Purana Qila was once the Pandavas’ Indraprastha

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Purana Qila

Main Entrains of Puran Qila

The seeds of the Mahabharata were sown in the Purana Qila

Purana Qila was once the Pandavas’ Indraprastha Castle. The history of the Puran Qila is associated with Mahabharata period, hence it is also called the fort of Pandavas. Whenever it is excavated, a new history is revealed. The old fort has also got relics related to Mahabharata period. Indeed, the seeds of Mahabharata were sown only in the Puran Qila.

Purana Qila

Arjuna burning Khandavaprastha

The entire script of the Mahabharata was written in the Purana Qila, which was called Indraprastha Durg. In fact, the state of Hastinapur was divided into Kauravas and Pandavas. The Kauravas had got Hastinapur and the Pandavas had got Khandwparasta, which was filled with rugged forest and barren land. Here was the authority of the King Takshak of Nagavansh. With the help of Shrikrishna, Pandavas burnt the Khandavastra and killed the Nag’s descendants. Some Nags descendants were escaped from here.

Purana Qila

Arjuna defeated Inderadeva

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.

Maya Danava built Indraprastha Durg

Purana Qila

Maya Danava built Indraprastha

On the insistence of Lord Krishna, the Maya Danav built a beautiful town in the Khandavprastha, which was beautiful like Indra’s Alakpuri. Hence its name was kept Indraprastha. When it became a city, Pandavas invited the Kauravas to see it. Just got ready, here is the background of the Mahabharata.

purana qila

Duryodhan slipped into pond

There was a pond in the Indraprastha palace, which looked like a meadow in view. As soon as Duryodhan stepped on the ground, he fell into the pond. Then Draupadi, along with Pandavas, laughs at Duryodhana. Not only have that, Draupadi also told Duryodhana to this extent, “blinded son of the blind”.

Purana Qila

Kunti Mandir, Purana Qila

It is said that any warrior can forget the enemy even after a hundred attacks, but can never forget the insult of a father made by a woman in public, who is a monarch? The sentence of this four-word of Draupadi was laid the foundation of Mahabharata and its mute witness was the fort of Pandavas, which today we call the Puran Qila or old fort. Even today there is a temple of Kunti inside the old fort, who was the mother of the Pandavas. It is believed that he used to worship there.

Remnants of Pre-history Period found in Puran Qila

Purana Qila

Excavation at Purana Qila

According to historians, the old fort was built in the 16th century on the high hill of Indraprastha in the pre-historic period. The Archaeological Survey of India has excavated this fort at many levels. In the excavation, remnants of the specialty type of pots and many other items painted with many ancient brown colors have been found, which are of Mahabharata period. Such utensils and other items have also been found at other places of Mahabharata period.

Purana Qila

Inside the entrance of Purana Qila

Before the British settled in Delhi, there was a village named Inderparat

There is also a fact about this that a village named Indraparat was situated in the place of the old fort. When the British created New Delhi, along with other villages, the village of Indraparat was also removed from here. A record of Sanskrit of 1328 AD has also been received from Sarwal village situated in Delhi. This archive is stored in the Museum of the Red Fort. It is mentioned in this record that this village is located in Indraprastha district.

Purana Qila

Excavated article at Purana Qila

There is another interesting context of Indraprastha. Accordingly, the Pandavas had demanded only five villages from the Kauravas. These were the villages, whose names have the word ‘pat’ at the end. This is the word of choice for Sanskrit in the Hindi language. These villages are situated – Indrapat, Baghpat, Tilpat, Sonipat, and Panipat. In the names of the places given, Tilpat village is situated at a distance of 22 km south of Delhi on the eastern bank of the Okhla Canal. Pottery has been received from here, which are from the Mahabharata period.


Purana Qila

ASI hoarding of excavation at Purana Qila

ASI unveiled the history of Indraprastha

The archaeological department had excavated in the southeastern part of the old fort in 1955. There were some cooking pots of clay from there, which match the objects obtained from other places related to Mahabharata’s story. That is why this impression became clear that this fort was built on the ruins of Indraprastha.

When the excavation was done between the eastern wall of the old fort again between 1969 and 1973, there was no evidence of the settlement of Mahabharata period from there, but all evidence of human habitation were found throughout the period of 300 BCE to the early Mughal period.  In these proofs, coins of this period, bead, earthenware, cooked clay, small statues of Yaksha, scriptural mudras (seals) etc. are prominent. All items found in the excavation have been exhibited in the museum of the fort.

The present fort was built by Shershah Suri

It is believed that this present fort was rebuilt by Sher Shah Suri from 1538 to 1545. But earlier this fort was the internal fort of Humayun’s ‘Dinapnah’ city. It is said that Mughal Emperor Humayun had settled his city ‘Dinapnah’ on the same mound along the Yamuna River, where the Pandavas’ capital was Indraprastha.

Purana Qila

Sheshah Suri

Sher Shah Suri conquered Humayun and destroyed all the buildings of this town. Later he built his own capital ‘Shergarh’ here. Meanwhile, Humayun again organized and attacked Shergarh and got his lost Sultanate back. The walls of Old Fort are 4 meters thick and up to 18 meters high.

Purana Qila

Inside the Purana Qila

The old fort was originally built on the banks of the river Yamuna but the slope of the north and west directions shows that there was a ditch connecting the river in terms of security. The wall of this fort is about 2.4 kilometers long and has three main doors north, west, and south. Of these, Western doors are used to enter the fort nowadays. The ‘Chhatris’ that are made here represent the Hindu architecture. That is why this fort is considered a beautiful example of the coordination of Hindu, Mughal and Afghan architecture.

Top attractions of Puran Qila:

  • Three huge and grand entrances: Bada Darwaja, Humayun Darwaja, and Talaqi Darwaja. The fort has a large door towards the west, which is still being used today. South entrance is known as ‘Humayun Gate’. This gateway was built by Humayun. Humayun’s tomb is also visible from here. The last entrance to the north is called ‘Talaqi Gate’. It is also known as ‘forbidden door’. It is unclear why and when the use of this door was restricted. All the gates are structures of two-storied sandstones. ‘Jharokhas’ and ‘Chhatris’ in the fort are reminiscent of Rajasthani architecture, and which have been repeated in later Mughal architecture.

    Purana Qila

    Qila-e-Cunha Masjid

  • Qila-e-Cunha Masjid: This is an excellent example of the Pre-Mughal architectural style. The mosque was built in 1541 by Sher Shah Suri. It is one dome mosque, of which there are five entrances. Qila-e-Cunha Masjid is made of red sandstone, which is carved with white marble. This is the most beautiful and secured structure in the old fort. At one time there was also a fountain in its courtyard.

    Purana Qila

    Sher Mandal

  • Sher Mandal: This is an octagonal two-storied building, which is in the name of Sher Shah and it was completed by Sher Shah Suri. But it is said that it was built by Babar as an observatory and library for his son Humayun. It is a two-storied building made of red sandstone. Here, while lifting books, when Humayun was descending from the stairs, then he had heard the call of Ajan (Islamic prayer). Humayun had a habit that once he heard Ajan’s call; he used to lean wherever he was. While bending, his legs were trapped somewhere in a long cloak and he fell off the stairs by losing balance. He died in 1556 from this accident.
  • Museum: This museum is located inside the ancient fort. The excavated items in this area have been stored here.

    Purana Qila

    The part of the fort where the light and sound show occurs

  • Light and Sound Show: This show is held in the evening inside the fort. It beautifully presents and delivers many interesting stories related to the history of Delhi and this fort.

    Purana Qila

    Lake outside the Old Fort

  • Boating: There is a lake in the ditch outside the ancient fort, which boasts a unique joy in boating.
  • Kunti Temple: There is also ‘Kunti Temple’ in old fort complex. It is said that the mother of Pandavas whose name was Kunti, worshiped in this temple.
  • Kairul manzil: It was built by Mother Maham Anga, foster-mother of Shahenshah Akbar, later it was transformed into a seminary.
  • Sher Shah Suri Gate: Sher Shah Suri Gate or Lal Darwaja was the southern entrance to the old fort. It is in the opposite direction of the old fort complex on the southeast Mathura road of Kairul Manzil.
Purana Qila

Lal Darwaja was the southern entrance to the old fort

Quick tips:

  • Location: Indraprastha Old Fort, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
  • Nearest Metro Station: Pragati Maidan
  • Entrance time: Sunset from sunrise (open all day)
  • Entry fee: Rs 15 for Indians, 200 rupees for foreigners There is no entry fee for children younger than 15 years.
  • Time to move the fort:5 to 2 hours
  • Photography: There is no charge for carrying the still camera. The fee for the video camera has to be paid.


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