The capital of India blends a historical past and a vibrant present. Great monuments stand beside crisp new residential areas. Legend has it that Delhi, and then called Indraprastha was originally founded around 1200 B.C. by the Pandavas. Some believe that the name of the city has been derived from the Persian word, “Dahleez”, meaning the threshold or the Gateway. It is also probable that Delhi was named after Raja Dilhi, the King of Kanauj in the 8th Century A.D. Finally it was believed that this old walled city was built by the Mughals.
Architecture During the Sultanate Period
On the whole the buildings of the Turkish rule were massive, magnificent and imposing. The main buildings built in Delhi were:
v Qutab Minar – It is named after the famous Muslim saint, Qutab-ud-din Ush. The construction was started in 1199 A.D. by Qutab-ud-din Aibak and was completed by Illtutmish in 1230 A.D. This marvelous tower sowering 73 metres high, is a major landmark of Delhi. Tourists visiting Delhi are bound to take a glance of it. It has 5-storeys, the first three made of red sandstone and the other two of marble and sandstone. It has many inscriptions inscribed on it inner walls.
v Tughlaqabad – Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq built this imposing old Fortress of the Tughlaqs in the 14th Century. The huge Citadel is not crumbling and desolate, identifiable only by its massive earth like walls, which are stark and powerful. This tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din is situated inside it. It has 13 Gates.
Architecture reached its height of glory during the Mughal period because the Mughals were great builders. Their buildings were massive and had delicacy and ornamentation. They were:
v Humayun’s Tomb – It stands on a raised platform in the center of a park. It is made of marble and sandstone. Its shape and design are Persian in nature.
v Jama Masjid – It is the last of the buildings constructed by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. It is made of red sandstone and white marble. The vast courtyard of 400 square meters is reached by a flight of steps. The marble slab represents a seat for the royal people, whereas the square sandstone slabs are for the common man.
v Purana Quila – This fort rises on a small hill Majestic in conception.
Its massive walls are pierced by three imposing Gateways. It is believed to have been built by Sher Shah Suri.
v Red Fort – The mark of Delhi, the Red Fort derives its name from the red sandstone from which it is built. Shaped like an irregular octagonal, the fort is about 2 Kms in circumference. One enters the fort by the Lahore Gate. On one marble wall of this Fort is an inscription in Persian that says, “If on earth there is a Paradise of Bliss, it is this, it is this, it is this”.
Rajput Contribution towards Architecture
The main buildings built by Rajputs in Delhi are:
v Jantar Mantar – Set amidst a Garden of Stately palm, Mirza Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, a keen Astronomer, built these masonry instruments. The Samrat Yantra or the Supreme instrument is the largest and is shaped like a Right-Angled Triangle. It is actually a huge Sundial. The other five instruments are intended to indicate the movements of the Sun, the Moon and other Celestial bodies. It also helps to forecast eclipses, etc.
British Contribution towards Architecture
Britishers did not lag behind in contributing to Delhi’s architecture. The last Delhi, today’s New Delhi dates back to the British period. Chief Architects were Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Henry Baker. The center of this city is the long Vista stretching from the triumphal arch of India Gate up the stately avenue of the Raj Path, to Raisima Hill and the splendor of Rashtrapati Bhawan. Just off the Raj Path is the great circular colonnaded Parliament House. The whole composition is perfectly proportional and affords a most pleasing view of the city.
These monuments reflect the history of various times. Delhitoday is an attractive tourist destination for people from all over the world.