The City of Delhi
The city of Delhi, or Old Delhi (1991 pop. 7,175,000), on the Yamuna River, adjoins New Delhi in the east central part of the state and is a commercial center. It was enclosed by high stone walls erected in 1638 by Shah Jahan. Within the walls he built the famous Red Fort—so called for its walls and gateways of red sandstone—that contained the imperial Mughal palace. The fort remained a military garrison until 2003. In the palace is a public audience hall (Diwan-i-Am), where the splendid Peacock Throne stood, and a private audience hall (Diwan-i-Khas), built entirely of white marble and bearing the apt inscription "If there is a heaven on earth, it is this!" Shah Jahan also built the Jama Masjid [great mosque], one of the finest in Islam. Just south of the fort, on the Yamuna's bank, is Rajghat, where the bodies of Mohandas Gandhi and of India's prime ministers have been cremated; it is now one of the most revered shrines in India. In the northwest, beyond the old walls, is the Univ. of Delhi.
The present city of Old Delhi did not become important until Shah Jahan (for whom it was sometimes called Shahjahanabad) made it the capital of the Mughal empire in 1638. It was sacked (1739) by the Persian Nadir Shah, who carried off the Peacock Throne. The city was held by the Marathas from 1771 until 1803, when the British took it. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 it was held for five months by the rebel soldiers. Delhi Cantonment was (1912–31) interim capital of India until New Delhi was officially inaugurated.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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