A Transition through Time – As you walk along
the narrow bylanes of this city of dreams, tread
softly. Every crumbling wall has a story to tell.
Every yesterday is replete with history. Rulers
have come and gone. The city has lived through
wars and resurrection, repeatedly rising from
Cradling civilisations since times immemorial Delhi goes back
hundreds of thousands of years back into time.
Stone tools belonging to early stone age were discovered from
the Aravalli tracts in and around Anangpur, the Jawaharlal Nehru
University Campus, the northern ridge and elsewhere – evidence
that the Early Man lived here.
Excavations at Mandoli and Bhorgarh in east and north-west Delhi
respectively have thrown up remains of
chalcolithic period dating back to 2nd
millennium BC, 1st millennium BC as well
remains of 4th-5th century AD have been
The excavations of the ancient mound of Indraprastha, capital of
the Pandavas, located withing the fold of the sixteenth century
Purana Qila revealed evidence of continuous habitation of the
site for almost 2500 years.
According to the Mahabharata, the Pandavas founded their capital
Indrapratha in the region known as Khandava-prastha. Delhi was
also witness to the glories of the Maurya Empire during 3rd century BC.
The Ashokan edict engraved on a rock in East of Kailash as well as
remains found in Purana Quila excavations belonging to the Mauryan
period point to Delhi‘s importance during this era.
The first city of Delhi, Lal Kot was founded by the Tomar ruler
Anangpal, in the 11th century. It was extended to Qila Rai Pithora
by King Vigraharaja IV (Circa 1153-64). Qutbuddin Aibak became
Delhi‘s first Sultan in 1206 and laid the foundations of the Qutb Minar,
India‘s tallest stone tower at the site of the first city of Delhi
subsequently the kings of the Sultanate dynasties, Khaljis, Tughluqs Sayyids and Lodis continued to build. New
cities as Delhi grew.
The second city around Siri by Alaud-Din Khalji (1296-1316); Tughlaqabad, the third city built by
Ghiysud-Din Tughlug (1321-51); Firuzabad, the fifth city of Delhi, is now represented by Kotla Firuz Shah,
founded by Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-88).
It was Humayun who laid the foundations of the sixth city – Dinpanah. This was destroyed and reconstructed
as the Purana Qila by Sher Shah Suri however, it was the Mughals who took Delhi to the zenith of architectural glory.
While some construction activities did continue during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605) and Jehangir (1605-27),
it was Shah Jehan (1628-58) who built the seventh city, Shahjahanabad which remained the Mughal capital until
The British in 1911 shifted the capital of India to Delhi. The eighth city of New Delhi took shape in the imperial
style of architecture. From then to now Delhi continues to throb with vitality and hope.
The ruins and ramparts still stand tall in dignity – and amidst them rise modern buildings and giant
skyscrapers. It’s a breathtaking synthesis of yesterday and tomorrow, the holding on to the past
and surging ahead to the future.
Call it what you will.. it’s Delhi.