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Shubhyatra >> Delhi Yatra >> History of Delhi

HISTORY OF DELHI

Ancient Name : Indraprastha
First City : Lal Kot
Famous Rulers : Shah Jahan, Anang Pal, Qutab-ud-din Aibak
Major Attractions : Imperial forts, Heritage monuments

A Vacation on The Seat of Eternal Power

Ruins of Fort at Hauz Khas, Delhi
Ruins of Fort at Hauz Khas, Delhi

If you think that Delhi is the only city that has relished the glamour of being an eternal capital, you can be sure that you are slipping your mind in a wrong blanket. For Delhi has not always been the capital of India (or Bharatvarsha should we say?) but has played an important role in fabricating Indian history. Over the chapters of time, this archaic kingdom has seen the rise - and fall - of seven major powers which have built capitals here. Archaeological evidence that's been discovered recently - such as a rock edict carved in the era of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka - show that this area was settled 2500 years ago. But is it so? Once the fabled city of Indraprastha, ancient manuscripts trace back its lineage over 3000 years ago, when the famous battle of Mahabharata was fought on the nearby battlefield of Kurukshetra. Delhi is said to have been located on the west bank of the Yamuna river, on the site today occupied by the ruins of the Mughal emperor Humayan's fort, Purana Qila. Besides, the whole of Delhi is peppered with numerous glorious forts that still sing the erstwhile era. Come, unveil the pages of history right before your peeled eyes.


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Turning Over The Pages

The story starts with the invasion of the Tomara Rajputs, a warrior clan of Rajasthan, who established a substantial settlement on Delhi's southern outskirts. The most celebrated of them was Anang Pal, credited for two things - setting up Lal Kot, a small citadel now popularly described as the first city of Delhi and bringing the pure Iron Pillar, dating back to the Gupta period (320-600 AD) to Delhi that now finds a shelter in the Qutab Minar complex.

The Famous Mughal Emperor "Shahjahan"
The Famous Mughal Emperor "Shahjahan"

The Muslim rulers of central Asia had long held ambitions to extend their influence to the east. One of the major blows came from Qutab-ud-din Aibak, who occupied Delhi in 1193. This ushered in 6½ centuries of Muslim rule, which entirely changed the cultural face of north India. Many impressive architectural grandeurs were being made during this period including the colossal Qutab Minar and ambrosial Taj Mahal. The next ruler who has left his footprints on the pages of history is undoubtedly Akbar, the greatest of the Mughals, for he not only had the military ability required of a ruler in that time, but also a man of culture and wisdom with a sense of fairness. His grandson, Shah Jahan, shifted his capital oficially from Agra to Shahjahanabad, the seventh city of Delhi. Shah Jahan's reign marked the peak of the Mughal empire. The power of the emperor was unchallanged, architecture and the arts flourished and there was staggering wealth - the amazing Peacock Throne, made of gold, studded with precious stones and seven years in the making, was installed in Delhi's Red Fort, another marvellous creation of Shah Jahan.

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There have been at least eight cities around modern Delhi, and the old saying that whoever founds a new city at Delhi will lose it has come true every time -- most recently for the British who founded New Delhi in 1911. Delhi was the focal point for the first war of independence in 1857, often called as the Sepoy Mutiny, outside India. Though the revolt did not reach its desired conclusion, Delhi became a thorn in the eyes of the British. Not only in ancient times or the medieval period, Delhi has been the center of any activity at all times. As the Britishers shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi, all the activities during the freedom struggle were directed towards Delhi. The British planned to reincarnate Delhi as an imposing city of wide, tree-lined avenues and soaring public buildings. It was to be the ultimate stamp of authority, a reresentation of might born of an era when the empire was everything and the British felt they were destined to rule. The ultimate goal of the Azad Hind Fauz during the freedom struggle was to capture Delhi and established Swaraj. The slogan 'Dilli Chalo' is still used by leaders and political parties when they organise any rally or demonstration. It was the hosting of the tricolour at Red Fort in Delhi which marked a chapter in the history of Indian Independence.









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Top 5 Highlights of Delhi's History


Old Fort Delhi

The Throne of Delhi
Over the chapters of time, this archaic kingdom has seen the rise - and fall - of seven major powers which have built capitals here. Once the fabled city of Indraprastha, ancient manuscripts trace back its lineage over 3000 years ago. Today the whole of Delhi is peppered with numerous glorious forts that still sing the erstwhile era.


Waking Up To The First Settlement
The Tomara Rajputs, a warrior clan of Rajasthan, established a substantial settlement on Delhi's southern outskirts. The most celebrated of them was Anang Pal, credited for two things - setting up Lal Kot, a small citadel now popularly described as the first city of Delhi and bringing the pure Iron Pillar, dating back to the Gupta period (320-600 AD).


The Muslim Invasion
Qutab-ud-din Aibak, who occupied Delhi in 1193, is known to be the pioneer of Muslim settlement in Delhi. Many impressive architectural grandeurs were being made during this period including the colossal Qutab Minar.


The Onset of The Mughal Dynasty
Undoubtedly, Akbar is praised as the most powerful of Mughal Emperors.His grandson, Shah Jahan, shifted his capital oficially from Agra to Shahjahanabad, the seventh city of Delhi. The power of the emperor was unchallanged, architecture and the arts flourished in the making of Delhi's Red Fort, another marvellous creation of Shah Jahan.


Then Came The British
The British planned to reincarnate Delhi as an imposing city of wide, tree-lined avenues and soaring public buildings. It was to be the ultimate stamp of authority, a reresentation of might born of an era when the empire was everything and the British felt they were destined to rule.


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