Etymology of Indraprastha
Indraprastha literally means city of Lord Indra. It is sometimes also known as Khandavaprastha, the name of a forest region on the banks of Yamuna River.
Historical Significance of Indraprastha
The story of this ancient city says that Yudhisthira, the eldest brother of the Pandavas was given the kingdom of Khandavaprastha, a region northwest of the city of Hastinapura. Khandavaprastha at that time was a barren, dry, infertile land frequently visited by famine. Seeing this, Lord Krishna summoned Lord Indra, the king of Gods to help Yudhisthira who called the architect of the Gods, Viswakarma to solve the problem.
By performing some rituals to bless the land, Vishwakarma built a glorious new city Indraprastha which became the capital of the Pandavas. The pious rule of Yudhisthira filled the city with prosperity and health. Even after the famous battle of Kurukshetra when Yudhisthira became the king of Hastinapura, he still retained control over the city.
What happened to the city after the Mahabharata is not clear as much of the ancient history is blurred. Indraprastha remained a major city for many centuries but it became less significant with the rise of new cities like Pataliputra, southeast of the river plains, one of the powerful empires of ancient India. The city of Indraprastha is believed to be 5,000 years old. Hun invaders attacked Indraprastha after the fall off the Gupta Empire. Delhi was built close to Indraprastha by the Hindu monarch Raja Dhilu.
Excavation near Purana Qila
Archaeological Survey of India made some excavations near Purana Qila in present-day New Delhi. The excavations that were made near Purana Qila bear ample testimony to the fact that habitation in Indraprastha continued for almost 2,500 years. The Archaeological Survey of India is continuing excavation in Purana Qila.