February 24, 2016

Qila Rai Pithora - The first city of Greater Delhi

Site Name: Qila Rai Pithora
Site Type: Historical
Location:  Mehrauli, Delhi, India
Highlights: The first city of Delhi

Nearest Railway Station: Delhi
Nearest Airport: Delhi
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Delhi city
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the city

I am just wondering if there is any other city/town in India which enjoys the continuity of status for such a long period like Delhi. Excluding the Mahabharat period and the other pre-historic periods, if we go purely on the basis of historical records, we can call Delhi as 'The City of Seven Cities'. Lal Kot is the first such city. If we call Lal Kot as the first city of Delhi, we can call Qila Rai Pithora as the first city of Greater Delhi. Let me talk about this site in this article.


Anangpal Tomar is believed to be the founder of Delhi. Nothing much is known about his period or other details. He belonged to the Tomar Rajputs dynasty. They were probably feudatories of Gurjara-Pratihara rulers. Tomars established themselves in the Aravalli hills south of Delhi. The period must be sometime in the 10th century CE (It cannot be 8th century as claimed by Wikipedia or other websites).

Anangpal Tomar is said to have built Lal Kot, the first known defence work in Delhi. Lal Kot is the core of the first city of Delhi. 

King Vigraharaja IV, who was also called as Visaladeva or Bisaldeo, of the Chauhan dynasty (a.k.a. Chahamana dynasty) of Sakambhari (modern day Sambhar region) captured Delhi from Tomars in the second half of 12th century CE. 

Vigraharaja's grandson was Prithviraj Chauhan III, who was also called as Rai Pithora, the popular historical figure and who is the hero of the stories of Hindu resistance against the Muslim invaders. He extended the Lal Kot by constructing another fort and named it as Qila Rai Pithora. Thus, we can call it as the extension of Delhi or formation of Greater Delhi of those days. 

Muhammad bin Sam of Ghur invaded Qila Rai Pithora twice. In his second attempt, he defeated Prithviraj and captured Qila. His slave Qutbud-Din Aibak was made as the Viceroy of Delhi. He enthroned himself as the Sultan of Delhi in 1206 CE and thus started the rule of slave dynasty in Delhi. 


Qila Rai Pithora is in ruins today, but it is in much better condition than Lal Kot. Its ramparts can be seen in Delhi-Qutb and Badarpur-Qutb roads. Malviya Nagar park is a better site to get glimpse on its ramparts. They are largely covered by debris and their entire circuit is not traceable. 

There were 13 gates originally. Now, only three of them namely Hauz-Rani, Barka and Budaun gates exist.

In Malviya Nagar park, near the ramparts the statue of King Rai Pithora was erected in the recent past.

Happy travelling.

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