Purana Qila – One of the oldest forts in Delhi

Purana Qila meaning Old Fort was initially known as Shergarh & Sher Fort. It is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. Its history is as old as some 2500 years from the time of pre-Mauryan period. The foundation of the present fortress began during the time of Humayun and its construction continued till the time of Sher Shah Suri. This site is sometimes associated with Indraprastha which is known as the capital of Kingdom of Pandavas from Mahabharat in ancient times.

Purana Qila
Image credit: Wikipedia

Visiting Detail

  • Location: Mathura Rd, Near Delhi Zoo, Delhi 110003
  • Timings: 07:00 am to 05:00 pm
  • Architecture: Indo Islamic Afghan architecture 
  • Built By: Sher Shah Suri 
  • Completed: Year 1192


Surveys by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

It has been revealed by the traces found in the site that the fortress was existed during the time of pre-Mauryan period.  The director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), BB Lal excavated the traces of Painted Grey Ware culture in 1954–55 and then in 1969–72. During that time Lal had commenced to dig out the traces in many sites that are mentioned in Mahabharata text. He found that the traces were common in those sites. These traces proved  to be the site of the kingdom of Pandavas from Mahabharata which proved to be the 900 BCE old site.

Some time later, Dr. Vasant Kumar Swarnkar (2013-14 and 2017-18) from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated and proved the site of Purana Qila had continuous occupancy from Pre-Mauryan to the British period. He said that he did not find the traces of Painted Grey Ware culture which proves that this was the site of the kingdom of Pandavas from Mahabharata. Though a british army engineer Alexander Cunningham found the connection of Purana Qila with the site of Indraprastha. But he said that the present structure was built by the muslims.

Sher Shah Suri and Humayun 

Purana Qila has the original connection with the construction of Dinpanah (new city of Delhi) which was constructed by the second Mughal Emperor Humayun. Later Sher Shah Suri, the founder of the Suri Empire defeated Humayun. He then made changes in the fort to make it strong and completed the walls. Shah made many changes inside the fort. He had also built another fort Shergarh which was the residence of the governor. Later his contribution in the construction was disputed.

As per persian Islamic scholar, Muhammad Khwand Amir, Humayun was the initial contributor in the construction of the fort. Moreover, the walls and the fortifications were mostly finished during Humayun’s time.

Purana Qila and its surroundings was developed as the “sixth city of Delhi”. Hem Chandra Vikramaditya who was a hindu King was crowned in 1556 who had defeated the forces of Akbar in the battle of Tughlakabad in 1556.

In 1947 during the partition of India. Purana Qila and its nearby areas were converted to refugee camps for muslims who were migrating to newly formed country Pakistan.

Attractions near Purana Qila

  • National Zoological Park:  Distance: 350m
  • Children’s Park:  Distance: 1.7km
  • National Science Centre:  Distance: 1.7km
  • India Gate:  Distance: 2.3km
  • National Gallery of Modern art:  Distance: 1.3km
  • National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy:  Distance: 2.5km
  • Isa Khan’s Tomb:  Distance: 2.7km
  • Sikandar Lodi Tomb:  Distance: 2.6km
  • Amar Jawan Jyoti:  Distance: 2.3km
  • Sunder Nursery:  Distance: 2.7km
  • Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah:  Distance: 2.9km
  • National War Memorial:  Distance: 2.5km