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Delhi and New Delhi

[del' E] the capital of India and its "suburb"

The metropolitan area of Delhi is located on the Jumna River, in northern India. It covers an area of 572 sq mi (1,483 sq km), and, as of 2011, has a population of about 22 million. New Delhi, the capital city of India, is actually a suburb of Delhi, located about five miles (eight kilometers) south of the "Old Delhi" city center. Delhi and New Delhi together comprise the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The federal government is the primary employer in New Delhi. Manufacturing concerns in the Delhi metropolitan area include razor blades, sporting goods, electronics parts, plastic and PVC goods, textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, soft drinks, and hand and machine tools. Service industries include information technology, telecommunications, hotels, banking, media, and tourism.


Delhi and the area around it has been inhabited since the earliest centuries of Indian civilization. Ashoka, the first great Emperor of India, established his capital on the site about 2,500 years ago, at which time it was known as Idraprastha. It came under the rule of the Tomaras in the 10th century A.D., and under the Chauhans in the mid-12th century. In 1206, it became the seat of the Delhi Sultanate, which lasted until 1526. In the early 1600's, Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan moved his capital from Agra and laid the foundations of the "modern" city of Delhi.

The British, under the auspices of the East India Company, took control of Delhi after the decline of the Mogul Empire. In 1877, the city hosted the ceremonies at which Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India.

In 1912, the British government decided to move the capital from the coastal city of Calcutta to Delhi. But rather than add to the already overcrowded conditions in the main city, government officials decided to construct what is now New Delhi, making it the first modern city in the world to be built specifically as a national capital. The seat of government was officially moved to New Delhi in 1931. The city subsequently became the capital of the independent nation of India in 1947.

Sites of Interest


Purana Qila (Old Fort) is a massive sandstone citadel that is believed to have built on the ruins of Idraprastha, the capital of Ashoka's empire. The site is revered by many Indians, and the citadel is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi.

Purana Qila (Old Fort)


Qutab Minar is a red sandstone and white marble tower that stands 238 feet (73 meters) high, making it the tallest stone tower in India. It was begun in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after his defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom, added to by his successors, and completed in 1368. At its foot is the Quwwat-ul-Islam (Light of Islam) Mosque, the first mosque built in India (1193-1197).

Qutab Minar


Red Fort gets its name from the red sandstone from which it was constructed. Its foundation stones were laid by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in 1618, and it was completed in 1648. It was from here that the British deposed the last Mogul ruler, Bhadur Shah Zafar. And, at the stroke of the midnight hour on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his infamous "Tryst with destiny" speech, which marked India's emergence as an independent nation.

Red Fort


The President's House (Rashtrapati Bhawan) was initially built as the grand palace for the Viceroy of India. Completed in 1929, the first Viceroy to occupy the building was Lord Irwin; the last was Lord Louis Mountbatten. Today the grand structure is home to India's President, as well as the President's Secretariat.

President's House (Rashtrapati Bhawan)


The India Gate was built as a memorial to commemorate the 90,000 Indian soldiers killed in World War I. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (the chief architect of New Delhi), completed in 1931, and formally dedicated in 1941. The monument also houses the Amar Jawan Jyoti (Eternal Flame), a memorial to Indian soldiers killed in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

India Gate


The Indian Parliament meets in a uniquely circular building constructed between 1912 and 1913.

Parliament House

Other sites of interest in Delhi include an open-air observatory built by Jai Singh of Jaipur in the 1700's. The National Museum of India houses precious art treasures covering all periods of Indian history.

Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation

See Also

East India Company
Queen Victoria
Pandit Jawharlal Nehru
World War I

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The Robinson Library >> India >> Local History and Description

This page was last updated on August 07, 2018.