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State : Delhi
Country: India

Built to be the capital, Delhi had seen the rise and fall of many Kingdoms and Empires. Every dynasty that ruled Delhi left behind some kind of a seal or monument for the world to admire and remember.

History: Delhi, situated between the Aravalli hills and the River Yamuna, had the attention of almost every conqueror in this part of the world. The oldest reference to Delhi is made in the Mahabharata that states that Pandavas founded a city called Indraprasta beside the River Yamuna in 1450 BC.
Since then conquerors from the north treated Delhi as the gateway to the Indian sub-continent, with repeated invasion and creation of empires and kingdoms, Delhi was built and demolished time again. Thus in the course of history seven medieval cities were formed

King Anangpal of Tomar built the first city of Delhi in 1069 AD. Prithviraj Chuhan, the famous Rajput hero, and Qutub-ud-din Aibak the first sultan of Delhi improved on it. Qutub Minar from the time of Qutub-ud-din is still a dominant structure in Delhi

During the 11th century AD Alaudin-Khalji built a new city called Siri. This magnificent city located northeast of original Tomar city is the second medieval city of Delhi.

When Tughlaq dynasty came into being in 1320, Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq built Tughlaqabad, the third city of Delhi, in the hills of South Delhi. The forth city of Delhi was Jahanpanah. Sultan Mohamed Tughlaq, the son of Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq built it between Lalkot and Siri. With Feroz Shah at the helm of reign, Delhi prospered and peace prevailed. He built the fifth city of Delhi along the banks of River Yamuna. He also built many palaces, mosques and gardens.

After the battle of Panipat I in 1526 Mughals established their supremacy over Delhi. Humayun started building the Mughal capital of Dinapana. But Sher Shah, the Afgan warrior drove him out and established a mighty empire with the best administration system that the city had ever seen. His capital Shergarh, the sixth city of Delhi, extended from purana Quila (old fort) to the edge of Feroz Shah Kotla.

In 1555 Humayun regained power and Mughals ruled Delhi once again. During Akbar's reign Agra was the capital of Mughals. In 1638 Shahjahan shifted the capital to Delhi and built the seventh city of Delhi, Shahajahanabad by 1648. Many monuments of Shahjahanabad remain in old Delhi.

The decline of Mughal Empire began during the reign of Aurengazeb. In the 19th century British East India Company rose into power.
The last of Mughal Emperors, Bahadur Shah Zafar surrendered to the British. In the coronation Durbar in 1911, King George V formally announced the transfer of British Indian Capital from Calcutta to Delhi. British architects Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker designed New Delhi, the eighth city of Delhi. In 1931, New Delhi was inaugurated as the capital of Imperial India. After independence New Delhi continued as the capital of Union of India.


About Delhi
The capital of India, Delhi blends a historic past and a vibrant present. The Imperial city planned for the British by Lutyens is set in parks and shaded avenues. Legend has it that Delhi, then called Indraprastha, was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas, the august heroes of the epic Mahabharata. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities.

Surrounded by the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this bustling city has a blend of the old and the new, the oriental and the western, the quiet and the congested. Spread over 1485 sq. kms, the city is home to 10.0 million people from all over the country..

The ancient and the modern times are in juxtaposition here, not only in the remains of a succession of empires, but equally in present social structure and lifestyles. The name Delhi, Dehali, or Dilli is derived from Dhillika, the name of the first medieval township of Delhi, located on the southwestern border of the present Delhi, in Mehrauli.

This was the first in the series of seven medieval cities. It is also known as Yoginipura, that is, the fortress of the yoginis (female divinities).The capital of India, now given the status of an independent state, is also its seat of power. Delhi is divided in two parts-Old and New Delhi. The old city is settled within the remnants of a sturdy defensive wall and spread to the west of the famous Red Fort built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648 A.D. The planning of New Delhi began in 1911 under Edwin Lutyens, soon after the declaration of King Emperor George V at the Delhi Durbar, that the capital of India was to move from Calcutta to Delhi. Meant to be an emphatic statement of the magnificence and permanence of British rule in India, the new city was inaugurated on 9th of February, 1931.

Delhi has a history that stretches back to 3000 years. Indraprastha, the seat of the Pandavas in the early centuries of the era, was situated in Purana Quila, and is believed to be Delhi's earliest city. Repeated invasions have also struck at various times in history - Timur in the 14th century, Babur in the 16th century and the British in the 19th century are among those who invaded Delhi. The sites of interest in Delhi are grouped in three main areas-Shahjahanabad about 7 km to the North of Connaught Circus, 10 km to the South is the Qutub Minar complex and the old fortress city of Tughlaqabad, 8 km to the British built capital of New Delhi, with its government buildings and wide avenues.

Qutab Minar Complex:

The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the adjoining mosque and was used by the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer. No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world.

Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmish, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughlak are quite evident in the minar. The relief work and even the materials used for construction differ.
The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to nine feet . The tower is ornamented by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets.

Even in ruin, the Quwwat Ul Islam (Light of Islam) Mosque in the Qutab complex is one of the most magnificent in the world. Its construction was started by Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1193 and the mosque was completed in 1197. Additions were made to the building by Iltutmish in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315.

The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard, of which the inner is surrounded by an exquisite collonade, the pillars of which are made of richly decorated shafts. Most of these shafts are from the 27 Hindu temples which are plundered to construct the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque has typical Hindu ornamentations.

Close to the mosque is one of Delhi's most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar. Dating back to the 4th century AD, the pillar bears an inscription which states that it was erected as flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu, and in the memory of the Gupta king Chandragupta II (375-413). How the pillar moved to its present location remains a mystery. The pillar also highlights ancient India's achievements in metallurgy. The pillar is made of 98 per cent wrought iron and has stood 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing.

Purana Quilla:

The fort is said to be constructed on the historic site of Indraprastha (900 BC) by Humayun and Sher Shah. Covering a circuit of about a mile, the walls of the fort have three gates and are surrounded by a moat fed by the river Yamuna. The wall was built the fort are attributed to Sher Shah. The notable buildings that have survived in the fort are the Sher Mandal and the Quila- i- Kuhna Mosque.
Sher Mandal is a two storeyed octagonal tower which was used by Humayun as his library. The mosque, built around 1541-42, is a landmark in Indo Islamic architecture. The architect has shown skill by enriching each part with moulding, bracketed openings, marble inlay, carving and other establishments. A variety of materials have also been used to construct the small mosque (168x44 feet). The entrance arch is of marble, the spandrels of red sandstone studded with marble bosses, the columns and pilasters of black and white marble.

Hamayun Tomb:

The Mughals brought with them a love for gardens, fountains and water. The first mature example of Mughal architecture in India, Humayun's Tomb was built by the emperor's grieving widow, Haji Begum, in 1565 AD. Constructed with red sandstone and ornamented with marble bands, this mausoleum marks the beginning of a new tradition of ornate style which culminated in the Taj Mahal of Agra.
Designed by the Persian architect, Mirza Ghyas, Humayun's Tomb shows a marked shift from the Persian tradition of using coloured tiles for ornamentation. Located in the midst of a large square garden, screened by high walls, with gateways to the south and west, the tomb is a square tower surmounted by a magnificent marble dome. The dome stands 140 feet from the base of the terrace and is topped with a copper pinnacle. In addition to the remains of Humayun, the complex also houses the grave of many other distinguished members of the Mughal dynasty.

Jantar Mantar:

At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears like a gallery of modern art. It is, however, an observatory. Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments. Under patronage from the emperor, he set on himself the task of correcting the existing astronomical tables and updating the almanac with more reliable instruments.
Delhi's Jantar Mantar is the first of the five observatories that he built with large masonary instruments.The observatory has the Samrat Yantra, a simple equal hour sun dial, the Ram Yantra for reading altitudinal angles; Jai Prakash for ascertaining the position of the sun and other celestial bodies, and the Misra Yantra which is a combination of four scientific gadgets.

Red Fort:

So called because of the red stone with which it is built, the Red Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. India's history is also closely linked with this fort. It was from here that the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of the three century long Mughal rule. It was also from its ramparts that the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, announced to the nation that India was free from colonial rule.

The Mughals emperor, Shah Jahan, after ruling from Agra for eleven years, decided to shift to Delhi and laid the foundation stone of the Red Fort in 1618. For its inauguration in 1647, the main halls of the palace were draped in rich tapestry and covered with silk from China and velvet from Turkey. With a circumference of almost one and a half miles, the fort is an irregular octagon and has two entrances, the Lahore and Delhi Gates.

From the Lahore Gate, a visitor has access to the Chatta Chowk (vaulted arcade) which was once a royal market and housed court jewellers, miniature painters, carpet manufacturers, workers in enamel, silk weavers and families of specialised craftsmen. The road from the royal market leads to the Nawabatkhana (band house) where the royal band played five times a day. The band house also marks the entry into the main palace and all visitors, except royalty had to dismount here.

The Diwan-i-Am is the Red Fort's hall of public audience. Built of sandstone covered with shell plaster polished to look like ivory, the 80 x 40 feet hall is sub-divided by coloumns. The Mughal emperors would hold court here and meet dignitaries and foreign emissaries. The most imposing feature of the Diwan-i-Am is the alcove in the back wall where the emperor sat in state on a richly carved and inlaid marble platform. In the recess behind the platform are fine examples of Italian pietra-dura work.

The piece de resistance of the fort, the Diwan-i-Khas, was the hall of private audience. The most highly ornamented of all Shah Jahan's buildings, the 90 x 67 feet Diwan-i-Khas is a pavilion of white marble supported by intricately carved pillars. So enamoured was the emperor by the beauty of this pavilion that he engraved on it the following words : 'If there is paradise on the face of this earth, it is this, it is this,it is this.'

Richly decorated with flowers of inlaid mosaic work of cornelian and other stones, the Diwan-i- Khas once housed the famous Peacock Throne, which when it was plundered by Nadir Shah in 1739, was valued at six million sterling.

Residence of the senior queens, the Rang Mahal (hall of colours) has a central hall surrounded by six apartments. The apartments are assured privacy by intricately carved screens which do not hinder the free flow of fresh air and light. The stream of paradise flows through the main hall, and is marked in the centre by a huge lotus shaped marble basin with a ivory fountain.

Constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1662 as his private mosque Moti Masjid (pearl mosque) is built with highly polished marble. The mosque is a good example of the Mughal fetish for symmetry with cusped arches, sinous decorative designs, carved cornices and bulbous domes.

Other buildings of interest in the Red Fort complex are the Muthamman Burg (octagonal tower), Khwabgah (bedroom) and the Hammam (royal baths).

Jama Masjid:

Work on the Jama Masjid mosque was begun in 1650 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to complement his palace at the Red Fort. More than 5,000 workers toiled for six years to complete the largest mosque in India, Every Friday, the emperor and his retinue would travel in state from the fort to the mosque to attend the congressional prayers

A fine example of Mughal architecture, the Jama Masjid has three gateways. The largest and highest on the east was reserved exclusively for the emperor. The main courtyard of the mosque is 408 square feet and paved with red stone. In the centre is a large marble tank in which the devout wash before attending prayers. The main mosque is crowned by three onion shaped domes made of white marble and inlaid with stripes of black slate. On the north and south of the complex are two 130 feet high minarets which offer a spectacular bird's eye-view of the city.

Jama Masjid is not only architecturally beautiful, but also a place of great religious significance as it houses a relic of the Prophet and also a chapter of the Holy Quran written by him.

India Gate:

Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 Indian soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931.

Located on Rajpath, the road which leads to the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhawan, the gate is 160 feet high with an arch of 138 feet.

Built from sandstone, the arch also houses the Eternal Flame, a gesture in memory of the Indian soldiers who laid their lives in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

India Gate:

Formely the Viceregal Lodge, the building is the highlight of Lutyen's New Delhi and was completed in 1929 at a cost of 12,53,000 pound sterling.

Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms.

At one time, 2,000 people were required to look after the building and serve the Viceroy's household.
The Lodge also has an impressive garden called the Mughal Garden, which is open to public twice in a year, usually in February and March.

General Information:

Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max.41.2, Min.21.4;
Winter- Max.33.7, Min.6.8.
Languages Spoken : Hindi, English and Bengali in some parts.
Best Season : September to March.

ACCESS: Air : Delhi is well connected with major cities in India by Indian
Airlines. Other private Airlines like Damania Airlines, East West Airlines, City Link Airlines also connect Delhi with Calcutta, Bombay etc.
Rail: Delhi is the headquarters of the Northern Railway and is the most well connected railhead both on broad guage (New Delhi) and meter guage (Delhi Main) railway line with all of the major places in India.
Road: Delhi is at the intersection of several national highways and is well connected by regular bus services from Inter State bus terminal (ISBT), Kashmiri Gate to Agra-203 kms, Allahabad-603 kms, Almora-373 kms, Amritsar -447 kms, Bhakra-354 kms, Bharatpur-190 kms, Calcutta-1490 kms, Chandigarh -238 kms, Corbett National Park-297 kms, Jaipur-258 kms, Khajuraho-596 kms, Kulu-502 kms, Mathura-147 kms, Mussoorie-269 kms, Nainital-318 kms, Shimla -343 kms, Shrinagar-376 kms, Udaipur-663 kms, Varanasi-738 kms etc.