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Delhi


Delhi
sometimes referred to as Dilli is the second-largest city of India and the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population. It is a federally administered union territory officially known as the National Capital Region (NCR).

Located on the banks of river Yamuna in northern India, Delhi has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BC, after the rise of the Delhi Sultanate, Delhi emerged as a major political, cultural and commercial city along the trade routes between northwest India and the Indo-Gangetic plains. It is the site of many ancient and medieval monuments, archaeological sites and remains.
After the British East India Company gained control of much of India during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1911 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.

Owing to the migration of people from across the country, Delhi has grown to be a cosmopolitan city. Today Delhi is a major cultural, political, and commercial center of India.

HISTORY
Human habitation was probably present in and around Delhi during the second millennium BC and before, as evidenced by archeological relics. The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Settlements grew from the time of the Mauryan Empire (300 BC). Remains of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in 736 AD. The Chauhan Rajputs of Ajmer conquered Lal Kot in 1180 AD and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora. The Chauhan king Prithviraj III was defeated in 1192 by the Afghan Muhammad Ghori. In 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty established the Delhi Sultanate. Qutb-ud-din started the construction the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (might of Islam), the earliest extant mosque in India. After the fall of the Slave dynasty, a succession of Turkic and Central Asian dynasties, the Khilji dynasty, the Tughluq dynasty, the Sayyid dynasty and the Lodhi dynasty held power in the late medieval period, and built a sequence of forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi. In 1398, Timur Lenk invaded India on the pretext that the Muslim sultans of Delhi were too much tolerant to their Hindu subjects. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Delhi was a major center of Sufism during the Sultanate period.

The Mughal Empire ruled northern India for more than three centuries, with a five-year hiatus during Sher Shah Suri's reign in the mid-16th century. Mughal emperor Akbar shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name (Shahjahanabad), and is more commonly known as the Old City or Old Delhi. The old city served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638. Nader Shah defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal in February, 1739. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. In 1761, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali after the Third battle of Panipat. At the Battle of Delhi on 11 September 1803, General Lake's British forces defeated the Marathas.
Delhi came under direct British control after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and Delhi was made a district province of the Punjab. In 1911, Delhi was declared the capital of British India and was designed by a team of British architects led by Edwin Lutyens to house the government buildings. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens' Delhi, was officially declared as the seat of the Government of India and the capital of the republic after independence on 15 August 1947. During the partition of India thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees from West Punjab and Sindh fled to Delhi while many Muslim residents of the city migrated to Pakistan.

Built in 1639 by Shah Jahan, the Red Fort is the site from which the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation on Independence Day.

GEOGRAPHY
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is spread over an area of 1,484 km2 (573 sq mi). There are three local bodies (statutory towns) namely, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (area is 1,397.3 km2 or 540 sq mi), New Delhi Municipal Committee (42.7 km2 or 16 sq mi) and Delhi Cantonment Board (43 km2 or 17 sq mi).

Delhi is located at 28°37N 77°14E/28.61N, 77.23E, and lies in northern India. It borders the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh on East and Haryana on West, North and South. Delhi lies almost entirely in the Gangetic plains. Two prominent features of the geography of Delhi are the Yamuna flood plain and the Delhi ridge. The low-lying Yamuna flood plains provide fertile alluvial soil suitable for agriculture. However, these plains are prone to recurrent floods.The ridge forms the most dominating feature in this region, originates from the Aravalli Range in the south and encircles the west, northeast and northwest parts of the city. Yamuna, a sacred river in Hinduism, is the only major river flowing through Delhi.. Delhi falls under seismic zone-IV, making it vulnerable to major earthquakes.
Delhi has a continental climate with high variation between summer and winter temperatures. Summers are long, from early April to mid-October, with the monsoon season in between. Winter starts in late October and peaks in January and is notorious for its heavy fog. Extreme temperatures range from -0.6°C (30.9°F) to 47°C (117 °F). The annual mean temperature is 25°C (77°F); monthly mean temperatures range from 13°C to 32°C (56°F to 90°F). The average annual rainfall is approximately 714 mm (28.1 inches), most of which is during the monsoons in July and August.

CULTURE
Delhi's culture has been influenced by its lengthy history and historic association as the capital of India. This is exemplified by the many monuments of significance found in the city; the Archaeological Survey of India recognises 175 monuments in Delhi as national heritage sites.
Religious festivals include Diwali (the festival of lights), Mahavir Jayanti, Guru Nanak's Birthday, Durga Puja, Holi, Lohri, Maha Shivaratri, Eid and Buddha Jayanti. The Qutub Festival is a cultural event during which performances of musicians and dancers from all over India are showcased at night, with the Qutub Minar as the chosen backdrop of the event. Other events such as Kite Flying Festival, International Mango Festival and Vasant Panchami (the Spring Festival) are held every year in Delhi. The Auto Expo, Asia's largest auto show, is held in Delhi biennially. The World Book Fair, held annually at the Pragati Maidan, is the second largest exhibition of books in the world with as many as 23 nations participating in the event. Delhi is often regarded as the "Book Capital" of India because of high readership.
Punjabi and Mughlai delicacies like kababs and biryanis are popular in several parts of Delhi. Due to Delhi's large cosmopolitan population, cuisines from every part of India, including Rajasthani, Maharashtrian, Bengali, Hyderabadi cuisines, and South Indian food items. There are several food outlets in Delhi serving international cuisine including Italian and Chinese.
Historically, old city's tangle of snaking lanes and teeming bazaars. The dingy markets of the Old City has an eclectic product range from oil-swamped mango, lime and eggplant pickles, candy-colored herbal potions to silver jewelry, bridal attire, uncut material and linen, spices, sweets. Some of old regal havelis (palatial residences) are still there in the Old City.

PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST

Rashtrapati Bhawan
Built with a mix of Western and Indian styles, Rashtrapati Bhavan was originally built for the Governor General of India. Inaugurated in 1931 as the Viceregal Lodge, the name was changed in 1950 after India became a republic.



India Gate

Built in the memory of more than 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the Afghan Wars and World War I, the India Gate is one of the most famous monuments in Delhi.
Situated along the ceremonial Rajpath avenue (meaning King's Way) in New Delhi, India Gate is a memorial raised in honour of the Indian soldiers who died during the Afghan wars and World War I. The names of the soldiers who died in these wars are inscribed on the walls. The cenotaph (or shrine) in the middle is constructed with black marble and depicts a rifle placed on its barrel, crested by a soldier's helmet. Each face of the cenotaph has inscribed in gold the words Amar Jawan (in Hindi, meaning Immortal Warrior). The green lawns at India Gate are a popular evening and holiday rendezvous for young and old alike.

Laxminarayan Temple
Also called the Birla Mandir, the Laxminarayan Temple was built by the Birla family in 1938. Along with the temple itself, the name 'Laxminarayan Temple' encompasses a large garden with fountains behind it. The temple attracts thousands of devotees on Janmashtami day, the birthday of Lord Krishna.

Akshardham Temple
Inaugurated in November 2005, Akshardham Temple has become one of the most visited tourist places of Delhi. In the sprawling 100-acre (0.40 km2) land rests an intricately carved monument, high tech exhibitions, IMAX theatre, musical fountain, food court and gardens.

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib
One of the many Gurdwaras in Delhi, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is the most visited one in the Delhi area. Millions visit this Gurdwara from all over the world and of all religions to offer their prayers at this elegant yet historical Gurdwara in Delhi. This is not just a sacred Sikh shrine, but also very important to many Hindus.

Humayun's Tomb
Humayun's Tomb is one of Delhi's most famous landmarks. The monument has an architectural design similar to the Taj Mahal.

Humayun's Tomb was built by Humayun's widow, Hamida Banu Begum. Designed by a Persian architect named Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, the structure was begun in 1562 and completed in 1565.The tomb established a standard for all later Mughal monuments, which followed its design, most notably the Taj Mahal.

Qutub Minar
At 72.5 meters, the 13th century Qutub Minar is the world's tallest brick minaret.The Qutub Minar is located in a small village called Mehrauli in South Delhi. It was built by Qutub-ud-din Aybak of the Slave Dynasty, who took possession of Delhi in 1206. It is a fluted red sandstone tower, which tapers up to a height of 72.5 metres and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. Qutub-ud-din Aybak began constructing this victory tower as a sign of Muslim domination of Delhi and as a minaret for the Muslim priest, the muezzin, to call the faithful to prayer. However, only the first story was completed by Qutub-ud-din. The other stories were built by his successor Iltutmish. The two circular stories in white marble were built by Ferozshah Tughlaq in 1368, replacing the original fourth story.
The balconies in the tower are supported by exquisite stalactite designs. The tapering tower has pointed and circular flutings on the first story and star-shaped ones on the second and third stories.
The Qutub Minar is also significant for what it represents in the history of Indian culture. In many ways, the Qutub Minar, the first monument built by a Muslim ruler in India, heralded the beginning of a new style of art and architecture that came to be known as the Indo-Islamic style.

Red Fort

The Lahore gate is the main enterance of the Red Fort. The decision for constructing the Red Fort was made in 1639, when Shah Jahan,decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Within eight years, Shahjahanabad (name given to delhi by Shah Jahan) was completed with the Red Fort-Qila-i-Mubarak (fortunate citadel) — Delhi's seventh fort — ready in all its magnificence to receive the Emperor. Though much has changed with the large-scale demolitions during the British occupation of the fort, its important structures have survived.



Chandni Chowk

Chandni Chowk, a main marketplace in Delhi, keeps alive the city's living legacy of Shahjahanabad. Created by Shah Jahan the builder of Taj Mahal, the old city, with the Red Fort as its focal point and Jama Masjid as the praying centre, has a fascinating market called Chandni Chowk. Legend has it that Shah Jahan planned Chandni Chowk so that his daughter could shop for all that she wanted. The market was divided by canals. The canals are now closed, but Chandni Chowk remains Asia's largest wholesale market. Crafts once patronized by the Mughals continue to flourish there.

Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid is one of the largest and most elegant mosques in South Asia.
The Masjid-i-Jahan Numa, commonly known as Jama Masjid, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in the year 1656, it is one of the largest and best known mosques in India.

Purana Quila
The Purana Quila (Old Fort) is a good example of medieval military architecture. Built by Humayun, with later-day modifications by Sher Shah Suri, the Purana Quila is a monument of bold design, which is strong, straightforward, and every inch a fortress. It is different from the well-planned, carefully decorated, and palatial forts of the later Mughal rulers. Purana Quila is also different from the later forts of the Mughals. The main purpose of this now-dilapidated fort was its utility with less emphasis on decoration. The Qal'a-I-Kunha Masjid and the Sher Mandal are two important monuments inside the fort. It was made by Aqeel in 1853.

Raj Ghat
On the bank Yamuna River, which flows past Delhi, there is Raj Ghat, the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. It has become an essential point of call for all visiting dignitaries. Two museums dedicated to Gandhi are situated nearby.

Shanti Van
Lying close to the Raj Ghat, the Shanti Vana (literally, the forest of peace) is the place where India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was cremated. The area is now a beautiful park adorned by trees planted by visiting dignitaries and heads of state.

Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple is a Bahá'í House of Worship, situated in South Delhi and shaped like a lotus. It was built by the Bahá'í community in 1986 and has won numerous architectural awards. The Lotus Temple is open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction.