Hin: दिल्ली dillee

(National Capital Territory)

‘Dhilu’s City’

From Dhilu or Dilu a 1stC Mauryan king who ordered the city to be built and named after him.

Also: (1) The  12-13thC Tomara dynasty called the city Dhilla or Dhillika (Dhilli, Dihli or Dhilli), possibly  as an allusion to the ‘iron pillar’ constructed by Raj Dhava in the 3rd-4thC whose immovability was supposed to be a symbol of the permanence of his family’s rule. The pillar was more than a little bit wobbly [Hin: dhila], however, and the Tomaras named the city after it, in jest. (2) ‘Gateway (to India)’. From Skt: dehalih, ‘threshold’, ‘gateway’ [Hin: dahliz]. Presumably this was a gateway to the Gangetic plain and the rest of India. There were Tomara coins in circulation in the region called dehliwal.

It has been said that an Urdu poet finds hardly any difference between dil (heart) and Dilli (Delhi) because both have often been deserted and rehabilitated. In fact, Delhi has been deserted fourteen (and re-populated fifteen) times.

The city of Delhi has two parts: Old Delhi in the north and New Delhi, a new capital city built by the British in the 20thC, in the south. It sits on the banks of the River Yamuna, a tributary of the Ganges.

Delhi is now India’s second largest city (after Mumbai). If the satellite cities of Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar District) and Gurgaon are included, Delhi is at the centre of the largest urban agglomeration in India and the second largest in the world (after Tokyo).

Delhi National Capital Territory (NCT) is the city and union territory which contains New Delhi, the capital of India. Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) is an extended planning area which includes districts from neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi was Ghalib’s city. The great Urdu poem in a letter, mourned the loss of the city he knew after its destruction by the British in 1857:

“What do you ask? What  should I write ? Five things kept Delhi alive – the fort, Chandni Chowk, the daily crowds at the Jama Masjid, the weekly walk to the Yamuna Bridge, and the yearly fair of the flower-sellers. None of these survives, so how can Delhi survive? Yes there used to be a city of this name in the land of Hindustan.”

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