though much has changed now because of large-scale demolitions during the British occupation of the fort, its important structures have survived, the glory faded with age but still impressive.
The living legacy of Delhi is Shahjahanabad. Created by the builder of Taj Mahal, this city, with the Red Fort as the focal point and Jama Masjid as the praying centre, has a fascinating market planned to shine under the light of the moon, called Chandni Chowk. Shahjahan planned Chandni Chowk so that his daughter could shop for all that she wanted. It was divided by canals filled with water, which glistened like silver in moonlight. The canals are now closed, but Chandni Chowk remains Asia's largest wholesale market. Crafts once patronized by the Mughals continue to flourish in the small lanes of the city. Tradition and modernity meet at unexpected places in Shahjahanabad. If you see a man pulling a rickshaw or feeding pigeons, you will see just as many talking over the cello or assembling a computer! An experience of timelessness awaits you at Shahjahanabad.
On the bank of the legendary Yamuna, which flows past Delhi, there is Raj Ghat-the last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. It has become an essential point of call for all visiting dignitaries. Two museums dedicated to Gandhi are situated nearby.
Lying close to the Raj Ghat, the Shanti Vana (literally, the forest of peace) is the place where India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was cremated. The area is now a beautiful park adorned by trees planted by visiting dignitaries and heads of state.
Baha'i Temple (Lotus Temple)
The Baha'i Temple, situated in South Delhi, is shaped like a lotus. It is an eye-catching edifice worth exploring. Built by the Baha'i community, it offers the visitor a serenity that pervades the temple and its artistic design.
The Purana Quila is a good example of medieval military architecture. Built by Humayun, with later-day modifications by Sher Shah Suri, the Purana Quila is a monument of bold design, which is strong, straightforward and every inch a fortress. It is different from the well-planned, carefully decorated, and palatial forts of the later Mughal rulers. Purana Quila is also different from the later forts of the Mughals, as it does not have a complex of palaces, administrative and recreational buildings, as is generally found in the forts built later on. The main purpose of this now-dilapidated fort was its utility, with less emphasis on decoration.
The Qal'a-I-Kunha Masjid and the Sher Mandal are two important monuments inside the fort.
When Ghazi Malik founded the Tughlaq Dynasty in 1321, he built the strongest fort in Delhi at Tughlaqabad, completed with great speed within four years of his rule. It is said that Ghazi Malik, when only a slave to Mubarak Khilji, had suggested this rocky prominence as an ideal site for a fort. The Khilji Sultan laughed and suggested that the slave build a fort there when he became a Sultan. Ghazi Malik as Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq did just that-Tughlaqabad is Delhi's most colossal and awesome fort, even in its ruined state. Within its sky-touching walls, double-storied bastions, and gigantic towers were housed grand palaces, splendid mosques, and audience halls.
~Researched By Ashraf Ali
The New Delhi Metro was introduced on the Christmas Day of 2002, serving the urban area. The system is planned to be completed in 2022.
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