It’s been three weeks since I have had this Dilli seated in black and white on my desktop screen. To me it was as Delhi as it gets. I LOVE it! Today, at my cousin’s place, my uncle who’s lived in Delhi almost all his life seemed to differ. He thought it could be made more readable. Google results for my image search revealed another attempt by the INTACH guys that seems to have been abandoned now (and no surprise at that). Thinking of how much could this brilliant image be screwed with, I came ahead and together, we gave it a shot on photoshop. And our Dilli appeared. The tittle on the ‘i’ made prominent. d-i-l-l-i: clearer than the previous version. The word appears a little more indigenous than exotic in my opinion and rings Delhi 6 more than Shahjahanabad in my head (but that’s my opinion). What do you guys think? Which one do you like better? Take either of the images and share with us your own version (until someone from INTACH chances upon this article and asks us to remove all this enthusiastic guerrilla dilliness). Until then!
According to Devdutt Patnaik’s retelling of the Mahabharata, in an attempt to make peace between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, blind king Dhritarashtra gave the Pandavas the forest of Khandava-prastha. On Krishna’s advice, the five brothers invoked the fire god Agni and burnt the forest to the ground, slaughtering all living things -trees, herbs, grass, animals, birds, nagas, asuras- so that no one could lay claim to the land on a later date.
Only one survived: the asura Maya, architect of the demons. He begged the Pandavas to spare his life; in exchange, he would build for them the greatest city in all of Bharat: Indra-prastha.
The modern city of Delhi, is, of course, said to be on the ruins of this very Indraprastha.
Quite an impressive legacy.
On a side note, from the Online Etymology Dictionary:
Delhi, city in India, of unknown origin, perhaps connected to Hindi dehli “threshhold,” with reference to the watershed boundary between the Ganges and Indus, which is nearby.
I found one source on the web which contemplates whether this threshhold might have been the door to India, or whether it was meant to represent the outskirts of the same Indraprastha. Delhi then would be a suburb which grew bigger than the mother city.