Delhi is a maddening city to live in. Modern yet steeped in tradition. Extreme wealth pitted along side abject poverty. With a population of over 13 mn, bustling markets and roads teeming with vehicles spewing pollution- Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being the most polluted city in the world. But Delhi is also the greenest capital in the world. This is the place that can offer you acres and acres of wooded areas, bird sanctuaries, jostling with high rises and slums- all within a couple of kilometers. And of course, stunning architecture going back centuries. An ancient lore says Delhi was cursed- It would only thrive after 7 dynasties had fallen. New Delhi, as we know it today, is said to be the 8th rule in a centuries old struggle for supremacy among many invaders. I am no historian to be able to speak of any of this with any authority, but I do enjoy reading and travelling. When I am not travelling out of Delhi, I try and walk around this city that makes for such fabulous stories. Most of the information produced here has been taken from Wikipedia. All pictures- good or bad- have been taken by me on my various walks around this fascinating city.
Qila Rai Pithora– Chauhan Dynasty: (10th century) Delhi has been a thriving city for several centuries, though the ‘ first city ‘ of Delhi dating to 10th century gets its recognition due available and easily accessible recorded historical facts. Qila Rai Pithora was created by Prithviraj Chauhan- the popular figure of many stories of Hindu resistance against Muslim invaders. Prithviraj’s ancestors captured Delhi from the Tomar Rajputs who have been credited with founding Delhi. Prithviraj Chauhan took over and extended an existing fort in Delhi called Lal Kot for his city Qila Rai Pithora. The ruins of the fort ramparts are still partly visible in the area around Qutab Minar.
Mehrauli-Slave Dynasty: (12th century) Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated and killed in battle by Mohammed Ghori in 1192, who left his slave Qutubuddin Aibak as his viceroy in India. In 1193, Qutubuddin Aibak captured Delhi from the Chauhans. After the death of Mohammed Ghori in 1206, Qutubuddin enthroned himself as the first sultan of Delhi – creating the Slave or Mamluk Dynasty-the first dynasty of Muslim sultans to rule over northern India, and Delhi was its capital. They left an impact of their culture and faith, which continues to date. In a large part this was by way of the architecture, as Qutubuddin created Mehrauli, the most famous of his creations was the Qutab Minar,which still stands tall and proud. Qutubuddin’s heirs reigned until 1290; Razia Sultan, his granddaughter, is a historic figure as the first woman empress of India, who ruled between 1236 and 1240.
Siri: Khilji dynasty- (13th/14th century)-The ‘Slave’ dynasty was followed by the line of Khilji rulers. Among the six rulers of th
e Khilji dynasty, Allauddin Khilji is the most well – known; who extended his dominion into southern India , and created the third city of Delhi, Siri. Hauz Khas [a reservoir] was an accomplishment of city of Siri among others, a madrasa (college) was also created here by later rulers. Hauz Khas today is a complex of upmarket eateries and high priced shops against the ruins of the ancient SIRI fort.
Tughlaqabad: Tughlaq dynasty: (14th century) Ghias-ud-Din Tughlak, created the third city of Tughlakabad. He created a fort here (the splendid ruins still remain ) with high battlements and his descendant Mohammad Tughlak went on to capture much of India. He also raised a city,
Jahanpanah, which largely comprised a walled enclosure between Qila Rai Pithora and Siri. This is sometimes called the fourth city of Delhi. Tughlakabad, however, continued to be the main city. There were eleven rulers from the Tughlak dynasty but only the first three generations were interested in architecture-raising mosques, caravansarais, madrasas and laying canals.
Firozabad: Tughlaq dynasty [feroz shah tughlaq]-(late 14th century)- One of the rulers of the Tughlaq Dynasty,Firoze Tughlak created the fourth city of Delhi , Firozabad or Kotla Firoze Shah next to the river Yamuna. After Firoze Shah’s death, the sultanate became politically unstable and in 1398, the Turk ruler of Samarkand, Taimur invaded India – he created havoc in the cities of Delhi, looting, killing and plundering. The Sayyid and Lodhi dynasties that followed the Tughlak dynasty were far more concerned with restoring stability than patronisation of arts or architecture. Tombs erected in the honour of the rulers are the only monuments of these times (most famous: the tombs at the Lodhi Garden).Architectural glory in India returned with the Mughals.
Shergarh/Din Panah/Purana Qila-Sher Shah Suri- [16th century]- What is known as the Purana Qila today, was the creation of Sher Shah Suri when he wrested Delhi from Humayun in 1540,the second Mughal Emperor. It was originally being built by Humayun as his capital Dinpanah. Sher Shah razed Dinpanah to the ground and started building his own capital introducing ornate elements in architecture. Delhi was won back by Humayun not very many years later in 1555 and he completed parts of the Purana Qila left unfinished by Sher Shah.Firozabad: Tughlaq dynasty [feroz shah tughlaq]-(late 14th century)- One of the rulers of the Tughlaq Dynasty,Firoze Tughlak created the fourth city of Delhi , Firozabad or Kotla Firoze Shah next to the river Yamuna. After Firoze Shah’s death, the sultanate became politically unstable and in 1398, the Turk ruler of Samarkand, Taimur invaded India – he created havoc in the cities of Delhi, looting, killing and plundering. The Sayyid and Lodhi dynasties that followed the Tughlak dynasty were far more concerned with restoring stability than patronisation of arts or architecture. Tombs erected in the honour of the rulers are the only monuments of these times (most famous: the tombs at the Lodhi Garden).Architectural glory in India returned with the Mughals.
Shahjahanabad: Shah Jahan- Mughal Dynasty: [17th century]- The grandson of Akbar, the greatest among Mughal Emperors who ruled India, Shahjehan, the man who gave the Taj Mahal to the world, created the city of Shahjehanabad, the seventh city of Delhi – around the area that is now known as Old Delhi. Many structures remain as major tourist attractions today. And the grandest of these- the Jama Masjid is an outstanding example of the Mughal architecture.