Delhi in all its incarnations through time – Hastinapur, Indraprastha, Dilli or New Delhi, is a place that has comfortably defied adjectives and exceeded superlatives. A constant melting pot of cultures, people, attitudes, and arts, Delhi has been the hub, the breeding grounds, and in many cases, the lifeblood of Indian culture as we have come to know it. It is in this treacherous knowledge that Delhi is, more often than not, beyond words to be described, that I begin this effort to paint a reliable picture of this favorite city of ours, Delhi
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The city’s history goes back to the first traces of recorded history itself, to the time of Mahabharata, when Kauravas and Pandavas built Hastinapur and Indraprastha respectively. But, Delhi as it is known to us, began taking shape about a millenium ago. The slave dynasty founded by Qutub ud-Din Aibak, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, and the Lodis – the many dynasties that ruled Delhi between the 12th and 16th centuries, all left their unique imprints on the city with architectural marvels like Qutub Minar, Ferozshah Kotla, Tughlaqabad Fort, Lodi Gardens among many others. Then the Mughals took over, and Delhi got a sort of facelift with a spree in monuments that ranged from imposing to gorgeous to beautiful. Some of them, like Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and the whole walled city around them, have become objects of daily life of a Delhiite.
A Melting Pot
Image Source- Wikimedia
At Delhi University’s Convocation in 1958, Nehru talked about Delhi’s “…great capacity to absorb many cultures and yet remain itself”. Obvious from the many sightseeing places that exist here. The fact that Connaught Place, Jantar Mantar, India Gate and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib can stand so close in perfect harmony is a testimony of that great quality. One place where that perfectly sensible diversity is most enjoyable is the Delhi cuisine. The various communities and cultures, from the Persian/Muslim rulers, to Sindhis and more recently people from all over the country, have brought with them their culinary traditions that have been modified and enhanced in Delhi. From Karims’ authentic non-vegetarian fare and Saravana Bhavan’s delectable South Indian cuisine, to chowmein samosas and tandoori momos on the streets, the quantity and quality of food is overwhelming at times but always DELHIcious.
An Art Hub
Image Source- Wikimedia
Any portrait of a city will be incomplete without talking about the art and literature that has breathed through its streets. Delhi has been home to a fascinating number of poets and authors over its lifetime. While the legendary Urdu poets of yore, like Amir Khusro, Mir Taqi Mir and Miza Ghalib enjoyed great patronage from their contemporary rulers, modern authors like Khushwant Singh and William Dalrymple have done a significant lot to paint an honest picture of this city, of contemporary times and of years long gone now. Many famous painters and sculptors, notably Satish Gujral, Anjjolie Ela Menon, among many others, have blessed Delhi by making it the place their best work came to life. The city, in turn, has diligently and proudly preserved these traditions in its museums and galleries like the National Gallery of Modern Art, the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum, Vadehra Art Gallery and literature and music festivals like Delhi Lit Fest and Jashn-e Rekhta, a fierce bastion of Urdu literature, that celebrate these personalities and their works.
A World In Itself
Delhi’s grandeur and its openness for all most probably originates from it being a seat of power for all of its existence. While ancient legend stated “He who rules Delhi, rules India”, Subhash Chandra Bose called his men to action with cries of “Dilli Chalo”. Even under British Raj, Delhi was the power center and the venue for constant tussles between power and freedom. When the Red Fort listened on to the immortal words “When the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”, Delhi’s status as the place that will run this country was etched into permanence. With power have come influences, of culture, art, religion and language. Delhi has opened its arms to them all and constantly led the way in redefining how cities are meant to be. A Delhi travel package is ripe with just about everything, from food, culture, experiences, art, history, architecture to everything that the modern world has to offer.
Best Time to Visit Delhi – February to March and September to November