“Delhi means everything to me. This city has given me everything and I love it.”
Virat Kohli’s, India’s cricket captain, holds the national capital close to his heart. Not everyone though shares his passion.
Tina Turner came here in 2004 and was taken aback. “Delhi came as a shock. There were so many people, and oh, the traffic,” she said. Ten years on, Delhi has an even bigger population and oh, today’s traffic! I know what Tina is talking about
Delhi is a city of conflicting emotions. In my first few months I found myself having emotions on the opposite ends of the scale at exactly the same time. It was confusing to say the least. Over time, I’ve learned to embrace – and most importantly enjoy – the confusion that Delhi creates.
The city decides what it wants to do with me when it wants to do it. Fighting is futile. Sometimes, I think I’ve beaten the city. For a few short minutes, I’m a winner. My sense of satisfaction is only ever short lived. Delhi may lose the odd battle, but it always wins the war.
Here’s 10 facts about the city I found fascinating as a newcomer.
Delhi has been a seat of power for millennia – Delhi (aka Dilli) has been a seat of power since the dawn of time.
It’s said that the ancient site of Indraprastha (which translates as the city of heaven) was located where Dehliites live today. Delhi was the site of power for the Slave or Mamluk Dynasty and the Tughlak Dynasty, then came the Sayyids before the Lodihis took over.
After the Lodhis came the Mughal Empire. They started off in Delhi but after a time flirting with other cities, they returned to make Delhi their capital. After the Mughals faded the British took control and ruled from Calcutta (now Kolkata). But they too saw the strategic importance of Delhi and announced in 1911 that the new capital of British held territories in India would be built in Delhi
The rest they say is history. New Delhi, came into being on 13th February 1931 and it has been the capital of India ever since.
There’s been seven or eight cities in Delhi. Or is it 12? – Some say that Delhi has been the site of seven cities, others say it’s had eight cities. Others argue that there are now 12 cities, if Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gurugram (Gurgoan) are counted.
This great infographic from Delhi Tourism, chronicling Delhi from its very earliest incarnations right up to the present day, paints a great picture of what happened, when and to who.
An awful lot of people live here – In 1901 Delhi was a small town of around 400,000. At the last census, in 2011, a total of 16,787,941 people were counted in the city, up from 13,850,507 in 1991.
Today, depending on what you read, anywhere between 15 and 25 million people live here, making it the third biggest city in the world, behind Tokyo, Japan and Jakarta, Indonesia.
By 2030 the population is predicted to top 36 million. Yes, you did read that right.
A melting pot of people and cuisines – Multi-cultured and multi-lingual, Delhi pulls in people from all over the country.
With all its diversity Delhi isa mini India. This means Dilliwalahs have the chance to enjoy the traditions, customs and cuisines from the four corners of India without moving very far. How cool is that?
Keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter – Delhi’s climate is extreme.
In the summer it’s scorching hot. The temperature touches 45 degrees centigrade. In the winter it cools dramatically with the mercury falling to 5 degrees centigrade or even lower.
With an average rainfall of around 800mm per year water is a precious resource. The monsoon starts in late June and lasts until mid September, with July and August being the wettest months.
Traveling takes time – To shift 25 million people around a city is a tough job. Public transport provision is stretched and moving around can take a long time.
A fleet of more than 5,000 buses plying on over 750 routes, along with a world class metro service with five lines (with more on the way), ferry hundreds of thousands of folk on a daily basis.
On the roads there are over 90,000 auto rickshaws and around 80,000 taxis for hire, along with tens of thousands of cycle rickshaw pullers.In total, the number of vehicles registered on Dilli’s roads is 8.3 million. At the start of the 1980’s it was around half a million.
The average speed is slow.
You’ll never visit all Delhi’s historical buildings and sites – It’s not because they’re behind locked doors, but because there’s too many to see in a lifetime.
The big three, Humayun’s Tomb, The Red Fort Complex, and Q’tab Minar are all UNESCO World Heritage sites. Yet, there are many more monuments, tombs and other complexes across the city. INTACH, the India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, has recorded over 1,200 buildings of archaeological, historical and architectural importance.
Surely that’s enough to be getting on with?
Delhi’s economy is on the up – Delhi is home to some of India’s wealthiest residents. The per capita income of capital is nearly three times higher than the national average.
The Gross State Domestic Product in 2014 – 15 was 4,511,54 crore; a 15.35% increase over the previous year. A little note about lakhs and crores: The vedic numbering system is used in India. A lakh is 100,000. A crore is 10 million. Get it? You do. Great.
A fifth of the city is tree covered – Everyone needs a place to think.
In a city as busy as Delhi finding a quiet, green space to stop and stare is special. When you’ve found one deciding whether to share it or not is a big decision.
Green space is hard to find, but, believe it or not, the official statistics say that 20% of the total area of capital is covered by trees. And there are 42 city forests, along with parks and gardens.
Delhi is home to Asia’s biggest markets – The wholesale fruits and vegetable market at Azadpur is Asia’s largest. It boasts over 30,000 retail vendors.
Head on over to Khari Baoli Market in Old Delhi and there’s a constant stream of men lugging spices at Asia’s largest wholesale spice market.
And if your are up bright and early you can enjoy Ghaziphur Flower Market which, yes, you guessed it, is Asia’s largest flower market.
What else? As you would expect there’s plenty more useful (and useless) facts and figures to find out about. You’ll never been bored, bacause there’s always something new to learn.