“I asked my soul: What is Delhi? She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib”
Delhi is a city that has seen both glory and destruction in its long and chequered history. It has been plundered defaced and ruined time and again only to spring from its very ashes to become the capital of powerful dynasties. Temperamental and proud, this eternal city allowed only the most powerful to rule it. In a wary vein this Rajasthani couplet apltly sums Dilli: “Dilli Raand Dogali, Aatan No Jaato karey , Nar Dekhe Naato Karey Bhoganiyan Ne Bhog Lee. (Dilli is a fickle one she shoos away fascinated suitors. Only those who come up to her exacting standards enjoy her favours)
Delhi has a hoary past dating back to the times of the MAHABHARTA when it was known as INDRAPRASTHA , the current habitation has seen the emergence of at least 10 cities through the thousand years of its existence. Delhi is a city of many layers. It bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. Many a city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Interestingly, many of Delhi’s rulers played a dual role, first as destroyers and then as creators. The city’s importance lies not just in its past glory as the seat of empires and magnificent monuments, but also in the rich and diverse cultures. No wonder chroniclers of Delhi culture — from Chand Bardai and Amir Khusro to William Dalrymple and film-maker Dibakar Banerjee — are never at a loss for topics. For first-timers, Delhi can seem chaotic and confusing with its crazy traffic. But scratch the surface and you will discover that the city is sprinkled with dazzling gems: captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums and art galleries, architectural wonders, a vivacious performing-arts scene, fabulous eating places and bustling markets. Delhi has been the political hub of India. Every political activity in the country traces its roots here.