Happy Birthday Delhi

Preeti Panwar

From 1911 to 2011, Delhi has come a long way. If one turns the pages of history, then he/she will find that from the time of Mahabharata, Delhi has changed a lot. The wheel of progress has turned Delhi into a world-class hi-tech city. In 1911, Delhi was crowned the capital of India replacing Calcutta (now Kolkata).

Now, the city has a population of 1.68 crore as compared to 24 lakh a century ago. From Chandni Chowk’s Balli Maran’s Ghalib Ki Haveli to Lutyens’ designed broad and wide tree- lined avenues; Delhi is now a melting pot of varied cultures.

Old Delhi

Delhi has been ruled by various emperors and dynasties with each of them bestowing the city with grand forts and palaces. Old Delhi, the walled city, was founded as Shahjahanabad by the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan in 1639. Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque), the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, Daryaganj are the main highlights of Purani Dilli. Not many people know that the first wholesale market of Old Delhi was opened as a hardware market in Chawri Bazar in 1840!

The birth of New Delhi

After the collapse of Mughal Empire post 1857 revolt, the British rule shifted the capital of India from less volatile Calcutta to Delhi in 1911. The then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, wanted new and old Delhi to look the same but Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, the greatest British Architect, opposed his idea.

New Delhi is the brain child of Edwin Lutyens. He is also the man behind the national monument India Gate, which was built in 1931 and is situated in the heart of New Delhi, as well as the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan located at Raisina Hill. This is why New Delhi is also referred to as Lutyens’ Delhi as he gave the city a metropolitan look with his classic architectural skills. His predilection for Delhi is vivid from his choice of incorporation of traditional and local Indian culture - like the drum-mounted Buddhist dome of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as the Viceroy’s House).

Delhi - the dhadkan of India - is celebrating ten decades of its existence as the capital of India on December 12, 2011. It is indeed a moment of pride for all Delhiites, especially those who have been born and brought up in Delhi.

Staying in Delhi has its own charm, no matter in which part of the city one is staying. Sprawling and swanky malls, hotels, improved infrastructure, fantastic roads, flyovers have surely made Delhi a world class city.

Delhi’s transport

From rickshaws and auto rickshaws to buses and Metro, people’s way of travelling has undergone a sea change. Hats-off to the man behind the Delhi Metro - E Shreedharan, who changed the way Delhi travels. Metro is like a tiara on the head of Delhi which has further ornamented the already decked-up city. Also, the women-only exclusive coaches in Metro have given a secure and safe way to travel to women. Metro made its debut in 2002 in Delhi and after eight years of its existence, it has grown by leaps and bounds by connecting North with South and East with West. To add to its glory, it has also expanded its horizon to NCR as well.

Even the very own, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has got a makeover with low floor buses in green and maroon shades.

Delhi’s culture

Delhi has world heritage sites like Qutab Minar, Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Jantar Mantar, and Purana Quila. When it comes to awakening your spiritual side, Delhi is full of some spectacular temples which also exhibit its beautiful architecture, like Akshardham temple, Lotus temple, ISKON temple, Swami Lakshminarayan temple, Jhandewalan and Chattarpur temple.

Besides, Delhi being the capital of India is also host to various events like the India International Trade Fair, Auto Expo and World Book Fair - it all happens on the Delhi soil displaying the art and culture of India under one roof.

It’s a known fact that Delhiites are big foodie and our city leaves no stone unturned in satisfying the taste buds of its people. It has delicious options for all food lovers, from local spicy street food to high-end restaurants and hotels. Delhi’s cuisine displays the taste of large cosmopolitan and migrant population. From Indian (North Indian to South Indian) to international cuisine (Thai, Chinese, Continental, Western), most of the Dellhites are self-confessed foodies. The aroma of spices, the tangy flavour of chaat, varied sweets, kulfi are all so tempting and irresistible!

The other side

Unfortunately, there is a flip side of Delhi too. No matter how proud we are of being Delhiites, there are various issues where Delhi needs to change as soon as possible to maintain its prominence and glory. Like, on one side, we have a picturesque image of Delhi where films are being shot; on the contrary, it also has open drains, roads full of potholes, and sanitation menace in not so modern and rural parts of Delhi. Other major drawback for our city is women’s safety. Here, women are not at all safe even during daytime; crime is on the rise and people’s temper is very bad which they show on roads while driving. People are insensitive towards these very serious issues. Unfortunately, the youth of Delhi is getting more and more attracted to western culture, and more addicted to virtual world of social networking sites.

Let’s wish in the coming days, Delhi becomes the world’s best place to live in, most safe place for women, blessed with highly educated and focussed youth to become the true leaders of tomorrow.

However, Delhi’s original aura should remain intact…Amen…

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