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History

The Indian capital city of Delhi has a long history, including a history as the capital of several empires. The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya Period (c. 300 BC); since then, the site has seen continuous settlement. In 1966, an inscription of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273-236 BC) was discovered near Srinivaspur. Two sandstone pillars inscribed with the edicts of Ashoka were brought to by Firuz Shah Tughluq in the 14th century. The famous Iron pillar near the Qutub Minar was commissioned by the emperor Kumara Gupta I of the Gupta dynasty (320-540) and transplanted to Delhi during the 10th century. Eight major cities have been situated in the Delhi area. The first five cities were in the southern part of present-day Delhi.

Though settlements have been dated to have been taking place in Delhi for millennia, there is no record to stand by that claim. Delhi is generally considered a close to 5000-year old city, as per Ancient Indian text The Mahabharata, since the first ever mention of the city is found in this religious scripture. Therefore, except the scripture, archaeological evidences to book the city's Ancient history are as good as nought. As a result, Delhi's Ancient history finds no records and this period may be regarded as the lost period of its history. Extensive coverage of Delhi's history begins with the onset of the Delhi Sultanate in the 12th century. Since then, Delhi had been the seat of Islamic and British rulers until India's independence in 1947.

The core of Delhi's tangible heritage is Islamic, spanning over 7 centuries of Islamic rule over the city, with some British-styled architectures and zones in Lutyens' Delhi dating to the British rule in India. Whatever records exist of Delhi- in the form of scriptures or archaeological evidences, they crown Delhi as the Capital city of some empire or the other all through, with minor random breaks in between, making Delhi one of the longest serving Capitals and one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is considered to be a city built, destroyed and rebuilt several times, as outsiders who successfully invaded the Indian Subcontinent would ransack the existing capital city in Delhi, and those who came to conquer and stay would be so impressed by the city's strategic location as to make it their capital and rebuild it in their own way.

Delhi, officially National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest metropolis by population in India.It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with more than 12.25 million inhabitants in the territory. There are nearly 22.2 million residents in the greater National Capital Region urban area (which also includes Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad along with other smaller nearby towns).

The name Delhi is often also used to include urban areas near the NCT, as well as to refer to New Delhi, the capital of India, which lies within the metropolis. Although technically a federally administered union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India with its own legislature, high court and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister. New Delhi, jointly administered by both the federal Government of India and the local Government of Delhi, is also the capital of the NCT of Delhi.

Located on the banks of the River Yamuna, Delhi has been known to be continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BCE,[8] though human habitation is believed to have existed since the second millennium BCE.Delhi is also widely believed to have been the site of Indraprastha, the legendary capital of the Pandavas during the times of the Mahabharata.[10] Delhi re-emerged as a major political, cultural and commercial city along the trade routes between northwest India and the Gangetic plain after the rise of the Delhi sultanates.It is the site of many ancient and medieval monuments, archaeological sites and remains. In 1639, Mughal emperor Shahjahan built a new walled city in Delhi which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1649 to 1857.

After the British East India Company had gained control of much of India during the 18th and 19th centuries, Calcutta became the capital both under Company rule and under the British Raj, until George V announced in 1911 that it was to move back to Delhi. A new capital city, New Delhi, was built to the south of the old city during the 1920s.When India gained independence from British rule in 1947, New Delhi was declared its capital and seat of government. As such, New Delhi houses important offices of the federal government, including the Parliament of India, as well as numerous national museums, monuments, and art galleries.

Owing to the migration of people from across the country, Delhi has grown to be a multicultural, cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Delhi into a major cultural, political, and commercial centre of India.

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