Delhi, the capital of India, the nation`s heart has remained a historically important city. It has been the most important city in the country for the greatest part of its history. Legend holds that this was the place where the ancient city of Pandavas, Indraprastha, was established. The area has shown signs of inhabitation from the Maurya period. However, the city was established as a proper kingdom, much later. From the time it was established under the Tomara king, through the Slave dynasty, Mamluk, Tughluq, Khilji, Sayyid, Lodi dynasty and much of the Mughal rule, it had been a kind of virtual capital of the country. Then in 1857, it was again the capital of the British India and again became the capital of the country after the Independence.
Historically, there have been seven cities of Delhi, prior to the modern city of New Delhi. The current NCT of Delhi comprises all these cities.
Let us have a look at the ancient cities of Delhi:
Lal Kot was the first city of Delhi built in 1052 A.D. by Tomara ruler, Anangpala Tomara. In 1180 A.D., after becoming the ruler of Delhi, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, extended it and fortified it against invaders, and it was called Qila Rai Pithora. Remains of the fort wall can be seen in South Delhi, in the areas around Qutub Complex. The area, most of which now falls inside Mehrauli was also the seat of Mamluk Dynasty.
It was the second city of Delhi and built by Alauddin Khilji, the well-known ruler of the Khilji Dynasty, which came into power after the Mamluks. It was built chiefly to defend the city against Mongol invasions. A large reservoir was built inside it, called Hauz Khas, now a well-known hangout spot against the ruins of a fort.
It was built by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, as the third city of Delhi in 1320 A.D and later abandoned in 1327 A.D. Tughlaq also built the Qutub-Badarpur Road which connected the city to the Grand Trunk Road. The city is connected with a curse of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia who cursed the king that the city would either fall or conquered. Soon after, the death of the king in 1324, the city was abandoned in 1327, and was conquered by Gujjars after the fall of the sultanate.
It is the fourth city of Delhi established in 1326-1327 by Mohammad bin Tughlaq, successor of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. It was chiefly built in the area between Qila Rai Pithora and Siri Fort. Neither the city nor the fort survives today.
It was built by Firuz Shah Tughlaq in 1354 A.D. who succeeded his cousin Mohammad bin Tughlaq. The only structure of the palace that remains today is the palace, Feroz Shah Kotla. On the top of his palace, the king planted an Ashokan pillar of 1500 years ago.
It was built by Sher Shah Suri. He built the Purana Qila in its present form, probably at the same site where once Indraprastha had been, after he defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun, who was building his own city Dinpanah at the site. He razed the city of Dinpanah and built his own city. After his death, Humayun gained control of Delhi again and completed the unfinished parts of Purana Qila.
It was built by Shahjehan, grandson of Akbar, the fifth Mughal ruler. Within the walled city, the famous Red Fort and Jama Masjid were built. Todays, Chandni Chowk was inside the city and contained mansions of nobles back then. Shajanabad remained the capital of Mughal dynasty until its fall.