Delhi’s Historical Charm

“If the world is the body, Delhi is the soul”.

The words of the legendary Urdu poet Mirza Galib convey a deep aesthetic meaning to the city of Delhi. Galib loves Delhi completely. For him Delhi is the soul of the world, noble with timeless values. Symbol of life energy.

Why is Delhi so special as a city? Glorified, praised even adored.

Delhi is the second largest metropolis in India after Mumbai. Long before modern life Delhi developed into a city with advanced civilization. Delhi has a strong historical background. Inspires life, love, hope, luxury and splendor. Not many places in the world offers so much artistic experience and historical charm like Delhi.

Delhi is the epitome of Indian history. Its existence is a witness to India’s past and present life journey. A great empire with a glorious peak of glory once reigned in Delhi. The relic implies a symbol of glory in the past.

As an ancient city with hundreds of years of existence, Delhi is also narrated in the Epic Mahabharata. Delhi is referred to as Indraprastha, which is the capital of the Pandavas or the capital of the Kuru Kingdom. The Kuru Kingdom or Uttara Kuru is located in the north of the Himalayas lying between the Ganges and Saraswati rivers. Indraprastha is known as the ‘City of God Indra’. Indraprastha references are also written in Buddhist texts called the Kuru Mahajanapada city.

In the epic Mahabharata Delhi or Indraprastha is a residential area that developed into a city. According to legend Yudhishtira the Pandava prince cleared the forest known as Khandavavan and built the city of Indraprastha in Delhi. The city was formidable and so majestic. It is said that King Dhratarshta of Hastinapura had tracts around Delhi. Delhi is called Dilli or Dhilli. It is said that King Dhilu who ruled Delhi in the 1st century BC is the person who named the city of Delhi.

Reference mentions that the City of Delhi began to be inhabited in the 6 AD. Delhi was formed from a combination of seven cities namely Siri, Shergarh, Tughlakabad, Jahanapanah, Ferozabad, Dinpanah and Shahajanabad. As a city that continues to grow Delhi is transformed fifteen times. Its unique character signifies that Delhi is developing towards a developed city.

Delhi is situated on the West bank of the Yamuna River about 160 km South of the Himalayas. Historically Delhi which is located on the west bank of the Yamuna River, follows the tradition in the region which believes the city should be on the right bank of the river while the left bank should be left naturally. Delhi lies within the triangle formed by the Yamuna river to the east and the Delhi Ridge of the Aravali range to the west and south.

Delhi has significance for India as it was once the capital of more than seven kingdoms. The center of succession of the great empires of India. Among the great dynasties was the Delhi Sultanate. Qutub-ud-Din Aibak (1206-1210) was the first and largest Muslim empire in northern India. From Qutub-ud-Din Aibak power passed to the Khilji Dynasty and the Tughluq Dynasty, then to Zāhir ud-Dīn Muḥammad bin Omar Sheikh, or Babur to the Mughal Dynasty.

The reign of Shan Jahan (1649-1857) was the golden period of the Mughal Dynasty. The Mughals became the largest and richest empire in world history. The palace exudes an aura of extraordinary luxury and splendor. His jewelery collection is perhaps the most magnificent in the world.

Shahjahanabad/Old Delhi

In 1639 the Mughal ruler Sultan Shah Jahan moved the capital from Agra to Delhi. Sultan Shah Jahan actually liked Agra as the capital of the Mughal Empire but as the population continued to increase Agra became densely populated. This condition had a major impact on the implementation of ceremonies and parades in the city. When the grand ceremony procession took place the streets of the narrow city of Agra were crowded with people.

Shah Jahan wanted to build a new capital city located between Lahore and Agra. He instructed the court’s architects, engineers and astrologers to find a suitable for the new capital city. The choice fell on Delhi because of the city’s experience and reputation. Delhi had been the capital of previous kingdoms. Delhi is also considered appropriate because the transfer from Agra can be done conveniently via the river route.

Sultan Shah Jahan loves art and architecture. His great interest in architecture led him to build Shahjahanabad. He carefully designed Shahjahanabad as the new capital of the Mughal Dynasty. The pattern of the city of Shahjahanabad is determined by a semicircular shape where part of the idea is inspired by the ‘karmuka’ or curved arc shape design in the ancient Hindu text vastu shastra. The grandeur of the building is inspired by Persian and Mughal styles.

Shahjahanabad is called a walled city because it is surrounded by walls with 14 gates. Ten gates connect the city with the surrounding area. The Lahore Gate is the main entrance of the Red Harbor apart from the Delhi Gate. Kashmere Gate, Calcutta Gate, Mori Gate, Kabul Gate, Faresh Khana Gate, Ajmere Gate and Turkman Gate are other major links of the city to the highway. Shahjahanabad is also surrounded by ten kilometers of wells.

Shah Jahan built Shahjahanabad not just a walled city. He created a beautiful city in it. The palace was built very luxuriously and magnificently with a fort and a large garden. Shahjahanabad as the main city center at that time was inhabited by the rich and the nobility.

The Mighty Red Fort

The focal point of Shahjahanabad or Old Delhi is the Red Fort. The location of the Red Fort is near the Salimgarh Fort which was the political and ceremonial center of the Mughal Sultanate. The Red Fort was built in 1648 and became the official capital of the Mughal dynasty.

The designer of the Red Fort was Ahmad Lahauri, the architect who built the Taj Mahal. The Red Fort was built using red sandstone material. The design combines traditional Persian and Timurid architecture with a large garden. Initially the Red Fort was built under the name Qila I Mubarak, which means the blessed fortress. The name was changed to Lal Quila or red fort according to the color of the fort building made of red sandstone.

The Red Fort is a symbol of defense as well as the protection of the city. The fort covering an area of ​​254 hectares is surrounded by 2.4 kilometers of defensive walls with towers and bastions as high as 18 meters on the river side and 33 meters on the city side. The Red Fort which is octagonal in shape and has a double dome is designed to be sturdy and mighty so that it is resistant to enemy attacks, time and natural disasters.

Within the Red Fort complex there is a royal palace building with a carved marble main hall, pavilions connected to aqueducts and a large garden. Important buildings within the Fort include Rang Mahal, Nahar Bahishit, Diwan-i-am and Diwan-e-Khas. Diwan-e-Khas is Sultan Shah Jahan’s private audience hall measuring 27.4 x 20.4 meters.

The white marble pavilion supported by intricately carved pillars is the tallest ornament of all the buildings within the Red Fort. So captivated by the beauty of the pavilion, Sultan Shah Jahan engraved the words of praise “If there is a heaven on this earth, “this is it, this is it”.

In 1656 the Jama mosque was built on an elevated site near the Red Fort. The Jama Mosque is a large mosque dedicated exclusively to the royal family. The mosque has a high minaret and dome which is its hallmark. Until now the Jama mosque is still the largest mosque in Delhi.

The entire fort complex represents the creativity and brilliance of Mughal architecture. Representation of a masterpiece of art. The reign of the 5th Mughal King Sultan Shah Jahān was a time of extraordinary literary, painting, calligraphy and architectural activity. For more than 30 years Shahjahanabad flourished not only as the capital of the Mughal Empire but also a center for culture, art, poetry and music.

Today the Red Fort is one of the most popular monuments in India and a major tourist attraction in Delhi. This unique monument exhibits various valuable artifacts. In 2007 the Red Fort was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. The Red Fort is an important and special historical building in India. Every year the Prime Minister of India flies the national flag at the Red Fort on Independence Day.


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