A Historical Destination – Delhi

The city state of Delhi is one of the most historically relevant places in the Indian Subcontinent. The foundations of Delhi were laid between the 13th and 17th century. Delhi took its lifeline from the Yamuna River and to this day receives a lot of benefits from the ancient river. The present scenario in Delhi is such that one can witness historic monuments aside modern skyscrapers, commercial complexes and residential colonies. Delhi is famous for bringing forth a unique mix of traditional, contemporary and modern crafts from all over the country which are available side by side with all kinds of international products in the boutique shops, shopping complexes and state of the malls. Another feature of Delhi is the presence of rich museums. There is an abundance of parks, gardens and gourmet restaurants which provide a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

History of Delhi

Delhi found its first inhabitants sometime around the onset of the second millennium BC. Evidence has been uncovered which suggests that the area which now constitutes Delhi has been under settlement since the sixth century BC. Popular belief states that Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas who were pivotal to the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, was situated where Delhi stands today. Some of the earliest monuments such as the Purana Qila or Old Fort have served as windows to the rich past of India. Excavations in such sites have provided relics which can be dated back to the age of the Maurya dynasty circa 300 BC. Delhi has today proved that it had expanded far beyond the “seven cities” of yore. Architectural remains have been unearthed which confirm the presence of at least eight major cities of ancient India. At the center of these cities was Lal Kot which was built by the Tomara dynasty around 736 AD. The famous Rajput dynasty of the Chauhans later occupied and renamed the city as Qila Rai Pithora. The first sultan of Delhi, Qutub ud din Aibak had made an indelible mark on the face of the city after he rose to power from being a slave to Mohammad of Ghor. He commissioned the building of the first extant mosque in India, the Quwwat UL Islam. What is interesting, is that within the premises of this mosque was established a standard by Lord Vishnu in the form of the Iron Pillar which dates back to the 4th century. The Qutub Minar, one of the most identifiable landmarks in Delhi, was raised by Qutub ud din Aibak near the Iron Pillar. Iltutmish, the successor to the Qutub ud din, laid the foundations of the Mughal Empire in India and his tomb serves as an architectural marvel and bears testimony to the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. Another monument worth mentioning is the Alai Darwaza.

Siri was another one of the seven cities which was built during the Khilji dynasty by Ala-ud-din Khilji in around 1290 to 1320. One of the main contributions of Ala-ud-din Khilji was the reservoir at Hauz Khas. Hauz Khas is one of the only surviving remnants of the Khilji era of Delhi and that too because it has undergone rigorous renovations in the past few decades. Today, the area around Hauz Khas is spangled with a number cafes and boutiques which are a huge attraction to tourists. Muhammad bin Tughluq was the emperor under whom Delhi experienced its peak of existence. The fort of Tughluqabad was quotemelody raised in order to provide a means of defense against the Mongol raids and became the third of the famed “seven cities”. The fifth city named Firoz Shah Kotla still survives today and is famous for the historic Ashokan Pillar which was brought from Mathura. The fourth city of Jahanpana has however been degraded to the extent of near invisibility. The only real threat to Delhi in historic times occurred during the 15th century when Tamer Lane, the Mongolian War Chief laid waste to the city in what is considered one of the most horrific pillages of history. At this time, The Lodi Empire had made its presence in India and this can be seen today in the form of the Lodi Gardens.

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