Coupon Accepted Successfully!


Inside the Old City

Shahjahanabad was a well planned city with canals that brought fresh drinking water to all homes. The city also had excellent drainage system. Wells also provided water to the households.

  • The well planned network of water supply and drainage systems were totally neglected in the 19th century.
  • The beautiful city of Shahjahanabad was now a city of over flowing drains and stench.
  • The over populated city was now in a very bad condition.
  • The Delhi Municipal Committee was unwilling to spend money on a good drainage system in the old city though millions of rupees were being spent on drainage systems in the New Delhi area.

                                                The Decline of Havelis



The Mughal aristocracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries lived in havelis.

  • There were at least a hundred havelis in North India.
  • A haveli housed many families.
  • A beautiful gateway led to an open courtyard, surrounded by public rooms meant for visitors and business, used exclusively by males.
  • The inner courtyard with its pavilions and rooms were meant for the women of the household.
  • Rooms in the havelis had multiple uses and there was very little furniture.
  • Some havelis had quarters for the cart drivers, tent pitchers, torchbearers, accountants, clerks and household servants.

During the British rule the Mughal amirs were not able to maintain these havelis. Havelis were subdivided and sold. Often the street front of the havelis became shops or warehouses. Some havelis were taken over by the merchants but many of these beautiful havelis were neglected and eventually were ruined. The British colonial bungalows were different from the havelis.


                                                  The Colonial Bungalow


  • The British colonial bungalow was meant for one nuclear family.
  • It was a large single storeyed structure with a pitched roof.
  • It was usually set in one or two acres of open ground.
  • It had separate living and dining rooms and bedrooms, and a wide veranda running in the front, and sometimes on three sides.
  • Kitchens, stables and servants’ quarters were in a separate space from the main house.
  • The house was run by dozens of servants.
  • The women of the household often sat on the verandas to supervise tailors or other tradesmen.

There was a stark contrast between New Delhi which was developed by the British and Old Delhi or the walled city. The Municipality devised plans to develop Old City.


In 1931 the walled city was over crowded. There were almost 90 persons per acre, in sharp contrast New Delhi had only about 3 persons per acre. The over crowded Old city was getting more crowded and the living conditions were very bad.


In 1888 plans were drawn to extend the walled City. A scheme called the Lahore Gate Improvement Scheme was planned by Robert Clarke. The plan had a market square around which shops were built. Streets were built in a grid pattern and were identical in width, size and character. Land was divided into regular areas for the construction of neighbourhoods.


All these improvement schemes did not help to decongest the old city. Even in 1912, water supply and drainage in these new localities was very poor.


In 1936, the Delhi Improvement Trust was set up and it built areas like Daryaganj South for wealthy Indians. Houses were grouped around parks. Within the houses, space was divided according to new rules of privacy.     

Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name