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The Making of New Delhi

  • In 1803, the British gained control of Delhi after defeating the Marathas.
  • The Mughal emperor was allowed to continue living in the palace complex in the Red Fort. as the capital of British India was Calcutta,

The British in India before1857

  • After the British established themselves in India in 1803, they settled down in 4 major cities – Madras, Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi.

  • In Madras, Calcutta and Bombay the British lived separately from the Indians. The Indians lived in ‘black areas’, while the British lived in well laid-out ‘white areas’.

  • In Delhi the British lived along with the wealthy Indians in the walled city of Shahjahanabad.

  • They learned Urdu and enjoyed the rich Mughal culture and participated in local festivals.

  • The Delhi College which was established in 1792 proved to be the home ground for great intellectual flowering. The period between 1830 to 1857 was known as the period of the Delhi Renaissance.

  • In 1857 the Sepoy Mutiny broke out.

Delhi after the Sepoy Mutiny :

The revolt of 1857, known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the most severe outburst of anger and discontent accumulated in the hearts of various sections of the Indian society ever since the inception of British rule in Bengal, following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Revolt was also known as the First War of Independence.


During the Revolt Delhi remained under rebel control for four months. When the British took control of the city once again, they embarked on a campaign of revenge and plunder.

Scene of Revenge

  • The British killed the Indians and burnt their houses.

  • Fearing the British Indians left the walled city and took shelter in tombs outside.

  • To prevent another rebellion, the British exiled Bahadur Shah, who led the rebellion, to Burma, dismantled his court, and demolished several palaces.

  • Gardens were closed and converted into barracks for the British troops.

  • Several mosques were destroyed, while a few were put to other use.

Demolishing Delhi’s past

  • The British wanted Delhi to forget its Mughal past.

  • The area around the Fort was completely cleared of gardens, pavilions and mosques. No worship was allowed in the Jama Masjid for five years.

  • One-third of the city was demolished, and its canals were filled up.

  • In the 1870s, the western walls of Shahjahanabad were broken to establish the railway and to allow the city to expand beyond the walls.

  • The British now began living in the sprawling Civil Lines area that came up in the north, away from the Indians in the Walled City.

  • The Delhi College was turned into a school, and shut down in 1877.

  • After 1911 Delhi became the capital of British India.

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