When I think of Delhi I get submerged in its glorious past. I think about the monarchs who were swayed away with its illusionist magnetism..I think about the numerous battles that have been fought for its seizure..I think of the beautiful Muslim architecture sprinkled all across the city that are still reminiscent of its glorious past and still murmur the stories of the bygone era..
If we turn back the pages of the Indian history, we can find Delhi to be the center of power since ancient times. From the times of the Mahabharat as Indraprastha, to the modern day New Delhi, the city has been annexed and re-annexed by one dynasty after another.
From what remains in the modern day, the city of Delhi can be seen as a cluster of 7 cities, that together are a refection of a 1000 year old history. From being a Rajput stronghold, to being the city of sultans, and further becoming the shining Mughal capital, the city has kept on re-inventing itself through the past millennium.
Lets turn back the clock, and visit these 7 cities that have molded Delhi into its present form.
Although Delhi had been a thriving city since the ancient times of Mahabharata as Indraprastha, Lalkot is considered to be the first city of Delhi based on available recorded historical facts.
Built around the 1052 AD by the Tomar ruler Anangpal, Lalkot was the first fortified township in the history of Delhi. A century later, the great Chauhan ruler Prithviraj, took over the reigns of Delhi and extended Lalkot to form his own city, Qila Rai Pithora, as a defense against the Muslim invaders.
Present day location :
Lalkot – Sanjay Van, Mehrauli.
Qila Rai Pithora – Press Enclave Road, Saket
Established in around 1303 AD, by the great Alauddin Khilji, Siri served as the capital of the Khilji dynasty. It was mainly built as a defense against the regular Mongol invasions. Alauddin even built a large reservoir, Hauz Khas, inside this city to meet the daily needs of its inhabitants.
Present Day location : Area around Khelgaon / Shahpur Jat / Hauz Khas Village
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, founder of the Tughlaq dynasty, created the third city of Tughlakabad in 1320 AD. He got built the majestic Tughalakabad fort, a massive stone fortification with high battlements. The fort, now lying in ruins, is home to the beautiful mausoleum, where Ghiyasuddin rests in peace.
The city was cursed by the great Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya that it would either fall or get conquered by the Gujjars. And it did come true!!! The fort was abandoned in 1327 AD, and was conquered by Gujjars, after the fall of the Tughlaq dynasty.
Present Day location : Mehrauli-Badarpur Road
Jahanpanah was the fourth medeival city of Delhi, established by Muhammad bin Tughlaq during 1326-27. This fortified city was built by enclosing the area lying between Qila Rai Pothora and Siri. The fort has not survived the sands of time, and certain mosques and other scatters buildings are what remain of the erstwhile capital of the country.
Present Day location : Sarvapriya Vihar / Khirki village / Sarvapriya Vihar
The fifth city of Ferozabad or Kotla Firoz Shah, was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the cousin and successor of Muhammad Bin, in 1354. Built on the banks of river Yamuna, Ferozabad was considered to be a masterpiece, showcasing beautiful palaces, pillared halls, water tanks and gardens.
Now lying in ruins, the only thing remaining is the palace with a 2200 year old Ashokan pillar planted by Firoz Shah.
Present Day location : Between ITO and Delhi Gate
- Shergarh / Dinpanah
The present day Purana Qila was created by Sher Shah Suri when he won Delhi from Humayun, the second Mughal king, in 1540. It was originally being built by Humayun as his capital Dinpanah. Sher Shah destroyed it and started building his own capital. But during this phase, he died in an accident and Humayun won back Delhi in 1555. He again got possession of the site and completed the works started by Sher Shah. Talk about ‘Game of Thrones’!!!!
Historians consider this area to the be the place where the ancient Indraprastha once stood….
Present Day location : Purana Qila
The modern day Old Delhi, in its heydays was considered to be one of the most most beautiful and rich cities in the entire world!! The majestic Shahjahanabad – the seventh city of Delhi, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. Historical records and the travelers’ accounts from that era have thrown light on the glorious city that it truly was.. The glorious havelis of the noblemen, the buzzing bazars, beautiful fountains and gardens..it truly was the center of art, culture and resounding beauty…
Present Day location – Old Delhi