Delhi is the capital of India and its third Largest City. The city actually consists of two Parts.
Delhi has not always been the capital of India, but it has played an important role in Indian history.
Delhi is the capital of India and its third Largest City. The city actually consists of two Parts. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries. In Old Delhi you will find many. Mosques monuments and forts relating to India's Muslim history, The other Delhi is New Delhi, the imperial city created as the capital of India by the British. It is a spacious, open city and contains many embassies and government buildings. In addition to its historic interest and role as the government centre, Delhi is a major travel gateway. It is one of India's busiest entrance points for overseas airlines, the hub of the north Indian travel network and a stop on the overland route across Asia. The city of Delhi covers most of the Delhi Union Territory, which is a federal district similar to Washington DC. Not many travellers have a lot of good things to say about Delhi, and air pollution has now become so bad here it's said to be the world's second dirtiest city (after Mexico City). It does, however, have a long and fascinating history and there are plenty of interesting things to see.
Delhi has not always been the capital of India, but it has played an important role in Indian history. The settlement of Indraprastha, which featured in the epic Mahabharata over 3000 years ago, was located approximately on the site of present-day Delhi. Over 2000 years ago, Pataliputra (near modern-day Pat- was the capital of Emperor Ashoka's kingdom. The Mughal emperors made Agra the capital through the 16th and 17th centuries. Under the British, Calcutta was the capital until the construction of New Delhi in 1911. There 'have been at least eight cities around modem Delhi, and the old saying that whoever founds a new city at Delhi will lose it has-~ true every time - most recently for the British who founded New Delhi in, 1911. The first four cities were to the South around the area where the Qutab Minar stands. Indraprastha, the earliest known Deli, was centred near present-day Purana Qila. At the beginning of the 12th century the last Hindu kingdom of Delhi was ruled by the Tomara and Chauthan dynasties and was also near the Qutab Minar and Suraj Kund now in Haryana. This city was followed by Siri, constructed by Ala-ud-din near present-day Hau-z Khas in the12th century. The thirdDelhi was Tughlaqabad, now entirely in ruin which stood 10kna south-cast of the Qutab Minar. The fourth Delhi dates from the 14 th century and was also a creation of the Tughlaqs.
Known as Jahanpanah, it also stood near the Qutab Minar. The fifth. Delhi, Ferozabad, was sited at Feroz Shah Kotla in near India Gate in New Delhi. Its ruins contain an Ashoka pillar, moved here from elsewhere, and traces of a mosque in which Tamerlane prayed during his attack on India. Emperor Sher Shah created the sixth Delhi at Purana Qila, near India Gate in New Delhi today. Sher Shah was an Afghan ruler who defeated the Mughal Humayun and took control of Delhi. The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, constructed the seventh Delhi in the 17th century, thus shifting the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi; his Shahjahanadad roughly corresponds to Old Delhi today and is largly preserved. His Delhi include the Red Fort and majestic Jama Masjid(a masjid is a mosque). Finally, the eighth Delhi, New Delhi was constructed by the British- the move from Calcutta was announced in 1911 but construction was not completed, and the city officially inaugrated, untill 1931.
Delhi has seen many invaders through the ages. Tamerlane plundered it in the 14th century; the Afghan Babur occupied it in 16th century; and in 1739 the Persian emperor, Nadir Shah, sacked the city and carted the Kohinoor Diamond and the famous Peacock Throne Off to Iran. The British occupied delhi in 1803, but during the Indian Uprising of 1857 it was a centre of resistance against the British, Prior to Partition, Delhi had a very large Muslim population and Urdu was the main language. Now Hindu Punjabis have replaced many of the Muslims, and Hindi predominates.
The red sandstone walls of Lal Qila, the Red Fort, extend for two km and vary in height from 18m on t46 riverside to 33m on the city side. Shah Jahan started construction of the massive fort in 1638 and it was completed in 1648. He never completely moved his capital from Agra to his new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi because he was deposed and imprisoned in Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb.
The Red Fort dates from the very peak of Mughal power. When the emperor rode out on elephant-back into the streets of Old Delhi it was a display of pomp and power at its most magnificent. The Mughal reign from Delhi was a short one, however: Aurangzeb was the first and last great Mughal emperor to rule from here.
Today, the fort is typically Indian, with would-be guides leaping forth to offer their services as soon you enter. It's still a calm haven of peace if you've just left the frantic streets of Old Delhi, however. e city noise and confusion are light years away from the fort gardens and pavilions. The Yamuna River used to flow right by the eastern edge of the foil, and filled the 10m deep moat. These days the river is over one km to the east and the moat remains empty. Entry to the fort is Rs. 2 (free on Friday) from the kiosk opposite the main gate. Check your change.
The main gate to the fort takes its name from the fact that it faces towards Lahore, now in Pakistan. If one spot could be said to be the emotional and symbolic heart of the modern Indian nation, the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort is probably it. During the struggle for independence, one of nationalists' declarations was that they would seethe Indian flag flying over the Red Fort in Delhi. After independence, Nehru gave many important political speeches and Indira Gandhi to the crowd amassed on the maiden (open place or square) outside and on Independence Day (15 August) each year, the Prime Minister addresses a huge crowd from the gate.
You enter the fort here and immediately find yourself in a vaulted arcade, the Chatta Chowk (Covered Bazaar). The shops in this arcade used to sell the upmarket items that the royal household might fancy - silks, jewellery, gold. These days they cater to the tourist trade and the quality of the goods is certainly a little lower, although some still carry a royal price tag! This arcade of shops was also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping centre for ladies of the court. On Thursdays the gates of the fort were closed to men; only women were allowed inside the citadel.
The arcade, de leads to the Naubat Khans, or Drum House, where musicians used to play for the emperor, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here. There's a dusty Indian War Memorial museum (free) upstairs. The open courtyard beyond the Drum House formerly had galleries along either side, but the British Army removed these when the fort was used as their headquarters. Other reminders of the British presence are the monumentally ugly, three storey barrack blocks, which lie to the north of this courtyard.
The Hall of Public Audiences was where the emperor would sit to hear complaints is or disputes from his subjects. His alcove in the wall was marble-panelled and set with precious stones, many of which were looted following the Mutiny/Uprising. Lord Curzon, the viceroy of India between 1.89, e and 1905 restored this elegant hall as a result of a directive.
The Hall of Private Audiences, built of white marble, was the luxurious chamber where the emperor would hold private meetings. Centrepiece of the hall (until Nadir Shah carted it off to Iran in 1739) was the magnificent Peacock Throne The solid gold throne had figures of peacocks standing behind it, their beautiful colours resulting from countless inlaid precious stones. Between them was the figure of a parrot carved out of a single emerald.
This masterpiece in precious metals, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and pearls was broken up, and the so-called Peacock Throne displayed in Tehran simply utilises various bits of the original. The marble pedestal on which the throne used to sit remains in place.
In 1760, the Marathas also removed the silver ceiling from the hall, so today it is a pale shadow of its former glory. Inscribed on the walls of the Diwan-i-Khas is that famous Persian couplet:
Royal Baths; Next to the Diwan-i-Khas are the hammams or baths - three large rooms surmounted by domes, with a fountain in the centre - one of which was set up as a sauna. The floors used to be inlaid with pietra dura work, and the rooms were illuminated through panels of coloured glasses in the roof. The baths are closed to the public.
This modest, three storey octagonal tower at the north-eastern edge of the fort was once Shah Jahan's private working area. From here water used to flow south through the Royal Baths, the Diwan-i-Khas, the Khas Mahal and the Rang Mahal. Like the bath, the tower is closed to the public.
Built in 1659 by Aurangzeb for his own personal use, the small and totally enclosed Pearl Mosque, made of marble, is next to the baths. One curious feature of the mosque is that its outer walls are oriented exactly to be in symmetry with the rest of the fort, while the inner walls are slightly askew, so that the mosque has the correct orientation with Mecca.
Other Features The Khas Mahal, south of the Diwan-I-Khas, was the emperor's private palace, divided into rooms for worship, sleeping and living.
or Palace of Colour, further south again, took Its name from the painted Interior, which is now gone. This was once the residence of the emperor's chief wife, and is where he ate. On the floor in the centre is a beautifully carved marble lotus, and the water flowing along the channel from the Shahi Burj used to end up here. Originally there was a fountain made of ivory in the centre.
There is a small Museum of Archaeology in the Mumtaz Mahal, still further south along the eastern wall. It's well worth a look, although most visitors seem to rush through the Red Fort, by passing the museum.
Another museum that's worth seeing is the newly-opened Svatantrata Sangrama Sangrahalaya(Museum of the independence Movement), to the left before the Naubat Khana, amongst the army buildings. The independence movement is charted with photos, letters, newspaper cuttings and several impressive dioramas. Did the Rani of Jhansi really ride into battle with a baby strapped to her back? There's no charge for entry.
Gardens Between all the exquisite buildings were highly formal charbagh gardens, complete with fountains, pools and small pavilions. While the general outline and some of the pavilions are still in Place, the gardens are not what they once were.
Sound & Light Show each evening an interesting sound & light show recreates events of India's history, particularly those connected with the Red Fort. There are shows in English and Hindi, and tickets (RS 20) are available from the fort. The English sessions are at 7.30 PM from November through January, 8.30 PM from February to April and September-October, and at 9 PM from May to August. It's well worth making the effort to see this show, but make sure you are well equipped with mosquito repellent.
The old walled city of Shahjahanadad stands to the west of the Red Fort was at one time Surrounded by a strudy defensive wall, only fragments of which now exist.
At the northern end of the walled city, was the scene of desperate fighting when the British retook Delhi during the Mutiny. West of here, near Sabji Mandi, is the British-erected Mutiny Memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives during the uprising. Near the monument is an Ashoka pillar, anf like the one in Feroz Shah Kotla, it was brought here by Feroz Shah Tughlaq.
The main streetof the Old Delhi is the colorful shopping bazaar known as Chandni Chowk. It's hopelessly congested day and night, a sharp contrast to the spacious streets of New Delhi. At the east(Red Fort) end of Chandni Chowk, there is a DIGAMBAR JAIN MANDIR(temple) with a small marble courtyard and surrounded by a colonnade. There's interesting Bird hospital here, run by Jains.
This monument is next to the kotwali(old police station) . In 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian invader who carried off the Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor Diamond when he sacked Delhi, stood on the roof of this mosque and watched while his soldiers conducted a bloody massacre of Delhi's inhabitants.
This is at the west end of the Chandni Chowk, which was erected in 1650 by one of the Shah Jahan's wives.
The great mosque of Old Delhi is both the largest in India and the final Architecture extravagance of Shah Jahan. Begun in 1644, the mosque was not completed until 1658. It has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40m high and constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble.
The broad flights of step lead up to the imposing gateways. The eastern gateway was originally opened for the emperor, and now opened on Fridays and on Muslim Festivals. The southern Minaret gives the views in all directions-Old Delhi, the Red Fort and beyond it across the river and New Delhi to the south. You can also see one of the features that the architect Lutyens incorporated into his design of New Delhi- the Jama Masjid, Connaught Place and Sansad Bhavan(Parliament House) are in a direct line. There's also fine view of the Red Fort from the East Side of the mosque.
Feroz Shah Kotla
Erected by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1354, the ruins of Ferozadad, the fifth city of Delhi, can be found at Feroz Shah Kotla, just off Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg between the old Delhiand New Delhi. In the fortress-palace is 13m high sandstone Ashoka Pillar inscribed with Ashoka's edicts (and a later inscription). The remains of an Old mosque and a fine well can be seen in the area, but most of the ruins of Ferozadad were used for the construction of later cities.
North-east of Feroz Shah Kotla, on the banks of the Yamuna, a simple square platform of black marble marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. A commemorative ceremony takes place each Friday, the day he was killed. The Raj Ghat is now a beautiful park. The Gandhi Memorial Museum here is worth a visit.
Connaught place, Rajiv Chowk, Indira Chowk, Jantar Mantar, Lakshmi Narayan Temple, BIRLA MANDIR, Connaught Place, Rajpath, India Gate, Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Raisina Hill, Mughal Garden, Sansad Bhavan