Delhi, Dilli, Dehli, Dillika were just a few names given to this majestic city. Its legacy is Pre-Historic and has seemed to be started from the mythical city of Indraprastha where the mighty Pandavas ruled.
Over the period of time, Delhi was won by many rulers and hence each one establishing their own city.
The first settlers being the Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata were said to be settled near the banks of Yamuna river. It is a Mythical city still because not much evidence has been found, except a few pottery items and an inkling of a village nearby called “Inderpet”. It is believed to exist inside the Old Fort or Purana Qila of today.
Let’s have a look at the 7 cities of Delhi, and how you can still visit them and if you remain quite enough you might just be able to hear a battle cry:
First City of Delhi:
Qila Rai Pithora
It is believed that after the Pandavas reigns finished, the city was taken over by the “Tomar Dynasty”
To be precise, the ruler Anangpal Tomar is often referred as the father of “Delhi” who coined the name for the city. (it’s controversial whether the said king found Delhi or another king named Dhillu) This was in the 10th century and Tomars were a Rajput clan which built the city’s fist defense by building a fortress called “Lal Kot”.
The next generation started with Prithviraj Chauhan taking over the reins and further building the fortress into a city and calling it “Qila Rai Pithora”
The fort now lies in ruins and the ramparts can be seen near the Qutub Minar.
How to Reach by the Metro: It is located between Mehrauli and Saket. These are fort ruins and not much of it is left anyway to see. The nearest Metro station is Malviya Nagar
Second city of Delhi
So Mr. Chauhan was eventually defeated in a bloody war with Md. Ghori, this was the most defining moment of Delhi history, as the rise of the Muslim Sultanates began from here and so did Slave dynasty. Md. Ghori went back but left behind Qutubuddin Aibak as the Viceroy of India, who soon became the self-proclaimed “Sultan” of India.
So began the destruction of Hindu architecture to be replaced by Islamic. Mr. Aibak started creating History, literally, and thus was instrumental in the making of the second city of Delhi, called as Mehrauli.
Today the finest example of such architecture can be found in the Qutub Complex as well as the Mehrauli Archeological park.
This is a must visit in Delhi.
How to reach by metro : Take the metro to Qutub Minar and explore the monuments situated nearby. To reach the Mehrauli Archeological Park, take a rickshaw and reach the Garden entry. There are several monuments in the park including a Baoli, a beautiful tomb, a boat house, a summer retreat and much more.
Third City of Delhi:
No, it’s not your iOS assistant Siri, but the city Siri, founded by the Khilji dynasty. Post Aibak, the Khilji dynasty thrived for years and the most prominent Sultans amongst them was Allauddin Khilji.
Today we all prominently know it as our Swanky, very chic Food hub “Hauz Khas Village”
Khilji’s created the reservoir known as Hauze Khas to solve the depleting water levels of Delhi, and a fort surrounding it. He threw in some Schools (Madrasa) as well
No doubts that the city is striving still, amalgamating the old and the new in the same place.
How to reach by metro: Take the yellow line and get down at the Hauz Khas metro station. From there hail a rickshaw and reach your destination.
Fourth City of Delhi:
Then came the Tughlaqs. Well, they were known as tyrant rulers and were not much interested in devoting time on Architecture like his predecessors.
They created a huge fort which till today stands tall (at least the outer walls stands intact) the insides are in complete ruins and is famously known as the Tughlaqabad Fort.
How to reach by metro: You can take the violet line and reach the Tughlaqabad metro station, from there on, buses, auto rickshaws or taxis are the only way to reach the monument.
Fifth City of Delhi:
One of the Tughlaqs went ahead and made another city for himself, of course and named it, after himself Kotla Feroze Shah. It had palaces, mosque, gardens, water tank etc inside the building itself. He was one of the very few rulers who didn’t only make new structures but also repaired most of the glory to remaining architecture of Delhi.
Today all that we know of this city is due to the famous Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium, but my friends this fifth city of Delhi still holds a lot of mystery.
Did you know that even today, people come to this fort for praying to the Djinns ?
Yep, the stories are interesting enough for me to explore this facet in another post.
For now, take a visit:
How to reach by metro: The nearest metro station is Pragati Maidan, from there hail a cab or auto rickshaw.
Sixth City of Delhi:
Shergarh or Dinpanah
This is my personal favorite out of the seven, cause of many mysteries surrounding its origin still.
So the books say that Sher Shah wrestled this city from Humayun and called it Sher Garh which would have been called Dinpanah if Humayun remained on the throne. However, Sher Shah destroyed most of what was built by Humayun and started building his own city. But as fate would have it, beloved Humayun returned and ousted Sher Shah and completed the left over the construction of this massive fort.
This is famously known by us today as Purana Qila (Old Fort)
The mystery behind this area is that it might have been the famed Indraprastha – the heavenly abode of the Pandavas. Even today excavations are underway to prove so.
The whole point is, it is pretty and maintained well. There’s even a Light and Sound show in the evenings.
How to reach by metro: Nearest one is Pragati Maidan, from there hail an auto rickshaw
Seventh City of Delhi:
Shahjahan, the Emperor of Love, who gave us the Taj Mahal, was the mastermind behind this seventh city and called it Shahjahanabad.
Grandson of the greatest Mughal ruler Akbar, he was responsible for creating what became the seat of power for decades to come after Shahjahan. He created the Red Fort, Jama Masjid the two most famous structures of the current Old Delhi, also famously known as Chandni Chowk.
Even today this walled city with its intricate gullies (lanes) and bazaars seem to be standing still in time. It is here that the old comes to life when you suddenly encounter a 100-year-old Haveli (palace) and get awestruck by its grandeur.
It still is a thriving marketplace for thousands, people who have been living here from ages, don’t seem to mind the chaos. Often I have been told by the residents that would not give up this part of the city for the modern comforts because this place has a history and soul.
How to reach by metro: There are a couple of Metro stations which lead to this labyrinth. You may choose to get down at Chandni Chowk Metro station or Chawri Bazar.
Do not miss my other post on the best foods of Old Delhi here while you are at this place, why not make out the most of it.
That was the tale of the seven cities, however, there are few others which make it to the list of more cities of Delhi:
- Mythical city of INDRAPRASTHA – The current Old Fort. Its mythical since no solid evidence has been found about its existence however just before the British took over, there was a village in the same spot called Inderpet and also some Pottery has been found from the ground which dates back to the Mahabharata era.
- Lodhi Complex – a number of spectacular monuments built by the Lodhis are also on the run for the status of being called a city
- Jahanpanah – Also built by Tughlaq, apart from Tughlaqabad is in the race too
- Last but not the least the LUTYENS Delhi, the city built by the British which is today called as the New Delhi.
I hope you will someday visit all the cities and bring back your own stories.
If you need any assistance to plan the trip, just drop a message and I will be glad to help.