A very few cities in the modern world have histories as ancient and colorful as Delhi. Perhaps Rome or London comes close. “The City of Indra” or Indraprastha as it is hailed sometimes, would mean it is 5000 years old if true. It has been the seat of many rulers and dynasties over the last 5000 years. The Delhi triangle, as the historians call it, has Aravali range to the south and west with the Yamuna to the east. The discovery of Delhi is more a story of organic build over millennia than an event marking periods of history.
The area has been called Surajkund with remnants of water tanks from the 9th-10th century. Lakota as built by Anangpal in 1052 CE and later extended and fortified by Prithviraj Chauhan in the 12th century. It came to be known as Qila Rai Pithora and the seat of the Mamluk dynasty. This area is known as Mehrauli today.
Alauddin khilji built it as Siri to protect from the Mongols and later extended by Ghiyasuddin and Mohammad bin Tughluk. It took on the names of Tughlaqabad and Jahanpanah during their times. Firoz Shah Kotla, which is the area of Delhi’s International cricket stadium, is what remains of quarters known as Firozabad, built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq.
Humayun built Dinapanah, and Sher Shah Suri built Shergarh near the Indraprastha area. There have been few artifacts matching with the description from Mahabharata that has been found near this area. The evidence found is too scant to conclude anything on the existence of Indraprastha, the fabled City of Indra from Mahabharata.
Shah Jahan added another chapter in the story of Delhi when he built Chandni Chowk and the Lal Qila area, and it served as the capital of the Mughal empire during his reign. Chandni Chowk created for his daughter Jahanara as a market place still is one of the busiest markets in Delhi. This area is referred to as Old Delhi, even today.
Edward Lutyen, the British architect, built more and extended Delhi in the 1920s and 1930s; this area is still known as Lutyens Delhi. Post Independence, however, more is built around all these layers of history and mortar to make Delhi what it is today. Since 1911 Delhi has been the capital of India and has been expanding its reach into the higher land area over the past few decades.
Thus Delhi is a living entity, and thousands of travelers discover Delhi every day when they make way between brick and mortar laced with history and characters.