Sunday, May 8, 2011


—  Capital  —
From top clockwise: Lotus Temple, Humayun's Tomb,Connaught Place, Akshardham Temple, and India Gate.
Location of Delhi in India
Seal of Delhi

Delhi, locally pronounced as Dilli (Hindi: दिल्ली, Punjabi: ਦਿੱਲੀ, Urdu: دِلّی) or Dehli (Hindi: देहली, Punjabi: ਦੇਹਲੀ, Urdu: دهلی), 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 16,753,235 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census. 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 BC, though human habitation is believed to have existed since the second millennium BC. Delhi is also widely believed to have been the site of Indraprastha, the legendary capital of the Pandavas during the times of the Mahabharata. Delhi re-emerged as a major political, cultural and commercial city along the trade routes between northwest India and theGangetic 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 ruleand 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.

Etymology and idioms

The Etymology and idioms of "Delhi" is uncertain, but many possibilities exist. The very common view is that its eponym is Dhillu or Dilu, a king of the Mauryan dynasty, who built the city in 50 BC and named it after himself. The Hindi/Prakrit word dhili ("loose") was used by the Tomaras to refer to the city because the Iron Pillar built by Raja Dhava had a weak foundation and was replaced. The coins in circulation in the region under the Tomaras were called dehliwal. Some other historians believe that the name is derived from Dilli, a corruption of dehleez or dehali—Urdu for 'threshold'—and symbolic of city as a gateway to the Gangetic Plain. Another theory suggests that the city's original name was Dhillika.
Delhi is referenced in various idioms of North Indian and Pakistani languages. Examples include -
  • Abhi Dilli door hai (or, its Persian version, Hanooz Dilli door ast) literally meaning Delhi is still far away, which is generically said about a task or journey is still far from complete.
  • Dilli dilwalon ka shehr or Dilli Dilwalon ki meaning Delhi belongs to the large-hearted/daring.
  • Aas-paas barse, Dilli pari tarse literally meaning it pours all around, while Delhi lies parched. An allusion to the sometimes semi-arid climate of Delhi, it idiomatically refers to situations of deprivation when there is plenty all around.


At 72.5 m (238 ft), the Qutub Minar is the world's tallest free-standing brickminaret.
Built in 1560, Humayun's Tomb is the first example of Mughal tomb complexes.
Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the location from which the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation onIndependence Day
Human habitation was probably present in and around Delhi during the second millennium BC and before, andcontinuous inhabitation has been evidenced since at least the 6th century BC. 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 (c. 300 BC).
Remains of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in AD 736. The Chauhans conquered Lal Kot in 1180 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 Afghan 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 lenient towards their Hindusubjects. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Near Delhi, Timur massacred 100,000 captives. Delhi was a major centre of Sufism during the Sultanate period. In 1526, Zahiruddin Babur defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
The Mughal Empire ruled northern India for more than three centuries, with a sixteen-year hiatus during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, from 1540 to 1556. During 1553–1556, the Hindu king, Hemu Vikramaditya acceded to the throne of Delhi by defeating forces of Mughal Emperor Akbar at Agra and Delhi. However, the Mughals reestablished their rule after Akbar's army defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat. 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. After 1680, the Mughal Empire's influence declined rapidly as the Hindu Marathas rose to prominence.
A weakened Mughal Empire lost the Battle of Karnal, following which the victorious forces of Nader Shah invaded and looted Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. A treaty signed in 1752 made Marathas the protector of the Mughal throne at Delhi. In 1761, after the Marathas lost the third battle of Panipat, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali. In 1803, the forces of British East India Company overran the Maratha forces near Delhi and ended the Mughal rule over the city.
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Delhi came under direct rule of the British crown and was made a district province of the Punjab. In 1911, the capital of British India was transferred from Calcutta to Delhi, following which a team of British architects led by Edwin Lutyens designed a new political and administrative area, known as New Delhi, to house the government buildings. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens' Delhi, was officially declared as the capital of the Union of India after the country gained 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. Starting on 31 October 1984, approximately three thousand Sikhs were killed during the four-day long anti-Sikh riots after the Sikh body guards of then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, assassinated her. Migration to Delhi from the rest of India continues, contributing more to the rise of Delhi's population than the birth rate, which is declining.
The Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Act gave Delhi its own legislative assembly, though with limited powers. In December 2001, the Parliament of India building in New Delhi was attacked by armed militants resulting in the death of six security personnel. India suspected the hand of Pakistan-based militant groups in the attacks resulting in a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Delhi again witnessed terrorist attacks in October 2005 and September 2008 resulting in the deaths of 62 and 30 civilians respectively.


River Yamuna near Delhi

Lightning strikes near India Gate, New Delhi. Delhi receives much of its rainfall during the monsoon season which lasts from July to September
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is spread over an area of 1,484 km2 (573 sq mi) , of which 783 km2 (302 sq mi) is designated rural, and 700 km2 (270 sq mi) urban. Delhi has a maximum length of 51.9 km (32 mi) and the maximum width of 48.48 km (30 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 an expansive area, in its extremity it spans from Narela in the north to Badarpur in the south. Najafgarh is the furthest point west, and Seemapuri is its eastern extremity. The NCR encompasses towns south and east of the said border, namely Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.
Oddly, the main expanse of Delhi does not follow a specific geographical feature. The main city area of Delhi does not end until Saket in the South, whilst the northern limit is Jahangirpuri and the western limit is Janakpuri-Dwarka. The terrain of Delhi shows great variation. It changes from plain agricultural fields in the north to dry, arid hills (an offshoot of the Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan) in the south and west. There used to be large natural lakes in the southern part of the city, but most have now dried up. Most of Delhi, including New Delhi, is situated on the western banks of the river Yamuna which separates the main city from eastern suburbs (commonly known as trans-Yamuna), although there is a good connectivity between the eastern and western sides, with a number of road and railway bridges as well as the Delhi Metro.
Delhi is located at 28.61°N 77.23°E, and lies in northern India. It borders the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the east and Haryana on the north, west and south. During British Raj it was adjacent to the province of Punjab and still historically and culturally tied closely to the region of Punjab. Almost entirely within the Gangetic plains, two prominent features of the geography of Delhi are the Yamuna flood plains and the Delhi ridge. The low-lying Yamuna flood plains provide fertile alluvial soilsuitable for agriculture but are prone to recurrent floods. Reaching up to a height of 318 m (1,043 ft), the Delhi ridge forms a dominating feature in this region. It 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. Another river called the Hindon River separates Ghaziabad from the eastern part of Delhi. Delhi falls under seismic zone-IV, making it vulnerable to major earthquakes, but earthquakes have not been common in recent history. Delhi has the third highest tree-cover among cities in India.
Delhi was one of the world's ten most polluted cities in the 1990s, with vehicles producing 70% of the polluting emissions. In 1996 the Centre for Science and Environment started a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court of India that ordered the conversion of Delhi's fleet of buses and taxis to be run on Compressed Natural Gas and banned the use of leaded petrol in 1998. In 2003, Delhi won the United States Department of Energy’s first ‘Clean Cities International Partner of the Year’ award for ‘‘bold efforts to curb air pollution and support alternative fuel initiatives’’.


Delhi features an atypical version of the humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa). Summers are long and extremely hot, from early April to mid-October, with the monsoon season in between. Early March sees a reversal in the direction of wind, from the north-western direction, to the south-western. These bring the hot waves from Rajasthan, carrying sand and are a characteristic of the Delhi summer. These are called loo. The months of March to May see a time of hot prickling heat. Monsoon arrives at the end of June, bringing some respite from the heat, but increasing humidity at the same time. The brief, mild winter starts in late November and peaks in January and is notorious for its heavy fog.
Extreme temperatures range from −0.6 °C (30.9 °F) to 46.7 °C (116.1 °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. The average date of the advent of monsoon winds in Delhi is 29 June.

Climate data for Delhi
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Rainfall mm (inches)
Avg. rainy days
Sunshine hours
Source no. 1: WMO 
Source no. 2: HKO (sun only, 1971–1990)