For any Indian history connoisseur, Delhi enjoys a special place as a purveyor of great social, historical and cultural heritage. Delhi as a great historic place, established during 736 AD, witnessed events of immense importance. In the annals of Indian history, Delhi became the capital of numerous dynasties such as the Tomars-Chauhans, Khilji, Tughlaqs, Sayyids, Lodhis, Mughals, and the British finally witnessing the independent India.
Delhi was founded by Tomar Anangapala. In Indian popular culture, Delhi was known as Indraprastha – the capital of Pandavas in the great Indian epic Mahabharata of 2500 BC. In Sanskrit, Delhi was often referred to as Hastinapur.
During the Middle Ages, Delhi saw many rulers till it became the capital of Slave Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate under its first slave king Qutb-ud-din-Aibak in 1206 AD. Post Slave dynasty, Delhi saw a succession of numerous dynasties such as the Khiljis, the Tughluq, the Sayyid and the Lodhi Empire. It was Timur’s invasion during 1398 that led to the initiation of Mughal dynasty with Babar as its first king. Post Babar, some of the notable Mughal rulers of India were Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb. After Aurangzeb, Delhi was ruled by a quick succession of weak rulers the last one being Bahadur Shah Zafar.
If during the Mughal era Delhi enjoyed the princely status of imperial capital of artistic and literary fashion, under the East India Company, it became a mere pawn of the British Raj as a district of Punjab. It was during 1911 when the British Raj declared Delhi as the capital of India and a team of British architects under Edwin Lutyens designed it as a new political and administrative capital. It was after the Independence of India in 1947 that Delhi became the capital of the Republic of India. Delhi had the misfortune of witnessing the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi – the father of the nation on Jan 30 1948 by Nathuram Godse.
However, independence brought the painful event of partition of the subcontinent in India into India and Pakistan. During partition, thousands of Muslims migrated to Pakistan whereas umpteen Hindus and Sikhs from Sindh and West Punjab came to Delhi in the course of mass riots and carnage on both the sides. Similar memories were revived when Delhi saw the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Ever since the Mughal Sultante, Delhi has been the hub of political, cultural and commercial affairs that permeates the city fabric even today. Demographically speaking, Delhi never had a single culture as it carried a shared socio-cultural and historical past. Delhi has an expatriate culture where huge number of refugees came from West Punjab and Sindh during the partition.
• Area: 1,483 square kilometer
• Population: 13,850,507 (Males: 7,607,234; Females: 6,243,273) – as per 2001 census
• Urban population: 93.01%
• Population density: 9,340
• Sex ratio: 821
Located on the banks of Yamuna River, Delhi shares its borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Delhi has large communities of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Christians in addition to linguistic groups from Bengal, Bhojpuri, Tamils, Telugu, Kannada, Punjabis, Marathi, Gujjars, Assamese and Jats.
Given the cosmopolitan nature of Delhi, it is the home of numerous festivities such as Holi, Diwali, Dushehra, Id, Guru Nanak birthday and Christmas. Indeed, Delhi is the heart of India where various culture and traditions coexist in harmony. Delhi enjoys a multicultural society that comes from all walks of life, right from country to big cities, leading to a pan-Indian society.
Some of the additional festivals of Delhi include: Roshnara festival, Qutab festival, Shalimar festival, Winter carnival, Mango festival, Garden tourism, international industrial exhibitions, defense exhibitions and automobile exhibitions.
Given the strong cultural past, Delhi has numerous historical monuments and famous tourist destinations such as: Purana Quila, Tughlaqabad Fort, Qutab Minar, Lal Quila, Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid, Lodi Gardens, India Gate, Jantar Mantar, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Raj Ghat, Sansad Bhavan, Birla Mandir, Bahai Mandir, National Museum, Craft Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, National Museum of Modern Art, Dilli Haat and States Emporia to name a few marvels of Delhi.
The economy of Delhi constitutes both agricultural and industrial sector. In the agricultural sector, the agricultural produce of Delhi includes wheat, jowar, bajra, maize and gram. In addition, Delhi has thriving fruit crops, dairy and poultry farming and floriculture. The industrial economy of Delhi includes light engineering machines, automobile parts, electronics, bicycles, sport goods, PVC goods, leather, hosiery, fertilizers and software.
Delhi enjoys a well connected transport and communication systems with inter state terminuses, railway stations, airport (Indira Gandhi International Airport) and Delhi Metro.
With the 69th amendment of the Constitution Act, 1991, Delhi became a National Capital Territory (NCT) with its own legislative assembly. Delhi is the second largest city and the capital of India.
As the NCT, Delhi comprises 27 tehsils, 9 districts, 62 census towns, 165 villages and 3 statutory towns as New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB). As the NCT, Delhi has its own Lieutenant Governor, Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister and Council of Ministers. The Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Supreme Court of India, Parliament House, Election Commission, Reserve Bank of India, Union Public Service Commission various other Central ministries and other government offices are located in New Delhi. In Delhi, there are 70 Legislature Unicameral Seats in addition to 7 Lok Sabha and 3 Rajya Sabha Seats. Smt. Sheila Dikshit is the Chief Minister of Delhi and Smt. Arti Mehra is the Mayor of MCD.
Ever since the Independence of India, the Indian National Congress (INC) enjoys a political stronghold over Delhi as a powerful political party. Of late, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been a strong competitor of Congress State politics. Once again, with forthcoming Assembly elections on Nov 29, 2008, Delhi is going to witness a fierce battle over change of guard. Given the fact that Delhi is the heart of capital, it is also the nucleus of Indian politics.
With the coming of Delhi Assembly elections, once again Delhi is going to watch the making of a new government - an act of ‘political power’ it has been mutely witnessing observing throughout the past.