Districts of Delhi : New Delhi
North East Delhi
South West Delhi
North West Delhi
Population : 13,782,976 (2nd) (2001)
Language(s) : Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu
Established : 1 November 1958
Delhi,often referred to as Dilli, is the second-largest metropolis in India, after Mumbai, with a population of 13 million, and with an extended metropolitan population of almost 22 million. Located in northern India on the banks of the River Yamuna, Delhi has the political status of a federally-administered union territory known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT). A constitutional amendment in 1991 gave Delhi a special status among the Union Territories; Delhi has its own legislative assembly with limited powers. The National Capital Territory of Delhi comprises nine districts, 27 tehsils, three statutory towns viz. Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC) and Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB), 59 census towns and 165 villages.
Delhi is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Having been the capital of several empires in ancient India, Delhi was a major city in the old trade routes from northwest India to the Gangetic Plains. Many ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance have been erected in its history. The Mughals built a section of the city (now known as Old City or Old Delhi) that served as the capital of Mughal Empire for a long period. During the British Raj, New Delhi was built as an administrative quarter of the city. New Delhi was declared the capital of India after India gained independence from British rule in 1947. As the seat of the Government of India, New Delhi houses important offices of the federal government, including the Parliament of India. Delhi has grown up to be a cosmopolitan city owing to the immigration of people from across the country. Like many other large cities of the world, Delhi suffers from urbanisation problems such as pollution, traffic congestion, and scarcity of resources. The rapid development and urbanisation of Delhi and surrounding areas coupled with the high average income of the populace has largely eclipsed socio-cultural traits that used to represent Delhi until a few years after independence.
At 72.5 m (238 ft), the Qutub Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret.
Built in 1560, the Humayun’s Tomb is a prime example of Mughal Architecture.
Built in 1921, the India Gate commemorates the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the Afghan Wars and World War IHuman habitation was probably present in and around Delhi during the second millennium BC and before, as evidenced by archeological relics. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Settlements grew from the time of the Mauryan Empire (c. 300 BC). Remains of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in 736 AD. The Chauhan Gurjars of Ajmer conquered Lal Kot in 1180 AD and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora. The Chauhan king Prithviraj III was defeated in 1192 by the Afghan Muhammad Ghori. In 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty established the Delhi Sultanate. Qutb-ud-din started the construction the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (might of Islam), the earliest extant mosque in India. After the fall of the Slave dynasty, a succession of Turkic and Central Asian dynasties, the Khilji dynasty, the Tughluq dynasty, the Sayyid dynasty and the Lodhi dynasty held power in the late medieval period, and built a sequence of forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi. In 1398, Timur Lenk invaded India on the pretext that the Muslim sultans of Delhi were too much tolerant to their Hindu subjects. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Delhi was a major center of sufism (a mystic tradition of Islam) during the Sultanate period. In 1526, Zahiruddin Babur defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
Book NowThe Mughal Empire ruled northern India for more than three centuries, with a five-year hiatus during Sher Shah Suri’s reign in the mid-16th century. Mughal emperor Akbar shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name (Shahjahanabad), and is more commonly known as the Old City or Old Delhi. The old city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire since 1638. Nader Shah defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal in February, 1739. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. In 1761, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali after the Third battle of Panipat. At the Battle of Delhi on 11 September 1803, General Lake’s British forces defeated the Marathas.
Delhi came under direct British control after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Shortly after the Rebellion, Calcutta was declared the capital of British India and Delhi was made a district province of the Punjab. In 1911, Delhi was again declared as the capital of British India. Parts of the old city were pulled down to create New Delhi; a monumental new quarter of the city designed by the British architect Edwin Lutyens to house the government buildings. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens’ Delhi, was officially declared as the seat of the Government of India and the capital of the republic after independence on 15 August 1947. During the partition of India thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees from West Punjab and Sindh migrated to Delhi. Migration to Delhi from the rest of India continues, contributing more to the rise of Delhi’s population than the birth rate, which is declining.
In 1984, the assassination of Indira Gandhi (Prime Minister of India) led to violent backlash against the Sikh community, resulting in over two thousand seven hundred deaths. The Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Act gave Delhi its own legislative assembly, though with limited powers.
The Masjid-i-Jahan Numa, commonly known as Jama Masjid, is the largest mosque in India. Rice and Chicken Chilli from Delhi. Traditional Indian pottery on display in Dilli Haat.Delhi’s culture has been influenced by its lengthy history and historic association as the capital of India. This is exemplified by the many monuments of significance found in the city; the Archaeological Survey of India recognises 175 monuments in Delhi as national heritage sites. The Old City is the site where the Mughals and the Turkic rulers constructed several architectural marvels like the Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque) and Red Fort. Three World Heritage Sites—the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb—are located in Delhi. Other monuments include the India Gate, the Jantar Mantar (an 18th century astronomical observatory) and the Purana Qila (a 16th century fortress). The Laxminarayan Temple, Akshardham and the Bahá’í Lotus Temple are examples of modern architecture. Raj Ghat and associated memorials houses memorials of Mahatma Gandhi and other notable personalities. New Delhi houses several government buildings and official residences reminiscent of the British colonial architecture. Important structures include the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Secretariat, Rajpath, the Parliament of India and Vijay Chowk. Safdarjung’s Tomb is an example of the Mughal gardens style
Delhi’s association and geographic proximity to the capital, New Delhi, has amplified the importance of national events and holidays. National events such as Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi’s birthday) are celebrated with great enthusiasm in Delhi. On India’s Independence Day (15 August) the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from the Red Fort. Most Delhiites celebrate the day by flying kites, which are considered a symbol of freedom. The Republic Day Parade is a large cultural and military parade showcasing India’s cultural diversity and military might.
Religious festivals include Diwali (the festival of lights), Jain Paryushan Parv, Mahavir Jayanti, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, Durga Puja, Holi, Lohri, Maha Shivaratri, Eid, Phulwalon Ki Sair and Buddha Jayanti. The Qutub Festival is a cultural event during which performances of musicians and dancers from all over India are showcased at night, with the Qutub Minar as the chosen backdrop of the event. Other events such as Kite Flying Festival, International Mango Festival and Vasant Panchami (the Spring Festival) are held every year in Delhi.
Punjabi cuisine and Mughlai delicacies like kababs and biryanis are popular in several parts of Delhi. Due to Delhi’s large cosmopolitan population, cuisines from every part of India, including Rajasthani, Maharashtrian, Bengali, Hyderabadi cuisines, and South Indian food items like idli, sambar and dosa are widely available. Local delicacies include Chaat and Dahi-Papri. There are several food outlets in Delhi serving international cuisine including Italian and Chinese.Historically, Delhi has always remained an important trading centre in northern India. Old Delhi still contains legacies of its rich Mughal past that can be found among the old city’s tangle of snaking lanes and teeming bazaars. The dingy markets of the Old City has an eclectic product range from oil-swamped mango, lime and eggplant pickles, candy-colored herbal potions to silver jewelry, bridal attire, uncut material and linen, spices, sweets. Some of old regal havelis (palacial residences) are still there in the Old City. Chandni Chowk, a three century old shopping area, is one of the most popular shopping areas in Delhi for jewelery and Zari saris. Notable among Delhi’s arts and crafts are the Zardozi (an embroidery done with gold thread) and Meenakari (the art of enameling). Dilli Haat, Hauz Khas, Pragati Maidan offer a variety of Indian handicrafts and handlooms. However, the city is said to have lost its own identity and socio-cultural legacies as it went to absorb multitude of humanity from across the country and has morphed into an amorphous pool of cultural styles.