If one observed Delhi on an old history Map, here’s what one would see to the east of this plain flowed the River Yamuna. And to the west, the ridge, forming a triangle with the ape towards the North where the river meets the ridge. The base was, therefore, the line of low, broken hills, jutting from the ridge almost eastwards all the way to the river. The Delhi history has seen many turns down the line of time.
Furthermore, the Yamuna also flowed much closer to Old Delhi as opposed to now. In the Delhi history, the first four cities of Delhi were built in the rocky terrain and it is possible that tributaries of the Yamuna may have fed their daily need for water. Firozabad, the fifth city was the first city to actually be set on the Yamuna and other cities thereafter. Today, however, The River Yamuna flows at a distance from all of these as it has changed course over the year.
According to Delhi history, the original founder of Delhi probably chose the rocky Aravali hills in Mehrauli as his headquarters, for the strategic and military advantages it offered. Qutubuddin Aibak and some of his successors continued to live in Lal Kot / Qila Rai Pithora area for some years till Kaikobad moved to Kilokhari. Thus it was the necessity rather than caprice on part of the rulers, which required the shifting of Delhi to either stay near the water source to accommodate a growing population, or to build a strong defence.
This led to Delhi being built several times over-as as many as fourteen- till 1947 and changed the Delhi history but the popular notion-and perhaps even a romantic one-states seven times as only that many cities are still extant. The eighth city, the last one, was designed and built by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Some of the cities are
This falls in the Purana Qila area built by the Pandavas in 1450 BC. Yet, this city is still partly mythological. Since no conclusive proof has been found of its existence in this particular area.
Furthermore, according to popular legend, this city was built in honour of King Dhilu / Delu in the year 50 BC.
3. Lal Kot and Qila Rai Pithora
In addition to stretching from Lado Sarai to Mehrauli, this is the first city for which there exists proper documentation. Founded by Raja Anagpal Tomar in 736 AD. Consequently, this area was later expanded and renamed Qila Rai Pithora because of its famous ruler Raja Prithviraj Chauhan ( 1169-1191 AD).
4. Kilokhari / Kilughari / Qasr-e-Muizzi
In 1288, Sultan Kaikobad ( 1246-1266 AD), grandson of Sultan Balban, built this city near the present-day Maharani Bagh.
5. Siri or Dar-ul-Khilafat ( Seat of the Caliph)
Sultan Alauddin Khijli ( 1296 – 1316 AD), built this city between 1297 and 1307 AD to defend his kingdom against the Mongol invasions. Furthermore, its present-day location includes Shahpur Jat, Hauz Khas, Siri Fort and Green Park.
Built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq ( 1321-1325 AD) in 1321 AD.
The city was built by Sultan Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq (1325-1351 AD) between 1326-27 AD in the empty area near Mehrauli, Siri and Tughlaqabad.
Now known as Firoz Shah Kotla, this city was built by Sultan Firoz Shah Tuglaq (1351-1388 AD), in 1354 to the east of the existing city on the banks of the Yamuna.
Sultan Khijr Khan (1414-1421 AD) built this on the banks of the Yamuna ( near modern New Friends Colony ) in 1415. he was the founder of the Sayyed dynasty.
This city lies near Delhi’s south extension region and was built by Sultan Mubarak Shah ( 1421-1434 AD). Most of all there is still an area called Kotla Mubarakpur, no traces of the fort or the old city remains.
11. Dinpanah ( Refuge of the faithful )
Badshah Humayun ( 1531-1540 AD and again 1555-56 AD) established this in 1534, when he decided to set up Delhi as his capital. Also, it included the area around Purana Qila and extended till Humayun’s Tomb.
Dilli Sher Shahi was the name given by Sultan Sher Shah Suri to his seat of government after he defeated Emperor Humayun. In addition, he renamed the area marked as Dinpanah to Shergarh and expanded it.
This magnificent walled city was built by Badshah Shah Jahan in 1639 AD on the banks of Yamuna. Due to which is referred to as Old Delhi today.
14. Lutyens Delhi
Conceived and developed by British between 1912 and 1931 and named after its architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. This area is known as New Delhi.
The Oldest of these documented cities was Lal Kot / Qila Rai Pithora. This makes Mehrauli the real Old Delhi and not Shahjahanabad. Hence, it is popular as Old Delhi today. Furthermore, when Shahjahan built Shahjahanabad he built the city’s gates and named them. The areas the led to viz. Lahori Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Kabuli Gate. There was, most noteworthy, there still is one gate called Delhi Gate which was the odd one out. That’s when you realise that the ‘Delhi’ here refers to the old city of Mehrauli.