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History of Delhi

Delhi, located on the banks of river Yamuna, has been continuously inhabited since 6th century BC. It is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, the legendary capital of the Pandavas in Mahabharath around 3500 BC. According to the Persian historian Firishta, Delhi was founded by Raja Dhilu in 800 BC. Other etymologists say the name De-h-li meaning a gateway, was the door to the rest of India. According to Vibudh Shridhar and other authors, 'Dhili' was founded by Tomara ruler, Anangpal. Lal Kot built by the Tomar was renamed Qila Rai Pithora after Prithvi Raj Chauhan. It was a thirteen-gated fort in Delhi. Prithviraj, Chauhan king was the second last Hindu king of Delhi.

During its history, Delhi has been the site of 11 different cities. The first instance of the region being capitalized was in the Ancient Era, during the time of the Mahabharata War, when the five Pandava brothers built an immense and highly sophisticated fortress called Indraprastha and ruled the country from there. Later on, came the following-

  • Mehrauli, built by Qutubuddin Aibak in twelfth century.
  • Siri, built by Alauddin Khalji in 1303.
  • Tughluqabad, built by Ghiyasuddin Tughluq (1321–1325).
  • Jahanpanah, built by Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325–1351).
  • Ferozabad, built by Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351–1388).
  • Dinpanah built by Humayun and Shergarh built by Sher Shah Suri, both in the area near the speculated site of the legendary Indraprastha (1538–1545).
  • Lodi Complex, built by the Lodi rulers and the least significant of all dynasties of Delhi Sultanate (1451–1526).
  • Shahjahanabad, the walled city built by Shah Jahan from 1638 to 1649, containing the Lal Qila and the Chandni Chowk. It was the capital of the Mughal Empire during Shah Jahan's reign. It is presently referred to as "Old Delhi".
  • Lutyens' Delhi or New Delhi, the city built by the British on the south-west, declared Capital on December 12, 1911.

Delhi is referenced in various idioms of the Northern Indo-Aryan languages. Examples include -

  • “Abhi Dilli door hai” (or, its Persian version, Hanouz Dehli dour ast)  literally meaning Delhi is still far away, which is generically said about a task or journey still far from completion. In Persian Del or Dili can mean heart, while other meanings include cordial, centre, love, etc.
  • “Dilli dilwalon ka shehr” or “Dilli Dilwalon ki” meaning Delhi belongs to the large-hearted/daring.
  • “Aas-paas barse, Dilli pari tarse”, literally meaning it pours all around, while Delhi lies parched. An allusion to the sometimes semi-arid climate of Delhi, it idiomatically refers to situations of deprivation when there is plenty all around.
  • “Dilli kee sardi”, a proverb used to refer to the winters of Delhi, which amidst the concrete build-up of the metropolis and the immense greens looks breathtaking. Popularly used in Bollywood, including a song, this proverb highlights the chilly and beautiful Delhi winters where temperatures just manage to stay above the 0°C mark.

The people of Delhi are referred to as Dilliwallahs or Delhiites. In the modern day, Delhi or the National Capital Territory of Delhi is a union territory and has a governance structure very similar to a state.

Here are some beautiful pictures of Delhi through the lens of very talented Niloy. He shot these pictures when he was in his high school . Click on the image to see it enlarged. If you have some beautiful shots of Delhi that you would like to share, please load them on our Facebook Fan page by clicking here.

History of Delhi