LUTYENS, EDWIN Edmund Lutyens, the Edwardian architect who designed New Delhi than a century ago, envisioned it as a majestic imperial city capable of competing with Washington or Paris. Sixty years after the Raj's demise, India's influence has begun to match his goal for its capital. Today, Delhi is a sprawling metropolis that contains many modern buildings but also has ancient monuments and that was once the center of an empire.
The city is built on a series of elevated plains known as "maidans", which were originally forested but now consist mostly of open fields used for farming. The maidan on which the Indian Parliament sits is the most prominent example.
Delhi was founded in 1526 by Shah Jehan, who wanted to make himself a new Babylon. He hired architects from all over Europe and the Middle East to design buildings for him to live in. Only two of these buildings still stand today: Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in Asia) and Fatehpuri Mosque (one of the few examples of Islamic art in India).
During British rule, the city was expanded beyond its boundaries, taking in land that belonged to other parts of India. This led to disputes with the government in Calcutta, which had not been consulted about this decision. However, Delhi was eventually able to take in all of the land it had claimed.
The British were resolved to relocate India's capital from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Delhi in 1911, and a three-member committee was created to design the construction of the new administrative center. Sir Edwin Lutyens was the committee's main architect; it was he who shaped the city. The other members of the committee were John R. Billings and Henry Lindsay Oakley.
Delhi was originally a small town near the banks of the River Yamuna. Under the British, it became one of the largest cities in the world without ever being officially declared as such by the government. By the time that the Indian Republic was established in 1950, Delhi had already become a major political hub. But despite its size, it still lacks many basic amenities, especially water supply.
In 2011, over 14 million people lived in Delhi city limits, and this number is expected to double by 2050. The urban area is home to more than 21 million people.
Delhi was not always a big city. It began as a small village on the eastern edge of the ancient kingdom of India. Over the years, it grew into an important trading center before becoming the capital of the vast British Empire. When the British pulled out after World War II, Delhi fell into disarray. There were mass protests against the removal of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi, but it wasn't until 1951 that the government decided to build a new capital from scratch.
After the country earned independence on August 15, 1947, New Delhi, also known as Lutyens' Delhi, was formally designated as the capital of the Union of India. It is a metropolitan city and the political headquarters of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.
The city has been described as "a treasure house of architectural beauty" and "the largest urban garden in Asia". It is also regarded as one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Delhi has been ranked at number 11 in The World's Most Liveable Cities by Australian research group Livability.com.au. The survey considered factors such as safety, health care, education, environment and infrastructure when ranking cities around the world.
When India became independent in 1947, it was not easy for Delhi to become the new nation's capital. At that time, Delhi was a small town with less than 1 million people, which made it hard for it to service all the needs of the government. The decision was therefore made to divide the national capital into two separate cities - Delhi and Islamabad - so that each could have its own identity and not be dominated by the other.