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Delhi history

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Delhi is said to consist of seven successive cities, with British-built New Delhi making an eighth. In truth, Delhi has centred historically on three main areas: Lal Kot and extensions to its northeast, where the city was located for most of the Middle Ages; Old Delhi, the city of the Mughals, founded by Shah Jahan in the seventeenth century; and New Delhi, built by the British just in time to be the capital of independent India.

Timeline

c.1450 BC

Pandavas (heroes of the Mahabharata) have their capital at Indraprastha, near Purana Qila

1060 AD

Tomars (Rajput clan) found Lal Kot, considered the first city of Delhi

1180

Chauhans (rival Rajput clan) oust Tomars and rename the city Qila Lal Pithora

1191

Qila Lal Pithora falls to the Afghan Muslim armies of Muhammad of Ghor

1206

Muhammad of Ghor’s general, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, sets up as an independent ruler, founding the Delhi Sultanate

1211–36

Sultan Iltutmish makes Delhi the capital of lands stretching from Punjab to Bengal

1290

Khaljis, from Central Asia, overthrow Qutb-ud-din’s “Slave Dynasty” and take over as Delhi sultans

1303

Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khalji commissions Siri, the second city of Delhi

1321

Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq ousts Khaljis, founds the Tughluq dynasty, and also Tughluqabad, the third city of Delhi

1326

Sultan Muhammad Tughluq founds Delhi’s fourth city, Jahanpanah, as an extension of Lal Kot, joining it to Siri

1354

As the sultanate gradually disintegrates, Sultan Firoz Shah founds the fifth city of Delhi at Firozabad

1398

Timur the Lame (Tamerlaine) invades and sacks Delhi, founding Sayyid dynasty

1444

Sayyids ousted by Buhul Lodi, whose family take over as Delhi sultans

1526

First Battle of Panipat: Mughal emperor Babur defeats Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, ending the Delhi Sultanate

1541

Sher Shah Suri ousts Babur’s son Humayun and founds the sixth city of Delhi at Purana Qila

1544

Humayun retakes Delhi but dies the following year

1565

Humayun’s son Akbar shifts the Mughal capital from Delhi to Agra

1638

Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan shifts the capital back to Delhi, creating its seventh city at Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi)

1739

Persian emperor Nadir Shah sacks Delhi, slaughtering 15,000 of its inhabitants as Mughal power crumbles

1784

The Marathas subdue Delhi, making the emperor their vassal

1803

In the Battle of Delhi, Britain’s East India Company defeat the Marathas and take over as effective rulers

1857

In the great uprising (First War of Independence), Delhi supports the insurgents, but the British retake the city with bloody reprisals, deposing the Mughals and expelling Muslim Delhiites for two years

1911

The British decide on a new Indian capital at Delhi as opposition to colonial rule mounts in Calcutta

1931

New Delhi officially inaugurated as capital of the Raj

1947

British hand over power in Delhi to India’s first elected government, but Hindu mobs drive many Muslims from the city, while Hindu and Sikh refugees flood in from Punjab and Bengal

1957

Delhi Development Authority (DDA) founded to plan the city’s development

1975–77

Indira Gandhi’s Emergency: forced evictions of Muslim slum-dwellers in Old Delhi

1984

Indira Gandhi’s assassination, followed by sectarian riots targetting Delhi’s Sikh population

1992

Delhi gains status of Capital Territory (CT), with its own government, but not full statehood; BJP take power in CT elections

1998

Congress Party wrests the CT from the BJP, holding power ever since

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