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Qila Rai Pithora

One of the most ancient historical structures in the old city of Delhi that has been preserved to this day is the Qila Rai Pithora or Rai Pithora’s fort, built around the fortified Citadel complex of Lal Kot, covering an area of 6 square kilometres. It is the first historical evidence of the old city of Delhi that was found, aside from prehistoric relics of Indraprastha excavated around the present-day Purana Qila dated to the classical age of the epic Mahabharata. Lal Kot comprises an inner citadel raised and fortified for a garrison. Qila Rai Pithora comprises an enormous fortification around the city surrounding Lal Kot. The Qila Rai Pithora fortifications consist of impregnable walls, tall towers and bastions guarded by deep ditches along with Ananga Lake. Qila Rai Pithora with the remnants of its majestic walls, towers and the vast city serves as an evidence of the strength, prosperity and glory of pre-Islamic Delhi and India.

History of Qila Rai Pithora

Delhi is the site of Pandava, the prehistoric capital of Indraprastha from the ages of the epic Mahabharata. The first historical evidence of fortifications in Delhi to be found is Lal Kot, which is a fortified citadel built by famous Tomara King Anangapal around 736 AD. In the area surrounding Lal Kot the old city of Dilli (Delhi) was raised, which has become a highly important political, cultural and economic centre of Northern and North-Western India. In the 11th century AD, the citadel of Lal Kot along with the city of Dilli fell into the hands of the Chahamanas or the Chauhana kings of Ajmer (Ajaymeru). Being well aware of the strategic importance of the city, Chahamana king Vigraharaja II started building up fortifications around the settlement. This endeavour continued under King Someshvara, and under King Someshvara’s son King Prithviraj these fortifications were restructured in the form of a stronghold that came to be known as Qila Rai Pithora, named after King Prithviraj himself, who was called Rai Pithora by the contemporary Persian chroniclers (‘Rai’ meaning Raja or King, and ‘Pithora’ meaning Prithviraj). (more in the history section)

The Qila Rai Pithora you can see today

As of today, the ruins of Qila Rai Pithora are maintained in an area of a 20-acre-large DDA conservation park of Mehrauli in Delhi. The park has an 18-feet-high statue of Prithviraj Chauhan, a library, and an interesting museum with an exhibition of early-medieval Indian artefacts. Remains of the fort walls of Qila Rai Pithora are scattered across South Delhi, and can be seen in the present-day Saket, Mehrauli around the Qutb complex, Kishangarh and Vasant Kunj. This includes the famous Qutb Minar Complex. It is has been made into a major tourist attraction related to the old Delhi, depicting the past glory of the sultanate of Northern India along with the early Islamic era noted by the presence of the Qutb Minarets and a minaret complex in its vicinity. Archaeologists say that Qila Rai Pithora, which covered an area of 6 square kilometres, had thirteen gates, most of which are points on the archaeological maps today and many of which are hidden under more recent structures, especially in Vasant Kunj. The huge ditch that protects the fortifications from the external world can be found around the Mehrauli complex. Remains of an even older citadel Lal Kot can be found today in the form of mounds and rounded ruins of brick bastions. Relics, artefacts and coins found in the archaeological site of Qila Rai Pithora, primarily golden and silver, serve as a testimony of the past wealth and grandeur of Lal Kot and Qila Rai Pithora. Dilliwala coins found on the excavation sites are mostly made of gold, which gives an idea of the economic prosperity in the prehistoric sultanate of India. The complex also houses the tomb of Razia Sultana on the outskirts, a simple construction of sandstone which can be overlooked by a tourist if not aware of its location. Several parts of the former fortress and the old city inside it fall beyond the immediate complex comprising the museum and the library, and tourists may have to walk forward to get a glimpse of the remaining fort walls and ruins of erstwhile palaces.

Opening hours for the complex

Opens at 7 AM. Closes at 7 PM.
Open on all seven days of the week, no entry fee.
Optional guide fee. We advise you to check the guide’s government registration card before purchasing his/her services, as government registered guides have fixed hourly rates.