Delhi, where a empire rose and fell before the dawn of
history; where citadels of emperors appeared and disappeared; a city of
mysterious eternity whose old ruins proclaim a majestic and imperial
past and whose present pulsates vibrantly with the ever flowing life of
India. The eternal Jamuna bears witness to the glorious and tumultuous
5,000 year old history of Delhi. A history which begins with the
creation of Indraprastha by the Pandavas and the transformation of this
barren gift of the Kauravas into an idyllic haven.
A history which encompasses all the various kings and emperors who fixed
their royal citadels here-- Indraprastha, Lal Kot, Quila Rai Pithora,
Siri, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad, Ferozabad, Dinpanah, Delhi Sher Shahi or
then Shahjahanabad. but, combined and integrated into one, these 'new
cities' have always been called Delhi and howsoever many names it may
have acquired, Delhi has always been intrinsically identified with power
and imperial sway. There have been at least eight cities around modern
Delhi, and the old saying that whoever founds a new city at Delhi will
lose it has come true every time -- most recently for the British who
founded New Delhi in 1911.
The historic Purana Qila, which has stood witness to Delhi's
rejuvenation, periods of anarchy, and the rise & fall of empires, brings
alive history of the capital. Amidst the tranquility of the splendidly
panoramic environs of Purana Qila, Delhi's historic and legendary past
come to life. After Shah Jahan built Red Fort the attention of
administration shifted to gorgeous palaces of the fort. Today the fort
is open for the public but only limited area can be accessed. More than
half of the fort area has been taken over by the Army. But even what is
open to visit reminds one of the splendour and lavish life style which
our rulers lived. Delhi has seen the death of many empires and resisted
bloody attempts to eliminate her. Nadir Shah had ordered his soldiers to
plunder and massacre Delhi. It is said that he got so much wealth from
Delhi that he was not able to carry in home. Abdali and Taimur Lane were
no different they had tried their best to demolish the city of Delhi but
it was some kind of a boon which helped it to regain its lost glory each
time Delhi was plundered.
Delhi was the focal point for the first war of independence in 1857.
Though the revolt did not reach its desired conclusion, Delhi became a
thorn in the eyes of the British. Not only in ancient times or the
mediaeval period, Delhi has been the center of any activity at all
times. As the Britishers shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi,
all the activities during the freedom struggle were directed towards
Delhi. Thus, Delhi also bears the marks of the freedom struggle. The
ultimate goal of the Azad Hind Fauz during the freedom struggle was to
capture Delhi and established Swaraj. The slogan 'Dilli Chalo' is still
used by leaders and political parties when they oraganise any rally or
demonstration. It was the hosting of the tricolour at Red Fort in Delhi
which marked a chapter in the history of India.
A Tale of Eight Cities
One of the oldest living cities in the world with Delhi's 20,000 ruins.
Delhi is history, and Delhi's monuments are tablets on which the history
is written. Every conqueror did his best to possess Delhi and make it
his capital. Delhi is not a single city but a combination of eight
cities that have been established here from as early as 900 BC to 1930
when the British completed the construction of New Delhi as the capital
of imperial India. It is, therefore not surprising that the monuments of
Delhi successfully mirror the development of the architectural styles in
The earliest references to Delhi are in Buddhist and Jain scriptures but
these sources cannot be precisely dated. In the great Indian epic
Mahabharat composed around 900 BC, there is mention of the Indraprastha,
a city founded by the Pandavas on the banks of the river Yamuna. The
next mention of the city is during the rule of Raja Anangpal who build
his fort in the Qutab area. In the 11th century AD, Raja Anangpal of
Kanauj a Tomar king established Lal Kot as his capital city in the
vicinity of the Qutab Minar. This was the first city of Delhi. Anangpal
successors ruled from this fort for almost a century until Visal Deva, a
Chauhan Rajput raja from Ajmer conquered Delhi.
Towards the end of the 12th century Mohammed Ghori invaded from
Afghanistan, defeated Prithvi Raj, Visal Deva's grandson, and occupied
Delhi. He however, returned to Afghanistan soon after leaving his new
kingdom in the trusted hands of Alla-ud-din Khilji. The Lal Kot
continued to be the capital till 1303 when Khilji defeated the invading
Rajputs at Siri and constructed Delhi's second city in the area.
During the Tughlak rule (1320-1412) the third and fourth cities of Delhi
were founded. Ghyas-ud-din Tughlak founded Tughlakabad which took four
years to build but was deserted soon after due to a scarcity of water.
Sultan Mohammad-bin-Tughlak constructed Delhi's fourth city called
Jahanpanah close to the Qutab Minar to protect his people living in the
open plains from attack by invaders.
Founded by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) Delhi's fifth city was named
Ferozabad and was located in the vicinity of the present Feroz Shah
Constructed in an area said to be the ancient city of Indraprastha,
Purana Quila was erected by the Mughal Emperor Humayun between 1533-34
and was forced to flee from Purana Quila by in the invading Afghan
warrior Sher Shah Suri (1530 -39). Sher Shah Suri built a beautiful hall
and mosque in the fort and ruled from her till 1555 when Humayun
returned to power and recaptured the fort.
Shahjahanabad or old Delhi as it is now called was build by Emperor Shah
Jahan as Delhi's seventh city between 1638 and 1649. This city comprises
of the famous Red Fort, Jama Masjid and contains many fine examples of
Delhi eighth city now known as New Delhi was formally inaugurated in
1931. Following the British decision to shift the capital of imperial
India from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, two British architects, Sir Edwin
Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker were commissioned by design a city in
keeping with the grandeur of India. This new city is today the capital
of modern India.
Geography of Delhi
Area : 1,483 sq .km
Capital : Delhi
Population : 1,37,82,976
Male : 75,70,890
Female : 62,12,086
Literacy : 81.82%
Delhi's altitude ranges between 213 to 305 metres above the sea level
The national capital territory of Delhi with an area of 1483sq.km is
situated between the Himalayas and Aravalis range in the heart of the
Language Main languages spoken in Delhi are :
Hindi, English & numerous others
Hindi - The Origin of 7th -8th Century
Hindi can be traced back to as early as the seventh or eighth century.
The dialect that has been chosen as the official language is Khariboli
in the Devnagari script. Other dialects of Hindi are Brajbhasa, Bundeli,
Awadhi, Marwari, Maithili and Bhojpuri.
It was in the 10th century that authentic Hindi poetry took its form and
since then it has been constantly modified.
Sub-Division of Hindi Literature
Hindi literature as a whole can be divided into four stages: Adikal (the
Early Period), Bhaktikal (the Devotional Period), Ritikal (the
Scholastic Period) and Adhunikkal (the Modern Period).
Adikal - The Early Period
Adikal starts from the middle of the 10th century to the beginning of
the 14th century. The poetry of this period has been divided into three
categories Apabhramsha Poetry, Heroic Poetry and Miscellaneous Poetry.
Apabhramsha Poetry includes the Siddha literature (750-1200), the Nath
literature and the Jain literature. Siddha literature was written in the
popular language and this echoed devotional themes combined with a
strong erotic feeling.
Between the 7th and the 14th century, the poet Gorakhnath and his
followers mainly composed the Nath literature. They avoided eroticism,
scorned racial discrimination and put stress on moral values, using the
Doha (couplet) and the Chaupai (quartet) styles in their poems. These
compositions had a great influence on the Sant (devotional literature
made popular by Rahim and Kabir et al) literature.
During this period Jain poets like Swayambhu, Som Datt Suri, Sharang
Dhar and Nalla Singh composed the Charit Kavyas, which propagate moral
tenets and portrayals of Nature. Heroic Poetry was composed wholly in
the native speech.
The Early Period was the age of invasions and turmoils which greatly
influenced poets who composed actual as well as imaginary accounts of
the heroism of their patrons. Poems were usually written for the
pleasures of kings, who were anyways quite accustomed to praise.
Prithviraj Raso (Chand Bardai), Khuman Raso (Dalpativijay), Bisaldev Rao
(Narpati Nalha) and Parmal Raso (Jagnik) are the major works of this
age, and are lively renditions of battles and their outcomes.
Bhakti Kal or The Devotional Period
Bhakti Kal or the Devotional Period stretched between the 14th and the
17th century. During this age Islamic customs were heaped upon the
common people, and the Hindus were quite dejected at the effect on their
The poets of this period felt that it was their moral duty to arouse a
sense of devotion through religious poetry.
These poets have been divided into two groups: Nirguna and Saguna poets,
depending upon the devotional attitude towards the Lord.
Nirgunas have been further divided into two groups on the basis of the
different sadhanas (disciplines) followed by them.
Those that put emphasis on the importance of knowledge for the
realization of God were called the Saint poets. Kabir Das, Guru Nanak,
Dharma Das, Maluk Das, Dadudayal, Sunder Das belong to this genre. In
their Sakhis (couplets) and Padas (songs) they condemned rituals and
laid emphasis on the theory of Monotheism (the belief that there is one
Ritikal or The Scholastic Period
The poets of Ritikal or the Scholastic period can be classified into two
groups on the basis of their subject: Ritibaddha (those wedded to
rhetorics) and Ritimukta (free from rhetorical conventions).
The former poets composed on definitional and (Lakshana) and
illustrative (Lakshya) themes. The essential nature of Rasa, Alankara,
Nayikabheda were illustrated by them through Saviyas and Kavithas. Poets
like Chintamani, Keshav, Mati Ram, Deva, Kulpati Misra, and Bhikari Das
were leaders of this style. The second group consists of free-minded
poets like Alam, Ghananand, Bodha and Thakur.
They wrote in a spontaneous manner with powerful feelings of Love, quite
apart from rhetorical poetry. This age saw two more poetic trends.
Didactic poetry in stray verses composed by Vrinda, Vaital and Giridhar
and Heroic Poetry by Bhushan, Sudan, Lal and various others.
Modern Hindi Literature
Modern Hindi literature has been divided into four phases; the age of
Bharatendu or the Renaissance (1868-1893), Dwivedi Yug (1893-1918),
Chhayavada Yug (1918-1937) and the Contemporary Period (1937 onwards).
Bharatendu Harishchandra (1849-1882) brought in a modern outlook in
Hindi literature and is thus called the ‘Father of Modern Hindi
Literature’. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi later took up this vision. Dwivedi
was a reformist by nature and he brought in a refined style of writing
in Hindi poetry, which later acquired a deeper moral tone.
This was the age of revival when the glory and grandeur of ancient
Indian culture was fully adopted to enrich modern life. Social,
political and economic problems were portrayed in poetry while songs
were of social awakening.
This trend helped in the emergence of National Cultural Poetry whose
leading poets were Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Balkrishna Shama ‘Navin’,
Siyaram Gupta and ‘Dinkar’. These poets put more stress on moral aspect
of life rather than on love or beauty, which later evolved in the
Chhayavada style of poetry.
Kamayani is the zenith of this school and Chhayavada was best
represented by Prasad, Nirala, Pant and Mahadevi. After the decline of
this movement in came the leftist ideology which found voice in two
opposite styles of Hindi poetry.
One was Progressivism and Prayogavada or later called Nai Kavita. The
former was an effort of translating Marx’s philosophy of Social realism
The most notable figure of this movement was Sumitranandan Pant. The
latter safeguarded artistic freedom and brought in new poetic content
and talent to reflect modern insight.
The pioneers of this trend were Aggeya, Girija Kumar, Mathur and
Dharamvir Bharati. A third style called Personal Lyrics also appeared,
aiming at free and spontaneous human expressions with Harivansh Rai
Bachchan as the leader of this trend. The history of Hindi poetry, thus,
extends over a period of almost one thousand years.
The Rise and Growth of Khari Boli
The proper development of Hindi prose followed the rise and growth of
Khari Boli (colloquial dialect). Pre-Bharatendu writers like Ram Prasad
Niranjani, Sadasukh Lal, Insha Allah Khan and Sadal Misra composed
proses mainly based on mythological stories.
Insha Allah Khan used the typical Khari Boli while others were more
influenced by Sanskrit and Braj Bhasha.
The development of Hindi prose has been classified into three periods:
The first phase (1868-1918), the period of growth (1918-1937) and the
present age of excellence (1938 onwards). Prose literature of Bharatendu
and Dwivedi era covers the first phase. The writers of this age
developed drama, novel, short story, essay and literary criticism.
Popular dramatic compositions were done mainly by Bharatendu
Harishchandra, Bal Krishna Bhatt, and Radha Krishna Das. They inclined
more towards satires on contemporary conditions, social and patriotic
plays. Translations of Bengali, English and Hindi were also taken up
during this period.
Eminent prosateurs of this age included Devaki Nandan Khatri (novelist),
Chandradhar Sharma (short-story writer), Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi
(essayist) and Padma Singh Sharma (critic). The real development of
prose had its foundation in the first phase itself.
The period of growth is represented by Jayshankar Prasad, Rai Krishna
Das and Mahadevi Varma. Drama acquired a distinct place for itself in
this period but the theatre did not respond to it. Again, fiction
attained new proportions with Premchand as its most outstanding
The period of excellence came more whole-heartedly after the
Independence of India in 1947. Drama of this period laid emphasis on
realistic expressions and two new forms evolved like Poetic Drama and
Radio Play. Now the theatre was also interested in enacting these plays.
‘Ashka’ Jagdish Chandra Mathur, Mohan Rakesh and Lakshminarayan Lal have
acquired distinction amongst modern playwrights.
Fiction made a wonderful progress during this period. Realism,
psycho-analytical techniques and prose-style was the main ingredient of
the plot structure. Modern fiction found its mentors in Yash Pal, Agyeya
Essay and literary criticism also developed a lot. Essayists like Hazari
Prasad Dwivedi, Mahadevi Varma and Siyaram Sharan Gupta found new ways
of expressing themselves through reminiscences, reportage and sketch.
The history of Hindi prose is not expansive, as it had started out quite
late. However, it has progressed at a rapid pace.
How to Reach Delhi
Travel within Delhi:
You'll find a range of transport options within Delhi, from
luxurious air-conditioned cars to the humble cycle rickshaw.
Tourist taxis ply interstate while the yellow and black taxis can be
used to commute anywhere within the city and are relatively expensive
but safe. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses go anywhere in the
city and are the cheapest mode of transport. Auto rickshaws are another
option, but remember to bargain for a reasonable fare. Luxurious special
tourist buses can be arranged for traveling singly or alone. The
recently introduced Metro underground railway line can be enjoyed as a
The summer months are not the ideal time to visit Delhi. It is hot, very
dry and dusty. You can even get sunstroke unless you take precautions.
Wear light cotton clothing. Try to keep your head covered. Cover your
head and take your shoes off in places of worship. Stay away from
beggars and touts. Female travelers are quite safe but the hazards of
being a woman alone exist.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Delhi is from August to March. Winters in Delhi
are sunny and pleasant in the day, ideal weather for sightseeing.
Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is connected to
all the important cities of the world, by major international airlines.
Palam Domestic airport connects Delhi to the major cities in India.
Rail: Delhi is connected to many Indian cities and towns by
super-fast and express trains. The city's 3 main railway stations are
New Delhi, Old Delhi and Nizamuddin. Luxury trains such as the
Palace-on-Wheels, Fairy Queen and Royal Orient Express begin their tour
from Delhi Cantonment railway station.
Road: Delhi is well connected to all the major cities of India by
a network of highways and roads. There are three Inter State Bus
Terminuses (ISBT), at Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar, as
well as many starting points in and around the city, from which various
state-managed and privately run transport facilities, operate.
Railway Assistance : International Tourist Bureau
(for Train Reservation & Indrail Passes)
1st floor, New Delhi Railway Station Paharganj side
Timing : 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
International & Domestic air Ticketing :
N-36, Bombay Life Building,
Middle Circle, C.P., New Delhi - 110001
Timing : 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
For Extension of Visa :
The foreigner's Regional Registration Office (F.R.R.O.)
Hans Bhawan, Tilak Bridge, New Delhi
Timing : 9.30 am to 1.30 pm; 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm
Permits for Restricted Areas :
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Lok Nayak Bhawan, opp. Khan Market, New Delhi
(Monday to Friday Timing : 10 am to 5 pm)
Money Exchange :(Beyond Bank Hours)
State Bank of India, I. G. I. Airport, 24 hours
Central Bank of India, Ashok Hotel, 24 hours
Delhi Tourism, N-36 Bombay Life Building, Middle Circle, C.P. New
Delhi - 110001 (Monday to Saturday) Timings : 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
Prepaid Taxi/Auto : Prepaid Taxi & Auto available from airport (Domestic & International),
all Railway Stations and Bus terminals & other important places (Beware