Delhi is a city that 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 times the city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Interestingly, a number of Delhi's rulers played a dual role, first as destroyers and then as creators.
The history of the city is as old as the epic Mahabharata. The town was known as Indraprastha, where Pandavas used to live. In due course eight more cities came alive adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora, Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad.
Delhi has been a witness to the political turmoil for over five centuries. It was ruled by the Mughals in succession to Khiljis and Tughlaqs. In 1192 the legions of the Afghan warrior Muhammad of Ghori captured the Rajput town, and the Delhi Sultanate was established (1206). The invasion of Delhi by Timur in 1398 put an end to the sultanate; the Lodis, last of the Delhi sultans, gave way to Babur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal Empire. The early Mughal emperors favoured Agra as their capital, and Delhi became their permanent seat only after Shah Jahan built (1638) the walls of Old Delhi.
From Hindu Kings to Muslim Sultans, the reins of the city kept shifting from one ruler to another. The soils of the city smell of blood, sacrifices and love for the nation. The old 'Havelis' and edifices from the past stand silent but their silence also speaks volumes for their owners and people who lived here centuries back.
In the year 1803 AD, the city came under the British rule. In 1911, British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi.
Modern Delhi, popularly known as Lutyens' Delhi, bears a striking contrast to Old Delhi with respect to architecture, building materials and layout. However, Modern Delhi itself dates back to over a century when the British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. New Delhi, as it is known today, designed by Lutyens, has wide-open lanes, avenues and buildings that are worth traveling across the globe for.
After independence in 1947, New Delhi was officially declared as the Capital of India.