Most of us know that Delhi is celebrating its centenary this year..Not that Delhi had no existence more than hundred years before .It is an ancient city.Even during Mahabharata days ,Delhi was very much there.It was then known as Indraprastha,the capital of the Pandavas.I am not a historian and therefore not writing this piece from a historian's perspective.I am writing it as an ordinary citizen of this grand city,which has been home to me for more than seventy years. I have seen Delhi growing along with me since my childhood.
It was 12th December, 1911.On this day King George V gave a
surprise to the Delhites.He declared,"We are pleased to announce that on the advice of our ministers tendered after consultation with our Governor-General in Council, we have decided upon the transfer of the seat of the Government of India from Calcutta to the ancient capital Delhi...."The construction work was assigned to Lutyens and Baker,architects. Several sites were considered for the location but . finally a decision was taken to acquire the Raisina Hill in the Raisina village.(I read in the news paper that some of the descendants of the original owners are claiming compensation from the Government.)It took twenty years to complete the New Delhi area like Rashtrapati Bhawan,India Gate, North and South Blocks and Parliament House.
I have vivid memories of Delhi,as a child. Delhi ,at that time was restricted to Cannaught Place,and Rajpath areas.This area was known as New Delhi.Then there was Old Delhi,comprising Chandni Chowk,Fatehpuri and Sadar Bazaar For .shopping we used to go Chandni Chowk.There were no Karol Bagh or Sarojini Nagar markets. People used to be scared to go beyond Cannaught Place after sunset because these places were either jungles or agricultural land.We used to stay in Todar Mal Road.I remember that sometimes when we used to go to Kutub Minar, we used to cross Yusaf Sarai, which was an ancient village.It was as if we used to go out of station.After the partition of India in 1947 there was a complete transformation of Delhi. There was an incredible influx of displaced persons. It was during this period that expansion of Delhi took place.To rehabilitate such a massive outburst of humanity, a special Ministry was formed,which was aptly named Ministry of Rehabilitation.Several colonies like Patel Nagar, Lajpat Nagar,Kingsway Camp and many other housing complexes were built on an emergency basis.Several colonies were constructed for Government employees.The result was that Punjabi culture became predominant.
Delhi is an ancient city which has a mythological and historical past. It is built on the banks of River Yamuna,which is a holy river.I don't know whether it is a myth or reality but people believe that Lord Krishna used to have his 'leelas' on the shores of the river. East Delhi ,therefore is known as 'PunyaBhoomi. Kutub Minar is a pre-Mughal monument.Mughal Emperors built many buildings which are of historical importance.The Red Fort, Jama Masjid,Humayun' tomb and many more buildings came up at this time.They are an exquisite sample of architecture.