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#17 The Resilience of Old Delhi (Old Delhi Series)

0 Through the centuries, Old Delhi has endured countless upheavals – from war sieges to urbanisation. Tracing its history reveals a city that has persevered despite challenges that destroyed many contemporaries.  Old Delhi has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, survived bloody sieges, and adapted to countless rulers over its long history. For centuries it has been destroyed and rebuilt, changing with the ages. Old Delhi was ravaged by wars, plundered by invaders, torn apart during Partition, and strained under rapid urbanisation.  But like a phoenix rising from ashes, the old city has resurrected itself time and again. Though its monuments crumbled and culture blended with new influences, Old Delhi never lost its enduring spirit. Through resilience built over centuries, it continues to thrive as a city that reflects the old and new. Surviving Sieges and Sackings  Old Delhi faced bloody sieges through mediaeval era ruler rivalries. Do you know the 1303 Mongol siege led by Alauddin Khilji left thousands dead and over 100 mosques destroyed?  You’ll be shocked that during the 1857 Uprising, the British recaptured Delhi after prolonged fighting that ravaged the city. Old Delhi bore deep battle scars but resurrected.   Not only that but the city revived after the political upheavals of Partition too when Delhi was divided. Old Delhi’s spirit of resilience shone through the rubble. Adapting to Political Change As the capital shifted between kingdoms, Old Delhi adapted to changing power equations.  Do you know the seat of power moved between Mehrauli, Siri and Tughlakabad before returning to Shahjahanabad under the Mughals?  You’ll be surprised how Old Delhi’s character underwent a cultural fusion mirroring shifting political influences – from Rajput and Islamic to Mughal and European trademarks. From Shahjahanabad to British Delhi, the old city flowed with the tide of history. Surviving Urbanisation Onslaught  Post-Independence, Old Delhi saw its walls and gates demolished to accommodate growing populations.  Do you know the moat around the Red Fort was filled up for the railway line constructed in the mid-1800s? You’ll be amazed how amidst modernization pressures, the old city retains its symbolic heart – the lively Chandni Chowk market. For over seven centuries, Old Delhi has withstood the inexorable churn of time. This tenacious spirit remains its cornerstone today as development exacts its price.  Yet if one looks closely, the essence of purani Dilli lives on in its people, food, and dialect – unafraid of change and ready to absorb it into its age-old fabric.

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