The roots of Old Delhi

There are two kinds of people in Delhi – those who know it and those who don’t. If you are one of the latter, then it’s never too late to begin!

In any discussion on the history of Delhi, one of the key things to know is that although Delhi had been a thriving city for centuries, as per recorded history, it is the City of seven Cities. New Delhi is the eighth city of Delhi. Six of these seven cities were established by a Mughal emperor with the first being established by the Tomar Rajputs and subsequently the Chauhan’s of Prithviraj Chauhan fame.

These seven cities are

  • Lal Kot or Qila Rai Pithora – famous in the current generation for, well, pretty much nothing! This is the area around the Saket, Vasant Kunj & Mehrauli & the Qutab Complex
  • Mehrauli – popularly the area around the Qutab Minar, Mehrauli Archaelogical Complex and the Mehrauli village
  • Siri – You of course know about Siri Fort!
  • Tughlakabad – that far off area in Delhi known for its industry
  • Firozabad or Feroze Shah Kotla – popular for the only cricket stadium that Delhi houses
  • Shergarh – Purana Qila area, and
  • Shahjahanabad – Old Delhi popular for Karim’s, Jama Masjid and much more

Each of these seven cities was built around a fort.

Shahjanabad, the 7th city, was built by Shah Jahan and is today known as Old Delhi. Prior to the construction of New Delhi, Mehrauli was often referred to as Old Delhi, after which Shahjahanabad was termed as Old Delhi. Most of it is still confined within the walls built by Shah Jahan and its gates some of which still stand today, namely, the Kashmere Gate, the Delhi Gate, the Turkman Gate and the Ajmeri Gate.

GointheCity organizes a history and food walk in Old Delhi which unlike run of the mill tours, covers some hidden gems of the area in addition to the popular sights.

Ghalib ki Haveli (Ghalib’s Mansion) is one such gem located in Old Delhi and is declared as a heritage site by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). It is located in Gali Qasim Jan, Ballimaran and was the residence of the legendary poet of the waning period of the Mughal era, Mirza Ghalib. Ghalib lived at this Haveli for a long period of his life after he came to Delhi from Agra and wrote many of his poetic compositions here. The Delhi government acquired a portion of the Haveli in 1999 and has been restored significantly giving a glimpse into the Mughal life during its heydays. It is presently a memorial museum housing many objects related to Ghalib and the era.

To be continued…

Visit for details of the indicated walk