Lal Kot or Qila ‘Rai Pithora’

The stretch of Delhi extending between the Old Fort area to the urban village of Mehrauli in the southern part of the city is heavily loaded with history. One such example is that of a fort city that existed around a thousand years back. Known as ‘Lal Kot’ or the Qila Rai Pithora, this happened to be the second city of Delhi. The lack of concrete evidence to support the presence of Indraprastha as the first city of Delhi also leads to the belief that Lal Kot should in fact be accorded the coveted status of being the first city. Whether first or second, one thing that can be said surely about this city is that its ruins offer a fascinating view. Even though the only part of this once great fort city that still stands tall is its boundary wall, just being there evokes a very interesting sense of history in the bystander. The bustling life in the village that adjoins the ruins of this fort is a humbling reminder of our mortality and how life goes on, no matter what.

Initially Lal Kot was ruled by the Tomars, the founders of Delhi. It was soon captured by the Chauhan Kings of Ajmer and eventually fortified by Prithviraj Chauhan. Also known as Rai Pithora, it was after him that this fort city was renamed. This Rajput ruler’s reign ended with the second battle of Tahrain in 1192 in which he was defeated by the Muslim ruler Muhammad Gori. Legend has it that Prithviraj Chauhan was blinded after being captured and taken to Afghanistan. According to this story it is believed that Prithiviraj took his revenge by killing Muhammad Gori by a ‘shabda-bhedi’ arrow (a firing that is guided by hearing the sounds that the target makes). No matter which legend you choose to believe, do visit the ruins of this historical city which is currently spread over Saket, Mehrauli, Kishangarh and Vasant Kunj areas of Delhi. The best view can be had from the complex of Adham Khan’s tomb located at the entry point of Mehrauli.

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