chapter  7
12 Pages

Recovering an Urban Past

From a city entirely contained within its walls and with a dense organic fabric, Delhi had spread to several miles beyond, including in its boundaries the magnificent new capital complex of New Delhi. With narrow winding lanes, mansions with large courtyards, and dense clusters of smaller dwellings, Delhi’s urbanism, until the middle of the nineteenth century, had a legible formal character, a grand palace, glittering bazaars, vibrant squares, streets lined with hawkers and vendors, and a multitude of mosques, temples, and tombs. Outside the walls were villages, estates, orchards, and gardens that supported the intensity of urban life within. After the East India Company’s conquest of the city in 1803, the Mughal emperor remained a titular head until the British Imperial rule was established in 1857. Early British influence had brought a church, infantry barracks, and some large houses in the northern and eastern parts of the city. Yet, despite these changes, dramatic transformations in the space and culture of the city did not take place until the latter half of the nineteenth century.