Amazing Facts About Delhi

Delhi is not a city with historical relevance but in a way, Delhi is history in itself. The oceans of historical information that this city has wrapped in its arms makes it a prime case of study for the scholars of history. Delhi history is all about the beautiful monuments in this city, the forlorn ruins, domes of the medieval age, grand mansions, royal mausoleums, quaint bazaars, bridges and inns which mark the city with not only their beauty but also the imprint of they age they belong to. It won`t be wrong at all to say that history resides in the heart of this city.

Apart from the architectural heritage of Delhi we also provide you with the amazing facts of Delhi which can pertain to a big range of time. We impart the knowledge about the city that many people are unaware of. Our section of Delhi history makes people knowledgeable about every little detail which either they are unaware of or they have overlooked. We provide detailed accounts regarding the monuments here which not only tell everything about these monuments but also work as a source of general knowledge for the people. People have shown a great interest towards learning about amazing facts about Delhi through us.

Delhi is a curiously powerful word: exploring medieval Delhi is like looking at sepia-tinted shots that historians use to interpret vintage antiquity. With its magnificent monuments. medieval domes, forlorn ruins, grand havelis (mansions). quaint bazaars, royal mausoleums, wayside sarais (rest houses) and connecting bridges-history lives in Delhi’s heart and soul.

Situated on a rich alluvial plain with a naturally protected setting, Delhi has been the capital of the heroes of the Mahabharata, and the invading hordes of the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans and Mughals. It has witnessed the rule of the spirited Tomar Rajputs and the indomitable Chauhans who established Delhi’s first city, Lal Kot and Quila Rai Pithora, in response to the attacks from the north-west by the Turkish warlord, Muhammad Ghori.

When the Turks rules Delhi, it became an urban centre. Towering the entire length and breath of the Mehrauli landscape is the lofty Qutab Minar-a tower rising from a robust base upwards with a pyramidal, primordial restless thrust crowned by a cupola. Qutbuddin Aibak was the founder of the Delhi Sultanate. By was naming the tower Qutab (axis) of the faith) Minar, he honoured himself and stressed the Minar’s symbolic role as an axis of Islamic domination. There is another Qutbuddin at Mehrauli-the shrine of the Persian saint, Khawaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, where large pankhas (fans) made of flowers are ceremonially presented every October as part of Phoolwalon ki Sair.

Within the qutab complex is one of the earliest examples of congregation mosques in India-Quwwat-ul-Islam (might of Islam)-which marks the early experimental stage in the building of Friday Mosques. The Qutab Minar was appended to this mosque and thus its role was as much symbolic as functional.
Legend has it that the mosque’s architectural remains were extracted from twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples, the colonnade carvings of which were disfigured. The stone screens in the west with their ruined arches enhance the stylised and studied geometrical and arabesque designs. The rustproof Iron Pillar with its amalaka capital (Shaped like the fruit of amla or gooseberry) and the Sanskrit inscription in the Nagari script is a living testimony of the Indian metallurgical skills in these ‘rusted’ times.

Tucked away in one corner is a virtual treasure-Iltutmish’s red sandstone tomb-one of the finest specimens of Hindu art applied for Mohammedan purposes.
Art symbolises the hopes and fears of a passing order – its perceptions, sensations, palpitations and aspirations. It takes us directly into the realm of feeling, which the written words cannot. Siri, a living example of this and Delhi’s second city lies forever buried under the Asiad village- the palace occupied the site of the present Siri Fort and remnants of its rubble can be adventurously traced at Khelgaon Marg and Panchsheel Marg. According to folklore, when Alauding Khalji was constructing his new fortified city, Siri, there was Mongol raid upon Delhi which was suppressed: the heads of 8,000 Mongols were built into the fort walls-hence its rather macabre and demonic name Siri originated from the Hindi word meaning ‘head’ A similar legend is attached to the Chor Minar, located in Hauz Khas Enclave – a small tower built with circular holes on the outside, used for displaying the heads of punished chors (thieves).

Siri’s water source at Hauz Khas (Royal Tank) was for the Emperor’s private use. The tank was filled with rainwater during the monssons and when the banks dried up during the parched, unrelenting summers, cucumbers, green melons, pumpkins and sugarcane were grown, as vividly described by Ferishta.
To celebrate his victory over the Deccan, Alauddin began the construction of the Alai Minar that was supposed to be twice as high as the Qutab Minar, but Fate willed otherwise. His ‘focus on the monument that remained symbolically paramount’ did not see its ultimate completion. He added the gateway, Alai Darwaza, to the Quwwat-ul-Islam.

The greatest contribution of the Slave, khalji and Tughlaq dynasties was to save India from the Mongol onslaught, which had devastated Persia. Straight down the road from Qutab, heading towards Badarpur is Tughlaqabad-Ghiyasuddin’s echo to Mongol attacks. Tughalaqabad with its fortified and sloping walls, its strategic position on the rocky hills of south Delhi and an array of ruins comprising a citadel fortress with a maze of houses, mosques, streets and business sectors laid out in a gridiron pattern was the site of Delhi’s third city.

Muhammad Tughlaq built a palace fortress, Adilablae (Home of Justice), in a faraway corner of the city in addition to Jahanpanah (Refuge of the World) to protect Delhi by enclosing Lal Kot, Siri and Tughlaqabad and to from a new city or a ‘Safe Haven of the World’. He fortified Lal Kot and Siri by a city wall, but ran out fo money before he could attempt to fortify Tughlaqabad.

Bijay Mandal, the palace of Muhammad Tughlaq near Khirki, with a Diwan-i-khas and Diwan-i-Am was Delhi’s fourth city. The site had a strange rugged grandeur complemented by the Begumpuri Masjid – the Jama Masjid of Jahanpanah in Begumpur Village.

Tughlaqabad was abandoned in 1327 because of water shortage. Since Jahanpahan, as an encircling wall, failed to incorporate all the previous cities of Delhi within its fold – it was time to build yet another Delhi. Kotla Firoz Shah (palace of Firoz Shah) was the citadel of Firozabad, the fifth city of Delhi and the first of the river-based Delhi built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1354. Twelve miles in diameter, the city included the entire site of Shahjahanabad.
A royal archaeologist, Firoz restored the Hauz-i-Alai. built a madrasa (college of religious educaion), his own tomb on the edge of Hauz Khas and Shi Kargahs (hunting lodges). After his death in 1388, Delhi fell on hard times. Timur, the great Central Asian ruler, invaded north India in 1398; plundered, sacked and burnt Siri, Jahanpanah and Firozabad.

The Afghans came next-sayyids, Lodis and the Surs-sandwiched precariously between the great Delhi Sultans and the even greater Mughals. Delhi now shrank to the confines of the city and a few meager villages around. Their tombs dotting Delhi’s outlying areas of those times converted it into a necropolis-Lodi Road, Safdarjung Road, Jor Bagh, Kotla Mubarakpur, South Extension, R.K. Puram, Malviya Nagar were part of this ‘Valley of the Dead’.
The Lodi Gardens house the tomb of Muhammad Shah, a Sayyid, and three Lodi tombs of which only Sikandar Lodi’s is identifiable. Muhammad Shah’s tomb is octagonal in contrast to the square ones of the Khaljis and Tughlaqs. Sikandar Lodi’s tomb is a greystone structure which was originally coated with a thin layer of plaster and set in a large square garden enclosed with high walls – an embryonic concept used with great finesse by the Muhals Giving rise to the Resultant Charbagh (walled-in garden with a square plan). Other Lodi tombs include the Bara Gumbad (big dome), so called because it is the first full dome in Delhi, forming a complete hemisphere; the Sheesh Gumbad (glazed dome), so called because of the profuse blue-tiles friezes on its exterior and the tomb of Imam Zamin in the Qutab complex.

Dinpanah (Refuge of the Faithful) was Delhi’s sixth city founded by Humayun and the citadel which stands there today, was built on the site of one of the most ancient cities of Delhi – Indraprashtha or Indraprath. All that remains today of Humayun’s Dinpanah are the high walls and the imposing gateways of the citadel now known as Purana Qila (Old Fort).

Having defeated Humayun, Sher Shah constructed a new city called Shergah (Sher’s Palace). Sher Shah’s palace fortress, known later as Purana Qila, contained the Masjid Qila-i-Kuhna and Sher Mandal Which he used as a pleasure resort and which was later used by Humayun as his library and observatory. Humayun’s recapture of Shergah encouraged him to put his ideas on astrology into practice by designing a wonderful astrological palace.

The Nizamuddin area-named after the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia-includes the tomb of Mirza Ghalib bearing his own epitaph: Fakr Kar Dilli Ki Ghalib Isme Dafan Hai (Proud be Delhi that Ghalib lies buried here), and that of Jahanara who was Shahjahan’s daughter and Padshah Begum (Chief Queen) of his court.

The tomb of Akbar’s regent son, Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, who died in 1626, must have been a splendid monument, but was stripped of its marble and sandstone to embellish Safdarjung’s tomb. An amazingly spectacular monument is Humayun’s tomb – a red sandstone and marble octagonal structure which requires and absolute ‘dekko’ as a prelude to the Taj Mahal.

Shah Nawaz khan in the Maasir-al-Umara, an 18th-century biographical work, wrote, ‘The exalted Sultans always had it in mind to cause the world to remember them by a permanent monument’. This monument was the imperial palace fortress-Quila Mubarak (Auspicious Fort) in Lal Qila (Red Fort). Sprwled along the banks of the river Jamuna-Shahjahanabad (Abode of Shahjahan) – the seventh city of Delhi, remained the Mughal capital from 1648 to 1739. Though built and rebuilt several times over, it still survives today and is called Purani Dilli (Old Delhi). Originally called Urdu-i-Mualla (an exalted camp), it was a tent in red sandstone, enclosing an area of 124 acres.

The Red Fort was open to the Jamuna on the eastern side. It was here on the terrace that the most beautiful buildings of the palace were situated. Although the palace suffered ravage, ‘the remaining portion of the Red Fort look like precious stones torn from their settings in some exquisite piece of oriental jeweller’s work and set at random in a bed of commonest plaster’. These jewels include the Chatta Chowk (vaulted arcade), the Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Special Audience), the Khas Mahal (Emperor’s private chambers), Mumtaz and Rang Mahal (zenana or female quarters) and finally, the Hammam (royal baths). Amir Khusor’s famous couplet still lights up the Diwan-i-Khas:

Agar firdaus bar rue e zamin ast,
Hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.

(If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here,)

Shahjahanabad’s two wide strets, intersecting at right angles, were the Faiz Bazaar (bazaar of Plenty). Originally known as Azizunissa (Akbarabadi) Bazaar running southrwards from the Fort, and Chandni Chowk, which extended from the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort to the Fatepuri Mosque.

Chandni Chowk was an octagonal chowk (open space) outside the Begum Bagh and contained a central pool which reflected the chandni (moonlingh), with the canal flowing through the centre of the bazaar. It was the biggest commercial centre of the East – a labyrinth of galis (lanes), sadaks (roads), kuchas (streets), katras (fort markets), chattas (covered areas where artisans specializing in a particular craft workd), mohallas (localities), havelis and bazaars. Variations in the size of the kuchas, galis or katras, which were named after a specialized product sold or manufactured there or a person or landmark, provide an interesting glimpse of those times.

Chaat is closely identified with Delhi and its popularity is not merely gastronomical but historical. During Shahjahan’s time, Ali Mardan Khan repaired and extended an old, ruined canal that flowed through the middle of Chandni Chowk. With the declining Mughal fortunes, the canal fell into disuse and was subsequently renovated by Sa’adat Khan a quarter of a century later. But the Emperor’s physician, Hakim Alvi, requested that the canal be closed down, as it would be a source of major stomach disorders for Delhities. Alternatively he suggested the use of a lot of spices in the food. Thus began the Dilliwalas’ penchant for chaat with its varied spices. In fact, the best chaat shops in Delhi are still located in the walled city.

Such was Shahjahanabad. The Mughal Empire was invaded for the first time in 1739 by Nadir Shah, who attacked only to loot, ravage, plunder and desiccate all that was visibly vibrant. Delhi was ravaged successively by the Marathas. Afghans and the Jats. The tragedy of the distraught urban culture, diffused through the dilapidation, demoralization, devastation, decay of Delhi, gave rise to a spirit of nostalgia, cherished remembered truths and a stoic will to survive.
The blaze of colour, the flow of water, the bloom of flowers, the sparkle of jewels, the rustle of silk, the hue of finesse, the graciousness of the genteel, the halo of perfection, the aura of historicity have been lost but Shahjahanabad is still very much alive- vandalized, overridden, undermined, but throbbing!
Delhi is a city so ethereal and seductive that when it is savoured, one may easily forget that it is a work of human labour.

Dilli Jo Ek Shahar Tha / Alam Mein Intakhab (Delhi-the City Select – Unparalleled, Unequalled, Distinctive – the only one of its kind in the world)!