ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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‘What Is Delhi?’

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Colossus: The Anatomy of Delhi edited by Sanjoy Chakravorty and Neelanjan Sircar, New York, Melbourne, New Delhi, Singapore and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021; pp xvi + 407, `1,295.

The reviewer, being a geographer, was very happy to see that Chapter 1 was titled “Geography and Demography.” The joy was, however, short-lived. One found, scant, if any, reference to the terrain and its impact on why and how Delhi has grown the way it has, both historically and recently, and if geography had anything to do with it.

All the seven capitals of mediaeval Delhi and the 20th-century-built New Delhi were located on the land west of river Jamuna. The land rises gently from the west bank of the river, all the way to the Aravalli and so when they began building in this area, they factored this in the rainwater and the streams followed the terrain and there would be no waterlogging. This is true even today of Mehrauli and Shahjahanabad, two of the eight capitals that had the time to grow into a city.

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