City Spotlight: New Delhi

New Delhi, an urban district of Delhi, serves at the capital of India and the seat of all three branches of Government. The city was officially founded in 1911 by George V, Emperor of India during the Delhi Durbar, and it was designed by British architects. When Calcutta, now Kokata, became the epicenter of the Indian Independence movement, British colonizers moved the capital to New Delhi, where it has remained for more than a century. After the country gained independence in 1947, a limited autonomy was conferred to New Delhi.


New Delhi forms just a small part of the Delhi metropolitan area, sitting on the Indo-Gangetic Plain. As a result, there is little difference in elevation across the city—something quite rare to find in large Indian cities. While New Delhi lies on the floodplains of the Yamuna River, it is essentially landlocked. Additionally, the city falls under the seismic zone-IV, making it especially vulnerable to earthquakes. New Delhi is also known for its bad air quality and pollution. In 2014, the World Health Organization ranked New Delhi as the world’s worst polluted city among the 1,600 cities tracked. The city is doing what it can to alleviate some of the pollution, the Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency in 2017 due to high pollution levels. If you travel to this city, especially in the winter, when pollution is at its worst, I recommend wearing some sort of face mask. You can purchase these items at most stores and pharmacies.


Despite the devastating pollution, New Delhi is a remarkably cosmopolitan city. This is due, in part, to the cultural presence of the vast Indian bureaucracy and political system. National events, such as Republic Day, Independence Day, and Gandhi Jayanti are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm, and I highly recommend timing your visit with a celebration. The city is full of historic sites, museums, and gardens, making it a perfect Indian destination for lovers of art and culture.


When traveling to New Delhi, visitors can utilize its railways, Metro, bus system, and motorways. Getting here is remarkably easy. In fact, in 2010, Indira Gandhi International Airport was conferred the fourth best airport award in the world (within the 15-25 million category). This is a can’t-miss destination in your Indian experience.