Delhi has been a political center for various empires around the Indian subcontinent. More than 14 major dynasties had reigned over the modern-day capital of India. Somewhere and somehow, they left their marks in this ancient city so deep that even today; few centuries after their legacies can still be found here.
With a millennium, of being under various rulers who hailed from many different cultural ethnicities, Delhi has been gifted with rich culture which integrated and evolved into a culture one of its kind.
Mixture of many different cultures from all over the Indian-subcontinent makes Culture of Delhi rich and diverse one. Many different dynasties built their own capital cities inside or in the surrounding of Delhi, making them their capital. Each of dynasties built these cities as new headquarters for the consideration of prestige.
Historians speak of the “Seven cities of Delhi”:
The oldest city near Qutab minar, Mehrauli
In 1206, Qutubuddin Aibak took over Delhi from the Chauhans and established the first Islamic empire over Delhi. Qutubuddin Aibak began building Islamic structures that were later incorporated in his city – Mehrauli.
What is now left of this majestic city can be observed in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and the Qutab Archaeological Area.
Siri (Haus Khas)
Siri was built in 1300’s, during the reign of Allauddin Khilji, to defend the dynasty from the invaders from the Northern-Asia. The present day Hauz Khas and its surrounding were then called Siri. Hauz Khas derives its name from the Royal Water Tank . The Saljuqian architectural style can be observed in this, now ruined city.
In 1320, Ghiasuddin Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty defeated Nasiruddin Mohammed and founded the city of Tughlaqabad. He got the Tughlaqabad Fort constructed in the city. The splendid ruins of the majestic fort still remain with high battlements. There were eleven rulers from the Tughlak dynasty but only the first three generations were interested in architecture-raising mosques, caravan, sarais, madrasas and laying canals.
Muhammad bin Tughlaq ascended the throne after his father Ghiasuddin Tughlaq; he shifted the capital of the empire from Tughlaqabad to Daulatabad, Devgiri, in Aurangabad District of Deccan. But the scarcity of water forced him to shift back to Delhi in 1334 and then he founded his new capital city – Jahanpanah or the World’s Asylum – very close to his former capital of Tughlaqabad.
After a disastrous reign by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, his son Firoz Shah had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to bring some stability to his empire. Firozabad or Firoz Shah Kotla was built by Sultan Feroz. The whole city was well planned and consisted of various different palaces, pillared halls, mosques, pigeon tower, water tank and many more.
The city around Purana Qila, Shergarh
Purana Qila (Old Fort) was built during the reign of Sher Shah Suri in his capital city of Shergarh. It was originally being built by Humayun as his capital, Dinpanah in 1540. Sher Shah suri after defeating the Mughal emperor captured Dinpanah and started building his own capital introducing different architectural features. Delhi was won back by the Mughals Humayun in 1555 and they completed parts of the Purana Qila left unfinished by Sher Shah. The ruins of Humayun and Sher Shah's creations are today a big tourist attraction.
Shah Jahan, the greatest Mughals emperor after Akhbar, the man who for his beloved built something so beautiful that it is now part of present day wonder of the worlds, Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan also built the city of Shahjahanbad – the present-day Old Delhi. The city remained the capital of the Mughal Sultanate from 1639 till the dawn of the Mughal Dynasty. The walled city was known for its royal architecture, intricate lanes, mosques & gardens. It was once the abode of nobles and members of the royal court.. The Jama Masjid and the Red Fort are two excellent examples of the architectural splendor of the 17th c.