Frankly speaking ,I was a bit apprehensive when I was moving to Delhi. Every city has some uniqueness to offer. Varanasi has tranquillity , Jaipur has royalty and Lucknow has culture. When I shifted to Delhi, I realized that I am in for a roller coaster ride. For Delhi has everything to offer ion a single platter.There is the tranquillity of the lotus temple and the Rajghat with the hustle and bustle of Chandni Chowk and Daryaganj. There are branded international shopping arcades like Connaught Place and good wayside markets like Sarojni and Janpath.There is the grandness of the History in Mehrauli and Red Fort as well as the beauty of modern architecture in Aerocity and the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi is a city which is complete within itself, modernization and culture, communal harmony and beauty of all sorts can be found here.It ia an example of oxymoron of the highest order.
The significance of Delhi in the culture and History of our nation can be traced far back. Delhi did not affect India only but it helped shape the History of the entire Eastern world. The city is said to be established by the pandavas,when Arjun burned the Khandav forest that once stood here and established his capital, known as Indraprastha. Indraprastha continues to be a cultural reference to Delhi to this day.Delhi has always been a centre of power since the times of the Guptas and the Mauryas .An iron pillar at Mehrauli in the Qutub complex has been reminding us of the victories of Samudragupta over his rivals and the stature that Delhi had enjoyed since ancient times.The pillar,which was established somewhere in the 1st century CE does not have a speck of rusting on it,a fact that has has been intriguing scientists for years and showcasing the engineering marvel of the Indians to the world. Other once beautiful structures, but now withered and somewhere lost in the pages of History are the madrasa of Alauddin Khilji and his grave.Both can be spotted in the Qutub complex. The beautiful Qutub Minar, started by Qutubuddin Aibak and completed by Iltutmish is the tallest free standing manmade tower of the ancient world.It is a perfect example of a minar,with “sunnats” or verses from the holy Quran written all over it.All in all,the beauty and the grandness of the Qutub complex is a mute witness to the rise and fall of the Mamluks,Tughlaqs,Khiljis and Lodhis,known today collectively as the Delhi Sultanate.Although Qutub Minar,built in honour of Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki,a sufi saint, reminds us of the second battle of Tarain in 1192CE,which established the Muslim rule in India,it also reminds us of the Battle of Panipat in 1526 CE,when Ibrahim Lodhi lost to Babur, establishing one of the most important dynasties of India,the Mughals.
With the advent of Mughals dawned a new phase in the history of Delhi, a period which has helped shape the present scenario of the city. The rule of Shahjahan is considered to be the golden period in the history of the Mughal Dynasty. Agra had been the capital of the Mughals since Babur’s time. Babur had deliberately shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra to mark the end of the Delhi Sultanate and the stat of the Mughals.It was Shahjahan who shifted the capital from Agra to Delhi once again. There are two theories which suggest why Shahjahan did this:one political and one emotional.The political reason sates that Shahjahan did so to increase his control on the Rajputanas of Rajasthan and Marathas and other sub-ordinate Muslim dynasties of the Deccan.The emotional one says that Shajahan lost interest in life after Mumtaz Mahal died during her 14th delivery. To divert his mind ,it is said that he wanted to leave the city where his beloved died. Whatever be the reason, the situation compelled him to return to the heart of India once again, bringing along with him the culture and taste of the Mughals which has since then stayed with Delhi and continues to be an integral part of it.
There is a very interesting story behind the spicy Mughlai food. It is said that when Shahjahan was having his capital Shahjahanabad built, which we know today as Chandni Chowk and “Purani Dilli”, his royal physician, the Hakim, had gone on Haj. By the time he returned from his pilgrimage, Shahjahanabad was on the verge of completion. Everyone was very excited except the the Hakim. He personally called Shahjahan and literally scolded him for building the new city near the Yamuna.According to him,the water of Yamuna was so polluted that the royal family’s digestion would get affected and everyone would get ill and eventually die. There was only one solution to this; eating a lot of spices to neutralize the effect of the hard water.But the spices had a lot heat within them and it would cause a lot of health problems. To neutralize the effect of these spices, the cooks were instructed to use a lot of ghee and oil so as to make the food digestible and lower the heat intake of the food. And that’s how the various cuisines like chicken do pyaaza, chicken makkhanni and many other things came into existence.
If you want to try these things, there can be no better place than Chandni Chowk. As the name suggests it was once the elite shopping centre in Delhi, the moonlight square. Now it is a food lover’s ultimate destination, serving the various delicacies of North India. If you are eating in Chandni Chowk,the famous “Dilli Ki Chat”should be definitely tried. These chats and golgappas are very tasty and the green and red chutneys added to them makes them even tastier. Chandni Chowk is really a whole new world within itself.The “Parathe waali gali” serves delicious parathas. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Delhi.
There is spirituality in Delhi. .There is tranquillity within the hustle and bustle of this city. Nizaamuddin Auliya,the Dargah of famous sufi saint is a major pilgrimage centre in Delhi.Located nearby is the Yogmaya temple,a famous place for goddess worship.Established by the Pandavas ,it is dedicated to the Goddess Yogmaya,a form of Goddess Durga.Both the Dargah and the temple are in close proximity and a major procession called the “Phoolwaalon ki Sair” takes place every year and is a symbol of communal harmony.Kalkaji,a temple dedicated to the goddess Kali, is another very famous temple in Delhi and people from far and wide come to worship the goddess during Navratris.The lotus temple is an architectural beauty and is a place of worship for the baha’i faith.The Devi Katyayani Temple in Chttarpur is an architectural marvel is its massiveness is a beauty to enjoy.It is one of the 51 shakti peeths situated all across the nation.The communal harmony of this city is an integral part of its culture and is a major factor in shaping the Delhi the way it is.
Delhi was, is and shall always be an oxymoron. It has traditions and modernity, communal harmony,food and festivals and numerous other things entwined in a garland of grandeur,waiting to adorn those who come to have a tryst with this ever changing,ever moving city,unique and special in its own way.