The historical tales and folklore about Delhi can be traced back up to 3500 yrs BC to the period of Mahabharata and Indraprastha and isn't it just fascinating. Few footprints of the Mauryan and the Gupta dynasty (around 300 BC) have also been found here but it might just be a coincidence. But one thing is evident that Delhi has been inhabited since then and now it’s just a matter of who and when. Marks of the Empires from the early 15th century can be seen easily and are scattered all over Delhi. Here’s a peek into the history...
|Iron Pillar at Qutub Complex|
Iron pillar of this era dates around 400 BC. It was commissioned by some ruler of the Gupta dynasty and relocated to its current place in Qutub complex later. It is notable for it's rust-resistant composition of the metals. It stood centuries against the weather but a fence had to be erected around the pillar in 1997 in response to damage caused by visitors ( It was considered good luck if one could stand with one's back to the pillar and make one's hands meet behind it. Remember, Cheeni Kam).
Qutub Minar of this era is world's tallest brick minaret and it was commissioned in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the founder and first sultan of Mamluk dynasty.
Tughlak dynasty (1320- 1413)
They built two cities in/around Delhi over the span of 100 years. Tughlaqabad and Firozabad, each fashioned around a grand fort. Mohammad bin Tughlaq of this dynasty (Remember, Chak De India) and renowned traveller Ibn Batutah who has a Bollywood song for him (Remember, Ishquiya) might sound familiar.Remnants of their Architectural glory lies at: Tughlaqabad fort, Wazirabad mosque, Firoz shah kotla fort & Firoz shah’s tomb at Hauz khas.
Sayyid Dynasty (1414 – 1451)
The remains of this dynasty overlap with that of Lodi dynasty.Tomb of Mohammad shah (3rd of the 4 rulers of the empire) can be seen at Lodi Gardens
|Sikander Lodi's Tomb Bada Gumbad with Mosque Mohammad Shah's Tomb|
Lodi dynasty (1451 – 1526)
Lodi gardens at the heart of the city dates back to the 15th century. After recommissioning and beautification it was named 'Lady Willingdon park' but after independence got it’s current name.
Suri dynasty (1540 – 1553)
Purana Qila was built by Sher Shah Suri and he also released the first rupiya /rupee of India.
Hemu (Hemchandra Vikramaditya) took control over Delhi for a short period (1553 - 1556) but ultimately fell to Akbar's armies.
Mughal empire (1556 – 1857)
Akbar took his capital to Agra until Shah Jahan built the city of Shahjahanabad (today’s old Delhi) including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid and moved back to Delhi in 1638.
|View of Lal Qila from Jama Masjid|
British East India Company
They took control of Delhi in 1858 but their capital remained at Calcutta. In 1911 King George V announced the shifting of the capital back to Delhi and an extravagant architectural makeover of Delhi took place, also popularly known as Lutyen’s Delhi. In 1920's & 1930's Edward Lutyen designed and erected the Rashtrapati Bhawan, India Gate and Rajpath.
India gate was a memorial for WWI martyrs but Amar Jawan Jyoti was added at its base after 1971 Bangladesh war and it has served as the 'tomb of the unknown soldier' since then.
Cannaught place was designed by Robert Tor Russell and the Secretariat building including PM Office and parliament house by Herbert baker.