(Last Updated on : 06/12/2012)
History of Delhi goes back to centuries back and narrates some of the most significant occurrences in the history of India. Indian capital city of Delhi has a long history, including a history as the capital of several empires. The earliest architectural relics of Delhi date back to the Maurya Empire
(c. 300 BC). The history of Delhi murmurs the tale of ancient, buried long ago. According to Jawaharlal Nehru
, "Delhi is the symbol of old India and new...even the stones here whisper to our ears of the ages of long ago and the air we breathe is full of the dust and fragrances of the past, as also of the fresh and piercing words of the present"
The history of Delhi
encompasses all the various kings and emperors who seated their royal citadels here, namely those of the Indraprastha
, Lal Kot, Quila Rai Pithora, Siri, Jahanpanah, Ferozabad, Tughlakabad, Dinpanah, Delhi Sher Shahi or then Shahjahanabad. However, later all these Delhi Sultanates
combined and integrated into one and have been called Delhi. Howsoever many names it may have acquired, Delhi has always been fundamentally identified with power and grand sway. Delhi has been destroyed and recreated almost seven times
It is also seen in the history of Delhi that several empires rose and fell before the dawn of history; citadels of emperors appeared and disappeared. Delhi is a city of mysterious eternity whose old ruins declare a majestic and regal past and whose present throb vibrantly with the ever flowing life of India. The eternal Yamuna River
flowing by the city bears witness to the glorious and tumultuous 5,000-year-old history of Delhi. The history of Delhi begins with the creation of Indraprastha by the Pandavas
and the transformation of this barren gift of the Kauravas
into a tranquil heaven.
The city of Delhi was believed to be the legendary capital of Pandavas (Indraprastha), which is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata
. From the time of the Mauryans there have been settlements here. The ruins of seven major cities have been discovered in Delhi. Modern Delhi is dated from the finding of Lal Kot, which is considered as the first of Delhi's seven historical cities. It was in AD 736, that the Tomara Rajput dynasty
founded the city of Lal Kot. In 1180, the Chauhans, the rivals of the Rajput clan ousted the Tomaras and renamed the city as Quila Rai Pithora. Only for a decade the Chauhans remained here.
The history of Delhi goes much further back in time than the 13th century. The core of the city suggests the formation of the seven cities that was created by Anagpal Tomar who is said to have built Lal Kot, which the first is known regular defence work in Delhi. Later, the Chauhan Rajput's captured Delhi from the Tomars. Prithviraj III
, also known as Rai Pithora, extended Lal Kot, adding enormous fortifications and gates and made Quila Rai Pithora the first city of Delhi. Today only, the fortifications are visible near the Qutub Minar
, though the city is known to have had quite a lot of Hindu and Jain temples. Soon afterwards, in two consecutive battles of Tarain 1191 and 1192, the Rajputs first managed to restrain an invading force from Afghanistan, led by Muhammad Ghuri
but surrendered a few months later. After Ghuri's assassination in 1206, his provinces, forts and monuments were kept unharmed in the hands of his Turkish general, Qutub-ud-din-Aibak
, the creator of the Slave dynasty
or Mamulak dynasty
also known as Delhi Sultanate and became the first Muslim ruler of Delhi. He also constructed the Qutub Minar. His successor, Iltutmish
, was possibly the greatest of the early Delhi Sultans.
In the history of Delhi, the Slave Dynasty (1211-1227) was followed by the Khalji dynasty
(1296-1316) and during the rule of Ala-ud-din Khalji
, the second city of Delhi was built which is known as Siri. Today, Siri is situated where the Siri Fort
and the modern day Asiad Village Complex are positioned. The third city of Delhi - Tughluqabad was founded by the Tughluq dynasty
soon after in 1320 AD. However, very little remains of this can be seen in present day Delhi. The fourth city of Delhi - Jahanpanah was built in 1327 AD between Lal Kot and Siri. The next Sultan Firoz Shah Tuglaq
built the fifth city of Delhi in 1354 AD - Firozabad District
The Tughlaq's were succeeded by the Central Asian Turk, Timur, who was later succeeded by the Sayyid dynasty
. The Lodi dynasty
followed very soon and the only interesting architectural features added by them were the tombs, the finest of which may be seen at the Lodi Gardens. The well-known battle of Panipat
fought in 1526 marked the beginning of Mughal dynasty
in India, a period in Indian history that was very significant.
were the early Mughal rulers that were interrupted by a 15-year break in Mughal rule when Sher Shah Suri
an Afghan king ruled over Delhi. He built the fort Din-Panah - the 6th city on the banks of the Yamuna, which is presently known as the Purana Qilain. When Emperor Akbar
took over, the capital was shifted to Agra. However in 1628 AD, Delhi was again made the capital of the Mughal Empire under the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan
. In Shah Jahan's rule, Delhi experienced the construction of some of the finest pieces of Mughal architecture. There was the new walled capital of Shahjahanbad - the 7th city of Delhi, which is now known as Old Delhi with the heritage sites of Red Fort and the Jama Masjid
For the next many decades, Delhi witnessed chaotic times, different rulers and dynasties and finally in 1803 AD, the British Government in India
who had already time-honoured their presence in India, took over power in Delhi. Delhi became the focal point for the first war of independence in 1857. Though the revolt did not reach its objected end, Delhi became a thorn in the eyes of the British.
As the British Government in India shifted their capital from Kolkata
, all the actions during the freedom struggle were carried on in Delhi. Thus, Delhi bears several marks of the freedom struggle. It was the hosting of the tri-colour at Red Fort
in Delhi that marked a significant chapter in the history of India.
After Independence on 15 August 1947, Delhi was officially declared as the seat of the Government of India
and the Capital of the Republic. With Independence, it was in Delhi that the British handed over power to India's first democratically elected Government under Jawaharlal Nehru. In the wake of the Partition of India
, Hindu mobs turned on Delhi's Muslim population and nearly half of them fled to Pakistan ending centuries of Muslim dominance in the city and they were replaced by an arrival of Hindu and Sikh refugees from the Pakistani sectors of Punjab
In 1950, Delhi was made the capital of Independent India and in 1992 it was declared as a state. The history of Delhi is believed to be one of the most glorious and stately one in the history of India.