Amazing and incredible history of Delhi

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To explore the amazing and incredible history of Delhi, first of all, we have to go to Mahabharata period. In the Mahabharata, the capital of Pandavas was Indraprastha, which is ancient name of Delhi. Although Delhi is one of the oldest cities in the world, who still inhabited. These cities include Israel’s Jerusalem and Banaras. It is said that Delhi has been inhabited 11 times and it has been destroyed.

Indraprastha was once the capital of Pandava

After the partition of Hastinapur, Pandavas were found to be very desolate and deserted land Khandavprastha, where there was a fierce jungle. The race of Naga used to live here, whose king’s name was Takshak. Pandavas had incinerating these forests with the help of Lord Sri Krishna and serpent race struck banished. This was the reason for the animosity of the Naga kings against the Pandavas. Due to this hostility, Abhimanyu’s son Parikshit was killed by Nagraj Takshak.

Pandavas

Pandavas first settled a new city Indraprastha, which is today known as Delhi

It is mentioned in the Mahabharata that the protector of Khandavprastha was Indradeva. This is also one of the reasons that it is known as Indraprastha. When this forest was being burnt, Indra attacked Arjuna with a tremendous force. But Arjuna defeated all the Gods, Gandharvas and demons in this battle and burnt the forest.

The war of Arjuna and Indra

Arjuna Defeated Indra and burnt the Khandavprastha

Maya Danava planned Indraprastha design

After this Pandavas and Lord Shri Krishna planned to settle Khandavparasta with the help of Maya Danava. Maya Danava made the beautiful model of this city and showed it to Pandavas and Lord Shri Krishna, which was as magnificent as Indra’s Amravati. Probably this was the second reason for changing the name of Khandavprastha to Indraprastha.

Model of Inderprastha

Model of Inderprastha showing by Maya Danava to Pandava and Lord Shri Krishna

In the heart of the city of Indraprastha was the grand palace of Pandavas, whose beauty was so unique that Duryodhana came to see it. It is said that this palace was situated at the same place, where the old fort is located today. The Nigambodh cremation center is the place where Pandav Raj Yudhishthira sacrificed the horse after Ashwamedh Yagna.

The seeds of the Mahabharata were sown in Indraprastha Durg

There was a pond in the Indraprastha palace, which looked like a meadow. As soon as Duryodhan took a foot on the grassland, he fell into the pond. Draupadi also started laughing at Duryodhana with Pandavas. Not only that, Draupadi crossed the limits and said to Duryodhana, “blind son of the blind.” Pandavas had already planned this insult of Duryodhana.

Duryodhana slipped in the pond

Duryodhana slipped in the pond

It is said that a great warrior can forget a hundred invasions of the enemy, but can never forget the humiliation of a father made by a woman, and who is a king? These four words of Draupadi had laid the foundations of Mahabharata and its silent witness was the fort of Pandavas, which today we call the old fort.

Takshak had taken revenge for the destruction of Khandavprastha

After the Mahabharata, Pandavas had become discouraged from worldly life and went to the Himalayas for austerity. Then Abhimanyu’s son Parikshit took over the administration of Indraprastha. One day when the king went on a hunt, Kaliyug confused his intelligence. King Prakshit asked the sage Shamik about his prey, then he did not respond, then in anger, he put a dead snake in the throat of the sage.

 

The Shamik sage knew that the king was a good king, so he said nothing. But when his son whose name was Shrangi, came and saw all this, he cursed the king that after seven days the King Takshak of the serpent would bite him and take revenge for the destruction and displacement of his kingdom of Khandavprastha. When Shamik Rishi came to know of it, he gave the king a careful caution.

After receiving the news of the curse, King Parikshit built a seven-story high house to protect himself from the Takshak and deployed the best good snake-charmers around him. When the Takshak realized it, he took the form of a very small worm in a fruit. When the fruit reached near Raja Parikshit for pooja, the small worm turned into a big snake and he has bitten the king.

Janamejaya took revenge of his father from Takshak

In order to take revenge for the death of his father, Janamejaya organized a sacrifice of serpents, in which all the snakes of the world were pulled out by the power of the chaplains and they started sacrificing them in the fire of Yajna. When Takshak came to know of it, he started Stuck the Indra’s throne and asking for his protection. But with the help of mantras, the throne of Indra also started coming towards the Havan Kund. Then a sage named Astik stopped the snake sacrifice and saved the other snakes.

Most noteworthy, in the place where the old fort is located, there was a village named Indraprastha even before the British settled New Delhi. Tilpat is a village in Faridabad, Haryana, which is connected to Delhi, it was the Tilprastha village of Pandavas. During the serpent yajna of Pandav emperor Janamejaya in Sihi village near Faridabad Sector-7, the epic Mahabharata was proclaimed.

Why is this fort also known as the fort of Pandavas?

The feature of this palace in Indraprastha was that there was a pond in it, which looked like a meadow in appearance. When Duryodhana came here, as soon as he stepped into the meadow of the grass, he fell into the water. Seeing this, Draupadi laughed at him, “blind son of the blind.”

Kunti Mandir

Kunti Temple at Puran Qila, Delhi

Duryodhana never forgot this insult. In fact, this sentence, said by Draupadi, laid the foundations of Mahabharata, whose witness is this palace of Indraprastha. Most noteworthy, It is believed that the palace of Indraprastha is buried under the old fort of Delhi. Even today a temple Kunti is located in the Puran Qila of Delhi. It is believed that Pandava’s mother Kunti worshiped here. That is why this fort is also known as the fort of Pandavas.

Purana Qila

Excavation at Puran Qila, Delhi

The history of Delhi is associated with the Indus Valley civilization. Proof of this has been found in excavations in the areas around Haryana. The first evidence found in the archaeological form reveals that even two thousand years ago, the city was settled in and around Delhi. In Maurya period (300 years ago), there was also a developed city.

Tomar dynasty ruled Delhi for many centuries from Lalkot

It is believed that the ruler of the Tomar dynasty ruled Delhi for many centuries. Prithviraj Chauhan’s royal poet Chand Bhardai’s Hindi composition Prithviraj Raso, mentioned in the verse, Anangpal Tomar had created a ‘Lalkot’. Therefore Anangpal Tomar is considered as the founder of Delhi. The walls of the Lalkot are still present in the area of Mehrauli. It is believed that Lalkot was constructed in the 11th century. Lalkot means red fort.

Iron Pillar

Iron Pillar at Qutub Complex, Delhi

An inscription of Ashoka received in 1966 (273-300 BC) was found in Srinivaspuri in Delhi. This inscription, which is about the famous Iron pillar, can now be seen in the Qutub Minar Complex. This pillar was originally built in the Gupta period in the third-fourth century and was later brought to Delhi. It is believed that it was built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya.

Although the iron pillar is not originally of Qutub complex. Probably Tomar king, Anangpal II (1051-1081) brought it from Udaygiri in central India. This iron pillar has also been mentioned in Prithviraj Raso.

Qila Rai Pithora

Raja Anangpal Tomar of Lalkot had no son. He was the maternal grandfather of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. In 1160, Chauhan rulers took Lalkot from the Tomar rulers of Delhi. After this, the state of Prithviraj Chauhan extended from Ajmer to Delhi’s Lalkot. Prithviraj Chauhan changed the name of Lalkot to Qila Rai Pithora. Prithviraj Chauhan expanded the city by making tall walls for six kilometers. Maharaj Prithviraj Chauhan is considered to be the last Hindu emperor of Delhi.

Prithviraj Chauhan

Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu emperor of Delhi

However, Prithviraj Chauhan did not rule over the city for a long time. In 1192, Mohammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan in the second battle of Tarain and ended his rule. Thus, the foundation of Muslim rule in India fell. Mohammad Ghori appointed a slave to retain control over Delhi.

Qtubuddin Aibak

Qtubuddin Aibak with his commanders

That slave was Qutubuddin Aibak, who founded the slave clan in Delhi Sultanate after killing Mohammed Ghori in 1206 because Mohammed Ghori had no son. Qutubuddin Aibak made Qutub Minar By destroying Hindu and Jain temples and buildings; he constructed Quvat-ul-Islam Masjid.

Siri Fort

Khilji rulers extended the slave dynasty of Qutbuddin Aibak. Jalaluddin Khilji was the founder of Khilji dynasty. Alauddin Khilji killed his uncle Jalaluddin Khilji and becoming the Sultan of Delhi.

Alauddin Khilji managed to deceive the Mongols and conquered many Hindu kingdoms including ‘Gujarat’, ‘Chittor’, ‘Malwa’, ‘Siwana’, ‘Jalore’, etc. In this, his military commander and counselor, Malik Kafur, proved to be a great help, who was a slave captured in during Gujarat raid.

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Alauddin Khilji was a passionate ruler and liked to be called as the Second Alexender by the people. He also inscribed the title ‘Sikander-i-Sani’ on his coins. He developed the city of Siri in 1303. Hauzkhas has ruins of Siri Fort.

Tughlaqabad

In 1320, The last ruler of the Khilji dynasty Qutb-ud-Din Mubarak Shah Khilji was killed by Khusro Khan, who was the slave of Sultan. He took power by killing him. Then Ghazi Khan, along with his son Fakra Khan, killed Khusro Khan and captured the Delhi Sultanate. The same Ghazi Khan became the sultan of Delhi under the name of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq and he laid the foundation of the Tughlaq dynasty. This city was settled between 1321 and 1325.

 Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq

Painting, Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq holding court

Jahanpanah

Muhammed bin Tughlaq

Muhammed bin Tughlaq welcoming Iban Batuta

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’s successor, Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325-1351) raised the walls of the fort and developed a new city, which is called Jahanpanah. This area is between Siri and Rai Pithora Fort. Muhammad bin Tughlaq is notoriously as a freak king to transfer capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. He came back to Delhi after some time.

Firozabad

Firoz Shah, son of Muhammad bin Tughluq (1351-1388) settled a new city, which is called Feroz Shah Kotla. His remnants are still present near Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium. There was a large part of this city, in which the palace, mosque and large chambers with many pillars and several story pond were there. Firoz Shah had installed a 1500-year-old Ashoka pillar on top of his palace, which he had brought up from Meerut. Firoz Shah had rebuilt several old buildings in Delhi, including the Tomb of Gori, Qutub Minar, Suraj Kund and Hauzkhas.

After the death of Feroze Shah, the Delhi Sultanate became weak. Meanwhile, Timur Lang robbed Delhi and plundered it. The rulers of Sayyid and Lodhi dynasty stabilized Delhi. There is only one monument in this period, which is safe in the form of tombs in Lodhi Garden. Ultimate Lodhi ruler Ibrahim Lodhi was defeated by Babar in the first battle of Panipat. Babar conquered him and laid the foundation of Mughal Empire in India.

Din Panah

Babur’s son Humayun ruled Delhi for a few years. He built the capital in the name of ‘Dinpanah’ on the remains of the old fort. 16th-century historian Abul Fazl wrote in ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ that Humayun actually re-constructed ‘Indrapat’ and named him ‘Dinpanah’. But in 1540 Humayun lost  Dinpanah and Sheshah Suri captured it.

Shergarh

Sher Shah Suri (1538-1545) destroyed the Din Panah and the fort was built on its ruins by the name of Shergarh. This fort is located near the Zoo of Delhi and it is called ‘Purana Qila’ or ‘Old Fort’. Humayun again came to power, he made more construction in Shergarh.

Shahjahanabad

Humayun’s son, Akbar, built his capital Agra. Hence his son Jahangir also ruled from there. But Jehangir’s son Shah Jahan (1638-1649) transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jahan named his capital Shahjahanabad. He constructed Lal Qila and Jama Masjid in Delhi. Shah Jahan also constructed a canal from the Red Fort to Chandni Chowk, which went to Fatehpuri Mosque. Later, the canal was demolished on the road. Today, it is the main market of Chandni Chowk. He built a wall around Delhi and constructed six gates in it. The names of these gates are Delhi Gate, Lahori Gate, Turkman Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Kashmiri Gate and Mori Gate.

Aurangzeb (1658-1707) removed Shahjahan from the throne and declared himself an emperor in Shalimar Bagh. The Kashmiri Gate was blown away by the cannon by the British in the rebellion of 1857 because the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar had captured Delhi. He had fluttered his green flag of freedom on the Red Fort. But this flag of Bahadur Shah Zafar fluttered for only three days. English forces regrouped on Delhi and captured Bahadur Shah Zafar and sent Rangoon (Myanmar) to prison, where he died.

Lutyens’ New Delhi

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company took over the territories of almost whole of India. The British made Kolkata their capital. In 1911, the English government decided that the capital should be brought to Delhi. For this, the construction of a new city of New Delhi began in the south of Old Delhi. Sir Edwin Lutyens rose to New Delhi and pursued British construction in Delhi. After independence in 1947, the Government of India declared New Delhi as its capital.

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