The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article deals with the metropolis Delhi, which is India's National Capital Territory. For the capital of India see New Delhi.

Classification National Capital Territory
Country India
State Delhi
District Delhi District
Language Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and English,
Time zone GMT+5:30
Importance Capital of India, also known as the National Capital Region or NCR, Second largest metropolitan city in India, Industrial & IT Hub, Education center par excellence. Seat of government and influence

- Total
- Density
- Sex Ratio

13,850,507 (2001)[1]

Literacy Rate

- Total
- Male
- Female


Area 1483 km2
PIN 110 xxx
Lieutenant Governor Shri B L Joshi
Chief Minister Mrs. Sheila Dixit
Ruling Party INC
Major Political parties INC, BJP

Delhi (दिल्ली or Dillī in Hindi and Bengali and دیلی in Urdu) is a term that refers to either the State of Delhi or the National Capital Territory (NCT) of the Republic of India. In popular use, the term NCT includes several neighbouring areas in the adjoining states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The name Delhi originates from the Urdu/Hindustani word Dahleez (English: threshhold, or frontier). The people of Delhi are known as Delhiites or "Dilliwaalay". The latter is a historical and cultural term describing people of the old city and the associated diaspora. There are, for example, communities (often living in neighbourhoods dominated and named after them) of Dilliwaalay in major Pakistani cities who still identify their clan with neighbourhoods in the Old City of Delhi.

Delhi has the most vibrant history of any of the more prominent cities or towns of India. It has been the "capital of seven empires" in Indian history and as per the Archaeological Survey of India , has over 60,000 recognized monuments built over several millenia. Delhi was first referenced in the Indian epic Mahabharata as Indraprastha.

Economically, Delhi is one of the most affluent urban centers in India and is at the heart of India's largest consumer belt. As an indicator, Delhi has more cars plying its roads than India's other four 'metros', Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai combined and is widely considered to have the best transport and utilities infrastructure in the country. It has in recent years emerged as an entrepôt for multi-nationals and is the primary destination for FDI in India, particularly with the emergence of its suburbs Noida and Gurgaon as commercial and industrial centers in their own right. The nation's automobile, media and consumer goods industries have facilities in and around Delhi. There is also a strong showing by key knowledge-based industries in Delhi, particularly in the life sciences, telecom and the information technology arena. A preferred destination due to the quantity and high caliber of English speakers, Delhi and its suburbs account for over 30% of India's IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) exports--the second largest in the country (Bangalore accounts for 35%).

Delhi is a very cosmpolitan city due to the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural presence of the vast Indian bureaucracy and political system. From an international perspective, there are more than 160 embassies present and an ever increasing expatriate population.

Delhi derives its historic importance from its position in northern India, occupying a location between the Aravalli Hills to the southwest and the Yamuna river on whose western banks it stands. This enabled it to dominate the old trade routes from northwest India to the plains of the Ganges. As a result, it has always been an important cultural and intellectual center.

With a steadily increasing quality of life, a booming economy and consumer market and by virtue of the fact that it is the nation's capital, cultural and intellectual life in Delhi are burgeoning as well. Delhi also has a high standard in education. It is the home of three major educational institutions in India--namely the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University. Delhi also boasts of a great number of quality schools. Delhi is also home to a number of think tanks, museums, art galleries, parks and theaters.

Strictly defining Delhi's borders, it occupies an area of some 1,483 square kilometres (572 square miles) with a population of approximately 14 million (though with its suburbs it crosses well over 23 million). The principal spoken language is Hindi. Other common languages spoken are English, Urdu, and Punjabi.


Local politics

Delhi has always been a stronghold of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party). The trend started to change in the 1990s when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the leadership of Madan Lal Khurana came into power. Since Sheila Dikshit lead Indian National Congress(Congress Party) to power in December 1998 , she has remained in power.


Traditionally, Delhi is said to be the site of Indraprastha , capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata. A village called Indarpat existed in Delhi until the beginning of the 19th century.

Excavations have unearthed sherds of the grey painted ware (ca. 1000 BC) that some archaeologists associate with the age of the Mahabharata, but no coherent settlement traces have been found. Some locate Indraprastha in the Purana-Qila area.

The earliest architectural relics age back to the Mauryan Period (ca 300 BC), since then, the site has seen continuous settlement. In 1966, an inscription of the Mauryan King Ashoka (273-236 BC) was discovered near Srinivaspuri. The famous wrought iron pilar of Ashoka near the Qutb Minar was only manufactured in the Gupta-Period (AD 400-600) and transplanted to Delhi at some time in the 10th century. Two sandstone pillars inscribed with the edicts of Ashoka were later brought to the city by Firuz Shah Tughluq.

In the Prithvirajaraso, the Rajput Anangpal is named as the founder of Delhi. He is supposed to have constructed the Lal-Kot and brought the Iron Pillar to the city. The Rajput period is dated from ca. 900-1200. The name of Dhilli or Dhillika first appears in an inscription from 1170 from Udaipur. By 1316, it may have become the capital of Haryana. After 1206, Delhi was the capital of the Delhi Sultanate (Mameluk dynasty, Khilji dynasty , Tughluq dynasty, Sayyid dynasty and Lodhi dynasty).

The more recent city is believed to be made up of seven successive cities, the remains of some of which can still be seen on the ground. They are

  1. Qila Rai Pithora built by Prithvi Raj Chauhan , near the oldest Rajput settlement in Lal-Kot;
  2. Siri, built by Alauddin Khilji in 1303;
  3. Tughluqabad, built by Ghiyazudin Tughluq (1321-1325);
  4. Jahanpanah, built by Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325-1351);
  5. Kotla Firoz Shah, built by Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-1388);
  6. Purana Qila built by Sher Shah Suri and Dinpanah built by Humayun, both in the same area near the speculated site of the legendary Indra-Prastha (1538-1545); and
  7. Shahjahanabad, built by Shah Jahan from 1638 to 1649, containing the Lal Qila and the Chandni Chowk.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658) built the city that sometimes bears his name (Shahjahanabad), the seventh city of Delhi that is more commonly known as the old city or old Delhi. This city contains a number of significant architectural features, including the Red Fort (Lal Qila). The old city served as the capital of the later Mughal empire from 1638 onwards, when Shah Jahan transferred the capital from Agra. Aurangzeb (1658-1707) crowned himself as the emperor in Delhi in 1658 at the Shalinar garden ('Aizzabad-Bagh), a second coronation took place in 1659.

Delhi passed under British control in 1857 after the First War of Indian Independence and after Bahadur Shah Zafar II had been transported to Rangoon and became the Capital of British India in 1911 (formerly Calcutta). In the large scale rebuilding, parts of the Old City were pulled down to provide place for New Delhi.


A completed portion of the still-in-progress Delhi Metro.
A completed portion of the still-in-progress Delhi Metro.

Delhi is one Big turd of the largest markets in the country because the per capita income in Delhi is much higher than in other cities. Many multinational companies have set up their headquarters in Delhi and adjoining cities--from Pepsico and Gap, Inc to the zipper giant, YKK. On Christmas Day, 2002, the New Delhi Metro opened, running in the urban area. The metro should be completed by 2022.

Keeping pace with globalization, there are many discotheque and dance clubs--most of them located in 5-star hotels. Some of these are C.J.'s (Le Meridien), Annabelle's (The Hilton), Dubliner(Maurya Sheraton), Oasis (Hyatt Regency), Djinn's (Hyatt Regency) and My Kind of Place (Taj Palace). Other places include Shalom (Greater Kailash), Voda (Saket), Buzz (Saket), T'zers (Saket), Punjabi by Nature (Vasant Vihar) and Fabric (on the Gurgaon-Mehrauli road).

There are also a lot of modern restaurants in the city. One can find a wide array of cuisines, including Greek (It's Greek To Me in Safdarjung), Chinese, Thai, Italian (Olive Bar and Kitchen in Mehrauli), Mexican and American Food. Delhi also has alot of fast food restaurants, including Subway, Domino's, Pizza Hut and McDonald's.


Delhi by its variety, congestion, and large expanse is a transportation challenge. Delhi, however, has an advantage in terms of good infrastructure in the form of wide roads and decent railway and air connectivity.


Delhi roads are connected by Delhi Transport Corporation buses, and private buses, including chartered buses , White-line buses and Yellow-line buses .

Road Connectivity is mostly reliant on private vehicles. Delhi has the highest per capita vehicle in India.


Delhi has one of India's largest bus connectivity rates. The State-Owned Delhi Transport Corporation runs buses across the city. DTC buses are also supplemented with private buses in form of white line and yellow line buses.


Auto-Rickshaw forms a very important economic means of private transportation. Hiring an Auto in Delhi is very tricky as not many auto-drivers accept the standard meter charges. With the introduction of electronic meters, the tamperability of meters has been reduced and a stronger juristriction has forced more autos to comply with the Meter-based charging scheme.

Railway connectivity

Delhi was designed with a great deal of Railway connectivity. There are many railway station located with a great deal of connectivity with major parts of the city and the suburbs. The major stations connected through the trains are Hazrat Nizamuddin , New Delhi, Okhla , Pragati Maidan , Purani Dilli , Shahdara , Shakur Basti and Tilak Bridge .

One of the major local trains is the one that operates between Palwal station and Shakur Basti station.


The city is served by Indira Gandhi International Airport. The Airport is situated in the Southwestern corner of the City.

Educational institutions

Delhi, being the capital of the country attracts students from all over India. It has a number of government and private colleges offering quality education in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, arts, law and management. Some prominent educational institutes are :


  • Apeejay Education Society



Suburbs/Satelite cities around Delhi

Famous sites in Delhi

Famous people from Delhi


Markets in Delhi

External links


  • Y. D. Sharma, Delhi and its neighbourhood (New Delhi, Archaeological Survey of India 1990). -Historical architectural remains.
  • William Darlymple, The City of Djinns:A Year in Delhi

Last updated: 10-11-2005 04:49:19
The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy