Delhi: Red Fort to Raisina tells the fascinating story of Delhi – one of the world’s oldest cities where empires rose and fell. It is a city of mysterious eternity, whose old ruins seem to evoke a glorious past and whose present pulsates vibrantly with the ever-flowing life of India. It is now a hundred years, when the British shifted the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Celebrating the centenary of this historic event, the book traces Delhi’s journey from 1638, when the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built Red Fort and Shahjahanabad to New Delhi, the new capital of the British-ruled India since 1911. Though there seems no affinity between the ‘garden city’ of New Delhi and the 17th century ‘Old Delhi’, yet when one looks deeper, Shahjahan’s city and the British capital were both the result of a passion for building: both imperial in scale and designed to awe.
With four essays on different aspects of Delhi’s history, written by eminent scholars, the book is a lively portrait of the city – of its culture and people. And also a unique chronicle of the transition of the old-world charm of Shahjahanabad to a modern city with a new seat of power built on Raisina Hill – carrying narratives about the lives of Delhi’s inhabitants, their shops, bazaars, and cuisine; the flourishing world of poets and musicians, mystics and saints; and the festivals that different communities celebrated. The book is a veritable amalgam of exquisite drawings, plans, and historic photographs of Delhi, which document the city’s monuments and structures, and record for the first time the growth of a topographical school of artists. All in all, it is an engaging narrative of Delhi’s journey from Red Fort (1638) to Raisina Hill (1911 and beyond).
J.P. Losty: formerly Curator-in-charge of the extensive Indian visual collections in the British Library, London, has written extensively on varied aspects of painting of India: from the 12th to 19th centuries.