18 January, 2021

Inner Ring Road

A furious itinerancy extracts both past shadows and extant charms from Delhi's forgotten nooks and crannies

Inner Ring Road
Among all the major capitals in the world, Delhi could legitimately stake its claim—along with maybe Cairo and Rome—to be the most visibly historic. Monuments are scattered across its sprawl, and history speaks to you everyday, without ceremony, through ramparts, jharokhas and minarets. But it is perhaps precisely because of this proximity to antiquity that ‘Delhiites’ take history for granted. Ask someone who lives in Hauz Khas who built that monument and when, and nine out of ten times he or she would not know—or even worse—care to know. The same would apply to those who live in Safdarjung or Masjid Moth or anywhere else.

But historical Delhi has also a remarkably vigorous present. Few other cities in the world have grown so exponentially in such a short period of time. Until 1911, Delhi’s population was less than that of Lucknow, and beyond Ajmeri Gate there were only green fields. Until the mid-1950s Lodi Garden was the outermost periphery on the south side, and traffic lights were laughed at because there were hardly any...



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