From ‘Dilliwalas’ to ‘Delhiites’- a journey of 100 years!

I wrote this article for my college magazine 'Jhankaar' as part of the 100 year celebration of New Delhi as the capital of India. Take a look. Is this how you have always known Delhi?

Delhiites say that ‘dilli ka hawa pani different hai” and I agree. Once you move to Delhi, you neither like to stay at the place for long nor are you able to stay away from it. Because, for someone who has moved from any place of the country to this most rapidly growing and fast moving city, the experience is nothing less than ‘bliss’. Families have stayed here for generations and have seen the ever-changing city right from the time when Raisina Hill or Lutyen’s Delhi was the sole recognition of the capital. With the changing times, malls and multiplexes have taken the place of museums and monasteries and have changed the people’s perception of this historical city. The Delhiites love their city!

100 years ago, this face of New Delhi was no where to be found. The city of ‘Dilli’ was synonymous with the Chandni Chowk, the Red Fort, the Humayun’s Tomb and other such places of historical importance. Qutb Minar stood in a distant village called Mehrauli. Shahjahanabad was a small village somewhere in today’s North Delhi. And then the Britishers came and the landscape changed.

On December 12, 1911, at the Coronation Park in Kingsway Camp (now known as Guru Tegbahadur Nagar) King George V announced the shifting of India’s capital from Calcutta to a to-be-constructed ‘New’ Delhi. Nearly 20 years after that, on February 10, 1931, a sunny day after three days of rain and cloudy weather, Viceroy of India Lord Irwin formally inaugurated New Delhi at 11 am. The grand new capital was finally complete. The Viceroy’s House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), the North and South Blocks, the Council House (Parliament House) joined the Kingsway (Rajpath) and Central Vista at the end by the All India War Memorial (India Gate).

Hindustan Times in one of its article says about the development of the new capital as a people’s city: “Till the 1940s, New Delhi would turn into a ghost town after sunset and on holidays. Apart from houses for the top ranking officials and Princes, residences were not built in New Delhi. Those who came to work here would return to their homes in the Walled City (the Old Delhi area) or suburbs. The tide changed when, unable to cope with the congestion in ‘old Delhi’, its residents started moving south towards New Delhi. Those who came after Partition populated areas like Rajinder Nagar and Lajpat Nagar. Huge vacant land was allotted in the 1960s to families, which migrated from East Bengal in 1947. This area was called EPDP (East Pakistan Displaced Persons) colony that was later renamed Chittaranjan Park.”

The Delhi that we know today had its beginning in the 1910s itself. With the British Raj relocating to Delhi, it brought along officials and employees from all parts of the country. None of them were Dilliwallahs in the old sense but all of them made Delhi their own, creating the multi-ethnic Delhi of 2011 and became the Delhiites. 

So are you celebrating with Delhi, dear Delhiites?


  1. good one dear...wish I could see some photographs associated with the article to help me understand things well...any ways what you have written is something I could easily associate to easily...

  2. @Anonymous- Thanks :)
    I am looking for some nice pics and will put them up soon with this entry :)

  3. that's a lot of interesting things on Delhi.
    Qutub Minar in a distant village!! hard to believe na? now that it seems to be bang in the center of this pulsating city

    didn't know about EPDP at all!

    we in Bangalore miss this aspect - a history - colonial or otherwise & that's why Delhi fascinates me

    came here as you had voted for one of my posts
    glad i did :)

  4. @Sujatha- Many facets of Delhi that I have mentioned here, were unknown to me till a few months back. EPDP, GTB Nagar etc- I had no idea how they came to exist, never did I think that they might be having a history. It's good to know such interesting facts about our national capital.
    I am glad you liked it :)

  5. this is so true that delhi is a two edged sword!!
    even though i spent those 2 years like a life in jail..still i dream of being a part of a city sometym in my life..(probably PG..if luck permits)

    dilli is truely apt for a city like this..stays in the heart forever.:)
    happy bday delhi!!:)

  6. another brilliant post. i love ur narration. btw happy b'day

  7. @vartika- sure it does :)
    and those two years werent jail...:P :D
    @factsandnonsense- thank you :)
    glad you like it..:)


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