Tag Archives: Delhi history

New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!

In 1988 Lutyen’s Delhi, was declared a heritage zone by prohibiting building activity within the 26 square kilometre area out of the 43 Sq. Km. area that falls within the civic control of New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC). A move has now been initiated to get the entire area declared a World Heritage site.

The very logic of an area being declared a Heritage Zone should preclude any interference with the layout and design of the entire zone. Non-interference also means that, future building and development activity, if at all permitted, has to conform to the original parameters of design, materials, fittings and fixtures used, building techniques, landscaping and the kinds of trees planted in the heritage zone.

Even before the 1988 freeze on construction, there was a master plan for Delhi and it clearly identified the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone as an area where high rises were not to be permitted.

The actual violations began when this rule was selectively relaxed beginning with permission given in the mid 70s to construct the high rise Sagar Apartments on Tilak Marg. High rises like Asha Deep and Dakshineshwar on Hailey Road followed shortly thereafter. Continue reading New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!

From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

Amidst the cacophony of celebrating 100 years of Delhi, several details seem to have escaped the attention of our ever vigilant media, both print and electronic. This post is to draw your attention to a few of these ‘details’ in an attempt to place the celebrations in what appears to this author to be the correct perspective.

The 12th of December, 2011, can not by any stretch of imagination be described the centenary of Delhi, because there were at least 7 Dehlis before New Delhi came up, in fact 9 Dehlis if one were to add Kilokhri and Kotla Mubarakpurpur, Dehlis in their own right, to the generally accepted list of Qila Rai Pithora, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahan Panah, Firozeshah Kotla, Din Panah or Sher Garh or Purana Qila and Shahjahanabad. All of these came up at different times from the  11th century to the 17th century and all of these were more than a 100 years ago.

All that the 12th of December 2011 can claim to be the centenary of, therefore, is New Delhi. Let us look at even that claim a little more closely. What exactly transpired on the 12th of December 1911 that is causing so much excitement a 100 years later? Continue reading From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

Who is a Dilliwala?

Chhat Puja at India Gate, Delhi. Photo credit: S. Subramanium / The Hindu

For most residents of New Delhi, the region known as Old Delhi falls within the realm of the unknown. Aside from business people and those who earn a living inside the walled city only a few from outside the walled city used to venture into, what is derisively called Dilli 6. At least this was the picture till very recently.

With the introduction of the Metro entry into and exit from the heart of the city, it has become less daunting. More and more people from outside the “walled city area” have begun to tentatively explore the narrow winding lanes of Shahjahanabad. Except for those who come to explore ‘history and heritage’ and their numbers are small, consisting mostly of fair skinned tourists, most others arrive to explore the fabled flavours of the street food of Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad to give the place its correct name.

Continue reading Who is a Dilliwala?

The Khirki and the Begumpur Mosques

This is to be read as a sequel to my earlier post, A Tale of Two Mosques.

First published in Landmark. Photographs by DEVNDRA CHAUHAN. Credit for the map drawings: NITIN SAINI.

The east gate of the Begumpur mosque
The east gate of the Begumpur mosque

With the exception of Humayun’s tomb, and it is an exceptional structure, I have up to now stuck to my brief of talking about lesser known monuments of Delhi and will hopefully continue doing so as long as some monuments continue to exist incognito or till I am told to layoff. Considering that some of the readers have reacted favourably to my output I hope to continue to tread on what used to be a lonely trail.

Of late I have discovered fellow travellers on my jaunts, this path is no longer as lonely as it was when I began to see them in my teens in the company of my father who had strayed into archaeology from furniture designing, interior decoration and draughtsmanship. Continue reading The Khirki and the Begumpur Mosques

A Tale of Two Mosques

Kalan Masjid all dressed up
Kalan Masjid all dressed up

Ferozeshah Tughlaq (1351-1388), the last significant ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, built his capital of Ferozabad on the banks of the river Yamuna. The ruins of the city, that came to be called Ferozeshah Kotla in later centuries, are located behind the Indian Express building and the perpetually under-renovation Ferozeshah Kotla Cricket grounds that derive their name from this 5th capital at Delhi. Continue reading A Tale of Two Mosques

The Old Fort

(First published in Landscape. Photographs by HIMANSHU JOSHI.)

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The South Gate as seen from within the fort. This became the back drop for the staging of Tughlaq

The Old Fort, popularly known as Puraana Qila, was known to both the Author of Asaar-us-Sanadeed- Syed Ahmad Khan and the author of Waqeyat-e-Daar-ul-Hukoomat Dehli- Bashir Ahmad as Qila-e-Kuhna. The three terms Old Fort, Puraana Qila and, Qila-e-Kuhna mean exactly the same thing, The first is English, the last is Persian and the second is Urdu. Somehow the Hindi equivalent Pracheen Durg has never been in use despite the popular, though as yet historically unsubstantiated claim that this is the site of the legendry Indraprasth or Inderpat built by the mythological Pandavas. Continue reading The Old Fort