A Information to Re-discovering Delhi by means of Maps


The very best half about residing in a metropolis like Delhi is that even if you happen to can’t journey for some time, its heritage buildings, markets bustling even throughout a pandemic, sprawling inexperienced areas and uncyclable roads will hold the itinerant thirst quenched (as shameless facet be aware, learn Aman Nath’s ode to the historic character of contemporary Delhi). However after about two months of our stepping up our buying routines, strolling excursions and excursions, and thronging its famed markets with watchful derring-do, the pandemic appears to be rearing its spiky-bob head once more. With the second wave (or third, based mostly on what paper you learn) right here and the AQI worsening, our little makes an attempt at riot should wait.

However these of us who waste no time in in search of consolation in books, previous images—and classic maps—don’t have it so onerous, as I realised, leafing by means of Pilar Maria Guerrieri’s beautiful 2017 hardback Maps of Delhi. Naturally, I let myself be carried away and sought out the esoteric circles of the cartography cult that the web affords us. It’s enjoyable discovering that the noisy village within the underbelly of your fancy residential locality existed when the latter was nonetheless a subject half a century in the past. It’s thrilling to secretly hope to call your future café Delly/Delli—the model most pre-19th century maps have. Right here’s a curated listing of sources filled with maps from Delhi’s previous.

The 1955 topographic map by the US Military
Delhi and arounds in a 1955 map by the US army

This actually in depth and extremely legible map covers the expanse often called the Nationwide Capital Area today, bordered by the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This map, produced by the US Military in 1955, is a part of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Assortment of the College of Texas Libraries—simply one of many a whole lot of maps of locations all around the world, from Malawi to Malta and Bijapur to Kabul. On the Delhi map, the parts finished in yellow denote populated areas on the time the map was produced (entry the entire map right here).

Whereas we’re at it, phrase of appreciation for this assortment made obtainable by the College of Texas—it’s simply spectacular. It’s the sort of stuff that makes you are feeling grateful. Even if you happen to’re not a lot of a map-reader, you possibly can deal with these as artwork. Go forward and print them out—they should go up in your wall.

Delhi area, from a map revealed in 1863 in The Weekly Dispatch
The Delhi region as it appeared in The Weekly Dispatch, London, circa 1863
On this map that appeared over 100 and fifty years in the past, it’s fascinating to find NCR cities and villages and Delhi suburbs even if you happen to might not see New Delhi. To somebody like me, these locations appeared to exist solely in a post-Twentieth-century actuality, with their quasi-urban character and intriguing underbelly notion. The very best half is mouthing the amusing British-style spellings and imagining how they could have mentioned ‘Shahderuh’ as an alternative of Shahdara, ‘Bulubgurh’ and ‘Buhadoorgurh’ as an alternative of Ballabhgarh and Bahadurgarh!

This map is a part of a devoted web page Columbia College has for maps of Delhi, which is in flip part of Professor Emerita Frances W Pritchett’s website on South Asian research. The web page has maps on Delhi’s fast environs from the 1901 Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in India, Burma and Ceylon, one of many Imperial Delhi that Lutyens had envisioned, and a historic illustration of the realm in the course of the Sultanate age. My favorite on this assortment of maps is that this vibrant, neatly drawn map of the walled metropolis of Shahjahanabad, full with the person precincts and gates.

Shahjahanabad, the old walled city of Delhi

Mapping by means of empires – The Yamuna River Mission by The College of Virginia
This collection is sort of not like the remainder of the collections we’re discussing right here. Because the identify signifies, YRP traces the historical past of Delhi by means of a collection of maps depicting the rule of various dynasties all through historical past, with a particular deal with the river Yamuna, nearly a forgotten, much-older sibling of the historic metropolis itself. The collection of maps strikes in a chronological order, starting with Tomar rule, then the Chauhan dynasty, the momentous reign of the Ghurid dynasty, and the next eras of the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Lodis, the Mughals and so forth. Nonetheless, as we earlier mentioned, the undertaking’s focus is to hint the position of the river Yamuna in Delhi’s evolution by means of the course of a millennium, “revitalise its ecology” and ultimately reconnect “India’s capital metropolis again to the water”. Verify the collection out right here.

The walled city and its waterways

The Seven Cities of Shajahanabad
Sarmaya, the net museum, has an enchanting assortment of studying sources, and their maps on Delhi level in the direction of the customarily forgotten historical past of the nationwide capital. Within the map (dated 1803) beneath, one can see the layouts of the smaller, historical sub-cities inside Delhi–all of them present individually as Jahanpanah, Hauz Khas, Outdated Delhi, Shahjahanabad and Tughlukabad. Additionally see their map exhibiting the plan of the quelling of the 1857 mutiny. 

Broad layouts of the Seven Cities of Delhi (cartographer: Thacker, Spint & Co.); circa 1928

Illustrated Map of Delhi by Vandana Singh
We shut our listing with a enjoyable entry–this illustrated map of town by filmmaker and artist Vandana Singh.

The Illustrated Map of Delhi by Vandana Singh (for Delhipedia)

Peppered with timber of every kind, town’s heritage buildings, iconic buildings, avenues, and particular person localities/neighbourhoods demarcated properly, this map is a traditional train in how illustrated maps can go a great distance in making map-reading simpler, set up a visible join between explorers and locations, and even set off curiosity in biodiversity conservation, like within the case of the viral Biodiversity Map of Odisha. We did our personal illustrated stroll by means of Outdated Delhi and you may test it out right here.


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