History of Delhi


"Once there was nothing here.
Now look how minarets camouflage the sunset.
Do you hear the call to prayer?
It leaves me unwinding scrolls of legend
till I reach the first brick they brought here.
How the prayers rose, brick by brick?"

--Agha Shahid Ali


Delhi, the capital of India has a strong historical background. It was ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in Indian history.

The history of the city is as old as the epic Mahabharata. The town was known as Indraprastha, where Pandavas used to live. In due course eight more cities came alive adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora, Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad.

Delhi has been a witness to the political turmoil for over five centuries. It was ruled by the Mughals in succession to Khiljis and Tughlaqs.

In 1192 the legions of the Afghan warrior Muhammad of Ghori captured the Rajput town, and the Delhi Sultanate was established (1206). The invasion of Delhi by Timur in 1398 put an end to the sultanate; the Lodis, last of the Delhi sultans, gave way to Babur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal Empire. The early Mughal emperors favoured Agra as their capital, and Delhi became their permanent seat only after Shah Jahan built (1638) the walls of Old Delhi.

From Hindu Kings to Muslim Sultans, the reins of the city kept shifting from one ruler to another. The soils of the city smell of blood, sacrifices and love for the nation. The old 'Havelis' and edifices from the past stand silent but their silence also speaks volumes for their owners and people who lived here centuries back.

In the year 1803 AD, the city came under the British rule. In 1911, British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It again became the center of all the governing activities. But, the city has the reputation of over throwing the occupants of its throne. It included the British and the current political parties that have had the honour of leading free India.

After independence in 1947, New Delhi was officially declared as the Capital of India.

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