Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Indraprastha (1400 B.C.) - The Legacy of Delhi Vol 2

(In this edition of Delhi-iteful Tuesdays I am bringing to you the third part of this historical series The Legacy of Delhi.) 

Around 1400 B.C. there existed besides the banks of the River Yamuna (as per the ancient Indian text or epic 'The Mahabharata') the magnificent city of Indraprastha. It was the capital city of the kingdom of Pandava brothers and ruled by Yudhishthir(the eldest Pandava). It is next to the location of this fabled city that the current city of New Delhi stands.

Legends and Facts -
                                              Although there is not much physical evidence about the city but locals did claim that there existed a huge mound (which could have contained the remains of the city) upon which the Mughals built the Purana Qila or the Old Fort (which was the inner citadel of the city of Dinpanah). Until the year 1913 AD, a village called Indrapat did exist within the fort walls of Purana Qila (Old Fort). Also painted Grey Ware were excavated from this site which dated back to the times of 1500-1000 B.C.

Purana Qila (Old Fort)

Ramparts of Purana Qila (Old Fort ) as seen from its moat.

 Raisina Hill (with the Rashtrapati Bhawan at its backdrop)

There is another theory which suggests that the mound which might have contained the ruins of Indraprastha was not the one upon which the Purana Qila was built but the one upon which the current Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) of India stands. That hill is popularly known as the Raisina Hill. This hill, which could also have been confused with a large mound was visible from the Purana Qila and vice-versa.

Physical Map of Delhi with the location of 'Indraprastha' depicted on it.

History -
                   As per the 'The Mahabharata' the Demon Maya, who was said to be the best architect of his time, built the city and the palace of Indraprastha for the Pandavas after their Uncle King Dhritarashtra partitioned the Kingdom of Hastinapur (which was rightfully Yudhishtir's) into two in order to stem the rivalry between the Pandava brothers (see picture below) and the Kauravas (their cousins). The area for the palace was created by clearing the forests of Khandava by Arjuna and Lord Krishna (his friend and teacher). The palace built by Maya was said to be so magnificent that it invoked the jealousy of Pandavas cousin brother Duryodhana (Kaurava, eldest son of Dhritarashtra).

Here you see the five Pandava princes (heroes of the epic Mahabharata) with their shared wife-in-common Draupadi. The central figure is Yudhishthir. The two to his left are Bhima and Arjuna . Nakula and Sahadeva , the twins, are to his right. Their wife, at far right, is Draupadi .
(Picture by Bob King, sourced from Wikipedia)

 Krishna and Arjuna on the chariot

When Pandavas defeated the Kauravas in the great battle of Kurukshetra, and king Yudhisthir ascended the throne of Hastinapur, his brother Arjuna stayed at Indraprastha, with Lord Krishna, and looked after the borders of the kingdom. Yuyutsu - son of King Dhritarashtra (Kauravas), who switched sides to join the Pandavas right before the battle commenced, was installed as the king of Indraprastha after the battle.

Decline -
                   What happened to the physical remains of the city (if it existed) after the Mahabharata, is not clear as much of the ancient history of India is blurred.


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excuse me friend but you hav got a fact wrong. The pandavas left leaving the kingdom for parikshith not yuyutsu

Dear Anonymous Reader,
While you are right that the successor of the Pandavas was Parikshit but he sat on the throne at Hastinapur.
But Yuyutsu did take charge of Indraprastha 'After the War'. Check out

Appreciate for pointing out the other error though
- The Author