- Delhi stands along the banks of river Yamuna and is flanked by other states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
- Spread over an area of 1483 sq. kilometers with an altitude of 216 meters above sea level, Delhi has a population of around 16.7 million (as per 2011 census).
- Hindi, English, Punjabi, and Urdu are the most common languages of Delhi.
- There used to be a tram service in Delhi that started in the year 1903; the same year electricity was introduced in the city. But now tram service is no more in Delhi.
- Delhi is derived from the word “Dhillika” which had around 18 different sites of various kings and emperors that include Indraprastha, Lal Kot, Quila Rai Pithora, Siri, Jahanpanah, Ferozabad, Dinpanah, Tughlakabad, Delhi Sher Shahi, Shahjahanabad, etc.
- The city of Delhi was destroyed and rebuilt seven times and ruled by successive empires and dynasties.
- Some of the most famous rulers that reigned ruled over Delhi were Tomaras, Mamluks, Khilji, Tughlaqs, Sayyids, Lodhis, Mughals, and British.
- Delhi has been found to be a region that was continuously inhabited since 6thcentury BCE.
- In 1206, the Delhi Sultanate was established by Qutb-ud-in-Aibak, the first ruler of slave dynasty.
- Mughal emperor Shahjahan built a walled city in Delhi in the year 1639, which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1649 to 1857.
- Delhi came under the direct rule of the British Crown after the Indian rebellion of 1857; it was made a district province of Punjab.
- In 1911, the capital of British Raj was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi after George V’s declaration.
- The grand colonial architecture of New Delhi is credited to Edwin Luyten who was called by King George V for designing and building the British Empire’s administrative buildings. The most grandiose among Luyten’s creation is the Viceroy’s building which is now the presidential palace and is known as Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- 5000 workers were employed for the construction of Jama Masjid, India’s largest
mosque. The construction commenced from 1650 and took six years to complete. The mosque was build on the orders of Emperor Shahjahan to complement his palace at the Red Fort.
- The Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest brick minaret at 72.5 meters, was build by Qutub-ud-din Aibek but it was completed by his successor Iltutmish.
- In the center of the courtyard of Qutub Minar stands the iron pillar of Ashoka that is resistant to rust.
- The last fort built in India was the Red Fort which is situated in Old Delhi. It was completed in 1647 when Shahjahan decided to shift the Mughal seat of power from Agra to Delhi.
- Delhi is believed to be the site of the famous city of Indraprastha, founded by the Pandavas from the Sanskrit epic of Mahabharata.
- Delhi’s maximum length is 51.9 kilometers while its maximum width is 48.48 kilometers.
- Delhi ridge is the largest city forest in Delhi, which is also known as the ‘green lungs’ of the city. The ridge is a northern extension of the Aravalli ranges and protects Delhi from the sandy winds of the west.
- The Delhi ridge makes Delhi the World’s Second most bird-rich Capital city after Nairobi in Kenya.
- Compared to the Himalayas, which are 50 million years old, Delhi Ridge still stands with a whopping age of 1500 million years!
- The political status of Delhi is that of a federally-administered union territory that is known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) and includes National Capital Region.
- The National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) is the largest metropolis by area and the second largest metropolis by population.
- With the head counts of 16.7 million (2011 Census) National Capital Territory is the eight largest metropolis in the world by population.
- It has the third largest tree-cover among the cities in India.
- It 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’’ in 2003.
- It is ranked as the 7thmost expensive office hotspot in the world.
- It hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the largest and reportedly the most expensive Commonwealth Games held till date.
- Delhi’s public transport the DTC or Delhi Transport Corporation runs the world’s largest fleet of environment-friendly CNG buses.
- DTC was once called the DTU or Delhi Transport Undertaking. In early 50s and 60s, no bus was allowed to carry more than its seating capacity and an additional 12 standing passengers at the most.
- The Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, one of the satellite cities of Delhi, is among the 5 top fastest circuits in the world for Formula One racing.
- The Delhi ridge makes Delhi the World’s Second most bird-rich Capital city after Nairobi in Kenya. Delhi has the third largest tree-cover among the cities in India.
- Delhi is ranked as the 7th most expensive office hotspot in the world.
- Delhi hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the largest and reportedly the most expensive Commonwealth Games held till date.
- The female voice of Delhi Metro, who speaks in English, is Ms. Rini Simon Khanna and male voice of Delhi Metro, who speaks in Hindi, is Mr. Shammi Narang.
- The few of the famous movies ever to be shot in the Delhi metro are Bewafaa, Paa, Dev D, Love Aaj Kal and Delhi 6 too have scenes from Delhi metro.
- The escalators at all the Delhi metro stations are provided with unique ‘sari guard‘ feature that sidetracks loose clothing such as saris of ladies from getting trapped in the escalator.
- Khari Baoli is the Asia’s largest wholesale spice market. A must visit for the once-in-a-lifetime overdose of a spice cocktail high.
- Delhi has an International Toilet museum.
1. Facts about India Gate
1. India Gate dates back to 1921, when the Duke of Connaught laid the foundation stone of this great monument. However, the building took ten years to be completed and it was culminated in 1931. It is said to be inspired by the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Edwin Lutyens was the architect of India Gate.
2. Lying in the heart of the city, the famous monument reaches a height of 42 m and has the names of those Indian soldiers inscribed on its walls, who gave up their lives in the Afghan Wars and World War I. the building is flanked by numerous important roads of the city of Delhi.
3. After the country achieved its independence in 1947, this great War Memorial dedicated to Indian soldiers in the British Army was converted into the Indian Army’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
4. It houses the famous Amar Jawan Jyoti, the flame which stays alight 24X7, in the memory of the martyrs of the 1971 Indo Pak War. The flame was unveiled by Mrs Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of the country on the occasion of Republic day of 1972.
5. Amar Jawan Jyoti is situated in a shrine, which has a cenotaph made of black marble, with a rifle placed on it and a helmet of a soldier pl;aced on top of the rifle.
6. This shrine is of great importance as all the dignitaries along with the Prime Minister and the President of the country pay their obituary at it on all kinds of important ceremonies and national events. They place wreaths on the shrine to honor the great martyrs.
7. Soldiers from all the three services of the Indian Armed Forces are kept at vigil round the clock at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.
8. India Gate is regarded as one of the largest war memorials of the country, which is visited by millions of Indian and international tourists every year,
9. In addition to being a patriotic attraction, the monument is also a popular picnic spot, where people gather by the night in summers and afternoons in the winters to have a nice time in the lush green lawns surrounding the areas.
10. India Gate is also famous for hosting the Republic Day Parade on 26th January every year. The Parade which has the Rashtrapati Bhawan as its starting point, later passes around India Gate.
India Gate is a monument of historic and national importance. It is no less than a shrine for the patriotic people, who honor the respect of the country and want to pay homage to the soldiers who lost their lives to keep up the prestige of the country.
2. Interesting Facts About the Delhi Qutub Minar
- Qutub Minar means ‘pole’ or ‘axis’ in Arabic
- The Qutub Minar is the highest single tower in India
- The tower marked the site of the first Muslim kingdom in North India
- It was built as a mighty, awesome tower of victory to commemorate the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi
- Qutub Minar was meant to be the prototype of all minars(towers) in India
- It was influenced by the brick victory pillars in Ghazni in Afghanistan
- The iron pillar in the Qutub Minar complex has not rusted after some 2000 years
- Parts of the Qutub Minar complex have been built out of Hindu temples which can be seen clearly in the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid
- The Qutub Minar has been damaged by lightening twice in 1326 and 1368
- Qutub Minar has a Decorative Light Show every evening from 6:30 to 8pm as well as the Qutub Minar Festival in October/November
3. Facts about Redfort
1. The Red Fort was originally white!
Yes, it’s called the Red Fort, but it was not originally built that way. As per the Archaeological Survey of India, parts of the building were made of lime stone. When the white stone started chipping off, the building was painted red by the British.
2. The fort owes its name to the boundary walls
The high boundary walls were meant to provide maximum security to the royals. Since it was constructed in red stone and bricks the British called it Red Fort, and the natives translated it to the Lal Qila.
- Qila-e-Mubarak was what the Red Fort used to be called
The Red Fort as we know it, was actually called Qila-e-Mubarak or the blessed fort. The monument was constructed when Mughal emperor Shah Jahan decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi.
4. It took 10 long years to built the Red Fort
It is quite obvious that with limited machinery, construction in those days took longer. But 10 years! Ustad Hamid and Ustad Ahmed, the pioneering architects of Shah Jahan’s time, started the construction in 1638 and finally completed it in 1648.
- The Kohinoor diamond was part of the furniture
The Kohinoor diamond was actually part of Shah Jahan’s throne. Made of solid gold and studded with precious stones, the extravagant royal seat stood in Diwan-i-Khas (the hall of private audience), flaunting the world’s largest diamond.
- The main entrance of the fort is called the Lahore gate
The Red Fort has two main gates – the Delhi gate and the Lahore gate. The Lahore gate got its name because of its orientation towards Lahore. After all, India and Pakistan used to be the same country once.
- There is also a water gate
There is a third minor exit to the fort. Originally on the riverbank it was meant to ensure easy access to the river Yamuna. However, over the years, the course of the river changed but the name remained.
- The shape of the Red Fort is octagonal
A bird’s eye view of this amazing architectural splendour (spread over 256 acres) reveals its octagonal shape. The shape of the encircling red wall of the fort actually looks like an octagon.
9. The Rang Mahal was named quite aptly
The Rang Mahal – literally meaning the palace of colours – was the residence of the emperor’s wives, mistresses and maids. The emperor being one lucky man, lived right next door in the Khas Mahal so that he could visit the palace for dinner, or stroll over for coffee. However, the entry for others, except the princes was forbidden.
- Bahadur Shah was tried by the British in his own fort
Bahadur Shah was tried in his own ancestral home by the British on charges of treason. The trial that took place in Diwan-i-Khas in front of British court found Shah Zafar guilty, after which he was stripped of his title and exiled to Rangoon (now Myanmar).
- Since the first Independence Day, the PM gives a speech from the Red Fort every Independence Day.
Every year on Independence Day, our Prime Minister gives a speech and addressing the people of the nation and hoists the national flag at the Red Fort. This tradition has been continuing since the first Independence Day of India.
- The British stripped the fort of all its valuables
At the end of the Mughal rule, the British took over the fort. They not only stripped it of its valuables and sold them, but also damaged monuments and buildings inside. The drain of wealth theory is actually explicit in this case!
- The Red Fort is a world heritage site
The UNESCO has named the Red Fort as a world heritage site in 2007 for its historical and cultural significance. An architectural wonder India should be proud of.
5. Some Amazing Facts About The Akshardham Temple
- It is one of the biggest and most intricate religious places of worship ever constructed
- The Akshardham temple, built without steel, is entirely composed of sandstone and marble
- It consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India’s great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personalities
- The Akshardham temple Delhi was built after over 300 million man hours of services rendered by 11,000 volunteers, sadhus and artisans
- The ornate external wall (Mandovar) is the only and largest, intricately carved structure with dimensions of 611ft x 31ft that is built in the last 800 years
- The Gajendra Pith stretching for 1,070 ft and weighing 3,000 tons, has 148 full-sized elephants, 42 birds and animals, 125 human sculptures!
- The Akshardham parikrama (circumambulatory path) consists of 1,152 pillars, 145 windows and 154 samvaran shikhars; amounting to a total of 53,956 stones.
6. Interesting Facts about Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple is located in New Delhi, India. It is a Bahai House of Worship. The structure was completed in 1986. This structure is notable for its flowerlike shape. This place of worship serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent. Due to its peculiar structure, it has become a prominent attraction in the city. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. In this article, we would be highlighting 10 interesting facts about Lotus temple.
- Lotus temple is open to people from all religions. It is one of the houses of Bahai Worship.
- Bahai law emphasizes the universality of all religions. It states that House of Worship is a gathering place for people of all religions.
- The law further states that only the holy scriptures of Bahai faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language.
- The readings and prayers can be set to music by choirs as per the law specified by Bahai religion.
- No musical instruments can be played inside the house of God according to the followers of Bahai religion.
- Furthermore, no sermons can be delivered. Hence, there is no place for practice of ritualistic ceremonies within this religious community.
- Like other Bahai Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple shares certain architectural elements. Some of these are specified in the Bahai scripture.
- Abhui-Baha is the son of the founder of this religion. He had stipulated that the essential architectural character of a House of Worship should have a nine-sided shape.
- All the Houses of Worship built by the Bahai community have dome in the central structure. However, the Lotus Temple does not have this characteristic architectural element.
- There is no place for pictures, photos, statues or images in Bahai religion.
9. Facts about Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid in Delhi is the largest mosque in India- the country with the largest number of mosques. It is an architectural masterpiece constructed during the reign of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor famous for his patronage of arts and architecture. Other monuments constructed under Shah Jahan’s reign are the Taj Mahal at Agra, the Red Fort, Moti Masjid in the Agra Fort, the Tomb of Jahangir, the eponymous Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta.
The monuments built during Shah Jahan’s reign can easily be told apart from the rest of Mughal architecture by their elegance and intricate design. The Jama Masjid too carries the distinct stamp of Shah Jahan.
The Jama Masjid marries the concept of religion and society, with a simplicity and logic that holds, three centuries later. Even today, the mosque is not an ancient object of study of students of architecture but it is a thriving center of human activity.
People visiting the mosque in the evening, sit around in the courtyard soaking in the golden red rays of the setting sun. Hundreds of pigeon can be seen settled in the crevices of the mosque and on its steps and domes. A running child or an over enthusiastic visitor to the mosque often scares away flocks of feeding penguins which take flight together. They form a beautiful sight. In the evening people pour in from the nearby market when the muezzin calls for prayer. At such a moment, it is impossible to distinguish the mosque as a monument whose architectural features deserve separate study. The monument, the worshipers and the prayer that rents the air- all become one contiguous life.
Jama Masjid can accommodate 25000 worshipers at the same time.
Daytime is more suited for a study of the rich architectural design of the mosque.
The construction of the mosque was started in 1650 AD and was complete by 1656 AD.
The mosque has gates opening to its courtyard from three sides- northern gate, southern gate, eastern gate. The eastern gate is also called the royal gate. Each gate was meant to let in people of different social classes. The emperor and his family entered through the east gate which has 35 steps. Nobles entered through the northern gate. Common people entered through the southern gate.
The eastern gate is more elaborately planned with honeycomb carvings on its soffit. A large number of cupolas also decorate the eastern gate. A Bengali balcony projects from the rear side of the gate.
The mosque itself faces west. The southern and northern gates are less elaborately styled, and are smaller. The verandahs running out from both sides of these gates have seventeen columns each.
The central building of the mosque is built on a great sandstone courtyard. There are colonnaded verandahs surrounding the courtyard from all sides. The ablution pond is in the center of the courtyard. It is made of marble, and a fountain springs from its center. Right in front of the tank, there is a sandstone platform for the Muazzin- an Islamic cleric who calls out to followers of the faith to come attend their evening prayers. A grey sandstone pulpit can be seen at the central entrance to the mosque, and two sun dials indicate the time. There are cloisters on all three sides and the mosque on one side.
The main mosque:
Entry to the main mosque is through an archway. There are minarets on both sides of the archway surmounted by cupolas. Five arches open from the mosque hall.
In its space plan and architectural design, the Jama Masjid bears a strong resemblance to the Moti Masjid of Agra. The word ‘Yahadi’ is inscribed on the spandrel of the central archway.
The floor of the main mosque is made of thin black marble, with designs of mozalla- the praying carpet used by Muslims.
There are three domes atop the roof of the Jama Masjid. These have an inner and outer shell with sufficient space between the shells. This not only gives the mosque a grand appearance but also helps cooling. The domes are fluted at the top and mounted with copper gilt spikes.
History of Jama Masjid:
The Jama Masjid was built by emperor Shah Jahan as a response to the need of a mosque in his fortified city of Shahjahanabad. It took five thousand workers a span of six years to complete the construction of the mosque, which was started in 1650. The workers were paid a wage of 1 paise per day then! The cost for this project came to 1 million rupees, even without considering the price of stone and marble.
12. Interesting Facts About Humayun’s Tomb
Built in the 15th century, Humayun’s Tomb is an intriguing historical site in Delhi. Below are some of the facts that you would like to know –
- There are more than 100 graves within the entire complex. Several of them are on the first level terrace, known as “Dormitory of the Mughals”.
- Humayun’s Tomb was designed by a Persian architect, Mirak Mirza Ghiyath.
- It was notably the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent with beautiful causeways and channels.
- It was the first Indian building known as a classic specimen of the double-domed elevation with kiosks on a huge scale.
- The tomb’s concept of eight side chambers symbolizes the Islamic concept of paradise.
- The building introduced the distinctive combination of red sandstone and white marble.
- Contrary to Taj Mahal, which a husband built in the memory of his wife, Humayun Tomb was built by a wife, Hamida Banu Begam, for her husband.
- UNESCO declared the tomb a World Heritage Site in 1993.
- Humayun’s Tomb has earned the status of being a landmark in the expansion of Mughal architecture.
- Humayun’s Tomb inspired the construction of the much celebrated Taj Mahal, which was built a century later.
13. Facts about Rashtrapati Bhawan
- The Marble Hall has some majestic displays of rare portraits and statues of the Viceroys and British Royalty. But what stands out from among all these displays is the extremely lifelike wax statue of our current President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, created by an Asansol based artist. Better than some of the statues I’ve seen at Madame Tussaud’s, I would think!
- The grand Darbar Hall lies directly under the large dome, the iconic feature of Rashtrapati Bhawan that is visible from miles afar. If you follow the line running through the centre of the Darbar Hall, you will reach India Gate, that is located in a straight line from the Durbar Hall.
- At the back of Durbar Hall is a statue of Gautama Buddha, belonging to the golden age of India’s history and art, the Gupta age (4th-5th century AD). The height level at which the statue is placed is level with the height of India Gate. Remember, Rashtrapati Bhawan is built atop a hill, Raisina Hill.
- The Gift Museum, with a host of gifts received by different Presidents, also displays King George V’s silver chair weighing 640 kg on which he sat at the Delhi Durbar 1911. The Marble Hall also has a similar chair, but lighter, used by Queen Mary at the Delhi Durbar. The Gift Museum also has a special exhibit – a dried flower that once covered the mortal remains of Gandhiji after his assassination in 1948.
- The Mughal Gardens are perhaps the most visited part of the estate, spectacular in Spring. Laid out along the lines of the gardens in Kashmir and Agra, the Mughal gardens are known for their large varieties of flowers, especially the beautiful tulips, humongous dahlias, giant roses in so many colours – including green, grand lilies and the rare but stunning Iris. But the most mesmerising sight of them was the Circular Garden, with its terraced bowl flower beds, each blooming with a different variety and burst of colour.
- The impressive Banquet Hall can seat upto 104 guests at one time and has played host to some of the most important dignitaries from the world over. What is most interesting about this place is not just the secret galleries for the musicians, but the system of lights situated over the portraits of former Presidents, that serve as a signal to the butlers about when to serve, when to stop and when to clear the hall.
- And how was all that food prepared? The Kitchen Museum has a fascinating collection of implements like a large coffee maker, copper ladles, primitive slicers and large utensils. Given pride of place under a tiered chandelier is the Star of India crockery, with crystal stemware and shining silver cutlery. The exhibits roughly cover the period from 1911, when King George V and Queen Mary announced at their Coronation Durbar that the capital would move from Calcutta to Delhi till India’s independence.
- The Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan, which is now used for holding ceremonial functions like presentation of credentials by Heads of Missions of foreign countries, swearing-in of Ministers, etc. was originally the Ball Room of the Viceroys, complete with a wooden dance floor with springs underneath. On the ceiling are intricate paintings – a combination of oil-on-canvas and frescos, the centre of which is a painting showing an equestrian portrait of Fateh Ali Shah, the second of the seven Qajar rulers of Persia, hunting with twenty-two of his sons. The rest of the paintings are by an Italian painter, Colonnello, who inspired by the central Persian painting extended its forest theme with four more hunting scenes with inscriptions in Persian.
- There is a ceremonial ‘Change of Guard’ ceremony, held every Saturday at 10 am. This 30 minute ceremony is open to the public and you only have to produce a photo ID at the place of entry to Rashtrapati Bhavan (from Gate No. 2 near Prime Minister’s Office). After the assumption of office by President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the ceremony has been revamped and relocated to make it more visually appealing and public friendly. An equestrian display by the Presidents’ Body Guard (PBG) in their ceremonial regalia has been added and the venue has been shifted to the Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, with easier public access.
- The President’s mansion is not just about history and great personalities, there is also an interesting Children’s Gallery. This gallery is divided into two parts: one ‘By the children’ where the paintings and sketches presented to the Presidents are on display and the other ‘For the Children- which feature a variety of items that would interest children such as musical instruments, optical illusion devices, planetary system, time zones, quotable quotes and a model newspaper for 2020 etc.
- Look out for the chief architect Edward Lutyens’ favourite motif – the circle. You will find it in every nook and corner – patterns on the floor, arches and doorways, window jaalis and even the breathtaking Circular Garden described above. Lutyens seamlessly blended European architecture with Indian influences and you will find abundant use of Buddhist railings, chhajjas, chhatris and jaalis. Also look out for temple bells atop pillars located all around the structure.
- In summary, the impressive numbers: Rashtrapati Bhavan stands on a 330-acre estate and the building itself covers an area of five acres. The building, that took over 17 years to complete, contains 11/2 miles of corridors, 340 rooms of which 63 are living rooms, 227 columns, 35 loggias or lobbies and 37 fountains including the roof fountains. At one time there were 29,000 people working on the site. Three million cubic feet of stone and 700 million bricks went into the construction.