Delhi is the capital of India since old times. Delhi's history dates back to the first millenium BC, when it was known as Indraprastha. The Tomar Rajputs built Lal Kot, the core of the first of Delhi's seven cities. It is the epicenter of the nation's politics, economy and culture. History is alive and throbbing in Delhi, the capital of India.
It is often said that the history of India is the history of Delhi. New Delhi, the capital of India, has always occupied a strategic position in the country's history, as Hindu and Islamic dynasties have ruled from here, leaving their imprint in the form of relics, which recapture those bygonetimes. Delhi, is today, one of the fastest growing cities of India.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Delhi is the "visibility" of its historic past. Were it not for the demands of urbanization, large portions of the city could well be earmarked as archaeological parks. This is because the rulers of successive dynasties between the 13th and the 17th centuries established seven cities in different parts of Delhi. A chronological review of these cities fortunately also serves as a suitable itinerary for tourists and highlights the important monuments amongst the 1300 officially listed.
Delhi's history goes much further back in time than the 13th century. In 1955, excavations at the Purana Qila revealed that the site was inhabited 3000 years ago. Ware pottery known as Painted Gray Ware and dated to 1000 BC confirmed this as being yet another site associated with the epic Mahabharata. The excavations also cut through houses and streets of the Sultanate, Rajput, post-Gupta, Gupta, Saka-Kushan and Sunga periods, reaching down to the Mauryan era (300 BC), thus revealing almost continuous habitaion. The association of Emperor Ashoka (273-36 BC) with Delhi has come to light with the discovery of a Minor Rock Edict in the locality known as Srinivaspuri.
A clearer picture of the city emerges from the end of the 10th century, when the Tomar Rajputs established themselves in the in the Aravalli hills south of Delhi. The isolated, rocky outcrop facilitated the defence of the royal resort which the Rajputs called Dhilli or Dhillika. The core of the first of the seven cities was created by Anangpal Tomar who is said to have built Lal Kot, which is the first known regular defence work in Delhi. The Chauhan Rajputs later captured Delhi from the Tomars . Prithviraj III, also known as Rai Pithora, extended Lal Kot, adding massive ramparts and gates, and made Qila Rai Pithora the first city of Delhi.
Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931.
Formely the Viceregal Lodge, the building is the highlight of Lutyen's New Delhi and was completed in 1929 at a cost of 12,53,000 pound sterling. Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms.
So called because of the red stone with which it is built, the Red Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. India's history is also closely linked with this fort. It was frorth here ht the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bhadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of the three century long Mughal rule.
The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer. No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world.
The fort is said to be constructed on the historic site of Indraprastha (900BC) by Humayun and Sher Shah. Covering a circuit of about a mile, the walls of the fort have three gates and are surrounded by a mat fed by the river Yamuna.
At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears like a gallery of modern art. It is, however, an observatory. Sawai Jia Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments.
The mughals brought with them a love for gardens, fountains and water. The first mature example of Mughal architecture in India, Humayun's Tomb was built by the emperor's grieving widow, Haji Begum, in 1565 AD.
Work on the Jama Masjid mosque was begun in 1650 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to complement his palace at the Red Fort. More than 5,000 workers toiled for six years to complete the largest mosque in India. Every Friday, the emperor and his retinue would travel in state from the fort to the mosque to attend the congressional prayers.
Representing the last phase of the Mughal style of architecture, Safdarjang's Tomb stands in the centre of an extensive garden.
The mortal remains of mahatma Gandhi were cremated on this spot on the west bank of the river Yamuna on the evening of January 31, 1948.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Built in 1938, the temple is an ideal introduction to some of the gods of the India pantheon. The temple contains a large number of idols and visitors can also watch priests performing ritualistic prayers.
Best time to travel
Delhi is a palimpsest, bearing the complexities, the contradictions, the beauty and the dynamism of a city where the past coexists with the present. many dynasties ruled from here and the city is rich in the architecture of its monuments. The best time to visit any place is when the climate and temperate is moderate. As for Delhi, the temperature is at extreme for about half of the year.
So the ideal time to visit Delhi is during the seasons of February to April and August to November. During this time the nights are slightly cool and days are filled with mellow sunshine.