Delhi is the old city of India

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The history of Delhi dates back to sixth century BC. It is a fact that most of its history, Delhi has served as a capital of various kingdoms and empires. It had been the  centre of various battles, it had beencaptured, ransacked and rebuilt several times, especially during the period of Muslim rulers.  Contemooprary Delhi is a cluster of a number of cities spread across the metropolitan region of Delhi.

History of Delhi

The neighbourhood of Delhi was known to be populated  before the beginning of second BC.  There is evidence that people used to inhabite there since at least the 6th century BC. At that time, the city was believed to be the site of Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas which found mention in the epic Mahabharata.  It states that the land was initially a huge mass of forests called ‘Khandavaprastha’. It was said to be burnt down to build the city of Indraprastha.

Maurya Period in Delhi

The buildings and architectural monuments were beginning to construct in the Maurya period in 300 BC. An inscription of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273–235 BC) was discovered near Srinivaspuri in recent years only. Remains of eight major cities have also been discovered in Delhi. The first five cities were in the southern part of present-day Delhi. Gurjara-Pratihara King Anang Pal of the Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in AD 736. Prithviraj Chauhan conquered Lal Kot in 1178 and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora. The iron pillar of Delhi, is said to have been fashioned at the time of Chandragupta Vikramaditya  of the Gupta Empire.

The king Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated in 1192 by Muhammad Ghori, an invader from Afghanistan, who made a concerted effort to conquer northern India. By 1200, native Hindu resistance had begun to crumble, the dominance of foreign Turkic Muslim dynasties in north India was to last for the next five centuries. The slave general of Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak was given the responsibility of governing the conquered territories of India and then Ghori returned to his capital, Ghor. He died in 1206 AD. He had no heirs and so his generals declared themselves independent in different parts of his empire. Qutb-ud-din assumed control of Ghori’s Indian estates. He laid the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate. He began construction of the Qutb Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (Might of Islam) mosque, the earliest extant mosque in India. Qutb-ud-din faced widespread Hindu rebellions because he broke several ancient temples to acquire wealth and material to build mosques and other monuments. It was his successor, Iltutmish (1211–36), who consolidated the Turkic conquest of northern India.

Delhi, Qutab Minar

The historical icon of Delhi (Pic: www.travel.india.com)

It was during the British rule, about a century ago, that the seat of their empire was shifted from Kolkata to Delhi. It has been the Capital of India ever since. Now a highly populated, with a mix of old and new , it is transformed into a cosmopolitan metro. With a history that goes back many centuries, Delhi showcases an ancient culture and a rapidly modernising country. Encircled by historically rich monuments there is much to discover here. The seat of many powerful empires, its past can be traced in its many carefully-preserved monuments, ancient forts and tombs.

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