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Delhi (Hindi: दिल्ली, Urdu: دلّی, Punjabi: ਦਿੱਲੀ) is India's capital city and the home of executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the Government of India. Delhi is a large metropolis with strengths in arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence.

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History

Delhi is said to be one of the oldest existing cities in the world, along with Jerusalem and Varanasi. Legend estimates it to be over 5,000 years old. Over the millennia, Delhi is said to have been built and destroyed 11 times. The oldest alleged incarnation of the city shows up in the Indian mythological epic Mahabharata as Indraprastha.

  • Qila Rai Pithora – This dates back to the 10th century A.D. as per available historical records. Also known as Rai Pithora, this city was the capital during the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan, the local hero famous for his first defeating, before finally losing to, the marauding invaders from central Asia (Muhammad Ghori in particular). Chauhan’s ancestors are said to have captured the city from the Tomar Rajputs who were credited with founding Delhi. Anangpal, a Tomar ruler possibly created the first known regular fort here called ‘Lal Kot’, which was taken over by Prithviraj and the city extended. Some of the ruins of the fort ramparts are still visible around Qutab Minar and Mehrauli.
  • Mehrauli – Muhammad Ghori managed to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan in battle in 1192. Ghori left his slave Qutub-ud-din Aibak as his viceroy, who in turn captured Delhi the subsequent year. After Ghori’s death in 1206, Aibak proclaimed himself the ruler of Delhi and founded the slave dynasty. Qutb-ud-din contributed significantly in terms of architecture by getting Mehrauli built. His most prominent contribution is the starting of Qutab Minar. This 72.5 m tall tower was built across three generations and finally completed in 1220AD. A visitor to the Qutab Minar could also see the mausoleum of Kaki, Shamsi Talao and some other mosques. The Slave dynasty ruled until 1290, among them was Razia Sultan who ruled for just three years, but became a historic figure for being the first empress in India.
  • Siri – Qutubuddin Aibaq’s ‘Slave Dynasty’ was followed by the line of Khilji (or Khalji) rulers. The most prominent among the six rulers was Allauddin who extended the kingdom to the south of Narmada and also established the city of ‘Siri’. Among some of the remaining ruins, is part of the Siri Fort in the greater Hauz Khas area. The madrasa at Hauz Khas was constructed during Allauddin’s reign and bears the stamp of West Asian architecture. Hauz Khas is more often visited today for the chic botiques and restaurants.
  • Tughlakabad – Exactly as it happens during the fall of a lineage of kings, after the Khilji’s there was administrative chaos for sometime as the last Khilji ruler was slain by Nasruddin Mohammed. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (a Turk governor) invaded Delhi in the 1320s, started the Tughlaq dynasty, and founded the city of Tughlakabad, the ruins of which still remain. His descendant Muhammad Bin Tughlaq raised the fort walls, created another city called Jahapanah (which enclosed the area between Siri and Qila Rai Pithora). Tughlakabad continued, however, to be the main capital city. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq is also known as the mad king for wanting to move the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (now near Aurangabad in Maharashtra) and making the entire population travel, only to return in a few years because of water shortage in the new town.
  • Firozabad – Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s son, Firoze created the next city which was called Firozabad or Firoze Shah Kotla. There still are some ruins which are visible around the cricket stadium by the same name. The city was a enclosed a large area, and contained many palaces, mosques, pillared halls, and multi-floored water tank. Firoze Shah also planted a 1500 year old Ashokan Pillar on top of the palace. This pillar was originally planted in Meerut by Samrat Ashok.Feroze Shah, also repaired many of the older construction in Delhi including Ghori’s tomb, Qutub Minar,Suraj Kund and Hauz Khas. He, himself, was buried inside a lofty tomb in Hauz Khas. Quite like earlier, after Feroze Shah’s death, the sultnate became unstable and weak, and was invaded by Taimur the Lame (from Samarkhand) who created havoc in the city by looting, killing, raping and plundering. The Sayyids and Lodhis who ruled Delhi after the Tughlaq’s paid more attention to re-establishing miltiary and political stability to the kingdom. The only relevant architecture visible from this period are the tombs at Lodhi Gardens. The last of the Lodhi’s was defeated by Babur in the first battle of Panipat. Babur then proceeded to establish the Mughal dynasty.
  • Shergarh – Babur’s son Humayun ruled the kingdom for a few years only to be defeated by Sher Shah Suri (1540), who established the new city Shergarh (on the ruins of Dinpanah, built by Humayun) towards the north and near the river. Shergarh is what you see at Purana Qila today, near the Delhi zoo. After Humayun came back to power, he completed the construction and proceeded to rule from Shergarh.
  • Shahjahanabad – the next of the Mughal emperors chose to move away from Delhi and established Agra as the capital of their kingdom. Shahjahan (Humayun’s great-grandson) returned to Delhi and established Shahjahanabad. This included the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and all that in enclosed within the walls of Old Delhi. This wall is still around in many parts and three of the six gates (Delhi gate, Lahori Gate, Turkman Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Mori Gate)to Delhi still exist. Kashmiri Gate was reconstructed and widened by the British after the 1857 revolt.
  • Lutyen’s New Delhi – The final city as you see today expanded from what Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The population of Delhi is a heterogeneous mix of people originally belonging to different parts of North India and beyond. Among the prominent North Indian communities are the Punjabis. Delhi also has a prominent South Indian Community, primarily in areas like RK Puram, Mayur Vihar and Munirka. A Bengali Settlement, the Chittaranjan Park in south Delhi is the Mini Calcutta of Delhi. Quality education also draws students from different states, making up one of the most diverse student populations in the country.

Orientation

Like the rest of the Gangetic Plains, Delhi is as flat as a pancake. The only geographical features of any significance are the river Yamuna, which flows down the eastern side of the city, and the Aravalli Hills which form a wide but low arc across the west. On the west bank is the crowded and congested Old (Central) Delhi and, to the southwest, the broad, tree-lined avenues of New Delhi, built by the British to rule their empire. The rest is an endless low-rise sprawl of suburbia and slums, with southwestern Delhi (nearer to New Delhi) generally somewhat wealthier.

New Delhi

The capital of India built by the British. It also houses few of the most famous hotels you can find in India like: The Leela Ambience The Grand jüSTa Hotels & Resorts

New Delhi is also famous for its luxurious wedding and celebration in places like: The Jehan

South Delhi

South Delhi is a more affluent area and is the location of many upscale hotels and shopping malls, quaint guesthouses. It also includes the Qutab Minar, a major tourist attraction. The area is easy to get around via taxi/car and is served by 3 metro lines.

Old Delhi

The capital during the Mughal period.

North Delhi

This area includes many buildings developed during British rule. Majnu Ka Tilla is a Tibetan settlement in the area.

Climate

The shoulder seasons (Feb-Mar and Oct-Nov) are the best times to visit, with temperatures in the 20-30°C range (68-86°F). From April to June, temperatures are scorchingly hot (over 40°C is common) and, with every air-conditioner running at full blast, the city’s creaking power and water infrastructure is strained to the breaking point and beyond. Monsoon rains deluge the city from July to September, flooding roads on a regular basis and bringing traffic to a standstill. In winter, especially December and January, temperatures can dip to near-zero which can feel a lot colder because central heating is largely unknown and homes are usually designed with a view to keep cool in the summers rather than warm in the winters. In addition the city is blanketed in thick fog, causing numerous flight cancellations and train delays.

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