A great start to travel India – Delhi; the main international hub which is full of history, culture, Persian, Hindi, Sikh and British influence so an amalgamation of architecture, infrastructure and of course food. However, it comes at a price, the smells, the dirt, the homeless, the chaotic driving but still something you have to experience…
Its one of the first times in my life I’ve really appreciated the importance of history, as when I was studying I preferred Geography but when you begin to see and understand what happened thousands, if not millions, of years ago makes us who we are today, you feel the significance. Here’s a little introduction into the history of Delhi, thanks to our guide Manish:
1) Delhi is now 2nd most populated city in the world with almost 24 million citizens, behind Shanghai, and India is the second largest population of Muslims behind Indonesia.
2) Delhi can be broadly divided into three parts; New Delhi, Old Delhi & Delhi.
3) New Delhi is the part built by British between 1912-1931.
4) Old Delhi was built-in 17th century by Shahjahan, the 5th king from Mughal dynasty, who also built Taj Mahal.
5) The part which was developed by India after Independence is known as Delhi.
6) New Delhi is the area where Members of Parliament, Ministers, High Ranking government officials and the wealthy reside.
7) Old Delhi was a walled city with 14 gates but most of the gates are now gone, only six remain, and most of the walls were destroyed by the British.
8) In Delhi, you see the symbol of ‘Swastika’ which dates back to Aryans , who invaded India between 1500-2500 BC, and means ‘well being’. Crazy how the right-facing 45 degree version used by Hitler means the complete opposite. The north Indians are mainly the descendants of Aryans.
9) Muslims started coming to India right after Islam was born in the Arab world. The initial expedition of the earlier Muslim invaders were purely driven by economic reasons, as India was one of the richest country’s in the region in those days.
10) In 12th Century, Muhammad Ghori was the first Muslim who came to Delhi from Afghanistan, with the intentions of spreading Islam and ruling the Indian state.
11) Initially he was defeated by the Indian ruler but he attacked again and this time managed to defeat the Indian ruler and established the Muslim rule in India.
12) Muslims ruled from 12th Century till almost 18th Century, after them it was British who ruled India.
13) Mughals were the last Muslim dynasty to rule India, they were a mix of Mongols and Turkish blood.
14) The first Mughal Ruler was Babur, he came to India in 1526 AD. Humayun was Babur’s son and second Mughal ruler.
15) Bahadur Shah Zafar II was the last Mughal king of India. The British held him responsible for the Mutiny of 1857 and killed his two grandsons and one Son. They put him in jail with his queen in Myanmar (Burma) where he died in 1862 AD.
So that’s the history and cultural introduction the rest you really have to just experience for yourself…
Tomb Mahatma Ghandi
Spice Market by Rickshaw
Mutton Rogan Josh – Lamb
We also visited the spice market which is a way of life for Indians: Teas, Spices, Nuts and Herbs, is used in everything from food to shower gels and hits you at every street corner, every guest house and every meal. Both local and imported (nuts) products are found here as historically such an important trade for them…one shop in particular was established in 1917 and now has their fourth generation master blender, MEHAR CHAND AND SONS, ESTABLISHED, Anshu will be happy to show you around…
Spice Market – Pepper
So that’s my introduction to Delhi – it’s always nice to start with the culture and sightseeing as then you truly begin to understand the community. After that, it’s all about getting stuck in: meet the locals, taste the local delicacies, ride a rickshaw, drink the chai, wonder the bazaar and enjoy the rain!
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” – Anonymous