Indraprastha : The First City of Delhi

Delhi being the city of cities we decided to bring to you a special series covering each city of Delhi. Keeping temporal sensibilities in mind, we start with what is known as the first city of Delhi – Indraprastha. It was located in the area where Old Fort or Purana Qila stands today. Though there is disagreement in some academic circles about which city can actually be considered the first city, we begin with this one in accordance with a couple of historical facts which will be revealed in the next few lines.


The Indian legend of Mahabharata has it that this city was constructed by the five Pandava brothers in the forest village of Khandavprastha. The city was so named because the palace they built there was styled on Lord Indra’ palace. Built sometime between 1500 to 800 BC there are two slightly different versions of how this city was established. While one has it that it was the sage Vyas who led the Pandava rulers to the site of this city, the other claims it was Lord Krishna who played that role. Whoever be the leader, the location of the city is considered to be ideal according to the principles of Vastu Shastra. Situated on the western banks of river Yamuna which was flowing from North to South, this city was flanked by the Aravali on the western side which protected it from enemies. King Yudhishtra, the eldest Pandava, is said to have built Nigambodh Ghat and the Nili Chattri Temple. These two sites of Delhi are in use till date! Although the city has disappeared completely now, there are a couple of other reasons which make the presence of this erstwhile city believable. This city finds a mention in a variety of literary sources like Buddhist and Jain literature dating from 6th century BC. According to Abul Fazl’s Ain-i-Akbari, the fort of Pandavas was repaired by Humayun who renamed it to Dinpanah.

Asi at indraprastha

It is believed that the Purana Qila was built over this magnificent city. If you want to get a feel of this legendary city, all you need is a tad bit of imagination and a trip to the Old Fort!

Where: Pragati Maidan, next to Delhi Zoo, on Mathura Road.

Nearest Metro: Pragati Maidan Station (a fifteen minute walk from there, or a five minute three wheeler ride)

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