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Excavations – Important – Delhi


Lal-Kot (28°32′; 77°11′), Delhi

An irregular fort enclosure within which the famous Qutub-Minar stands.It is reputed to have been built by a Tomara Anangapala, possibly to be identified with Anangapala II, who figures in certain dyriastic lists and whose name with samvat 1100 (A.D. 1052) is inscribed on the iron pillar of Chandra. Its extension on the n. and w. bounded again by massive stone walls, is known as Qila Rai Pithora and is ascribed to the Chauhana king Prithviraja III, also known as Rai Pithora, who was defeated by Muhammad Ghuri. The two enclosures together have long been known as the first city of Delhi of early medieval times. Some points along the LaI-Kot walls and inside it were probed in 1957-8 and 1958-9 by Y.D. Sharma, ASI in order to examine the reasons behind the obvious structural differences between the w. and e. flanks of the LaI-Kot rampart walls. and also to ascertain if the pre-Sultanate occupational levels could be distinguished from the Sultanate ones.

A small trench to the s. of the Qutub-Minar has indicated that this was the residential part of Lal-Kot, at least in Sultanate times, for on either side of a 1.52 m wide street here flanked portions of houses. Drains from these houses join an open lime-plastered gutter running in the middle of the street, which show several road levels.

The pottery from these excavations can be divided into two phases. From the lower levels come plain red wares, sometimes slipped, the main types of which correspond generally with those of the topmost stratum of Ahicchatra, c. 850-1100. From the middle depth of the upper levels come glazed ware and associated black-slipped grey ware. The two phases are separated here by a deposit of ash and earth mixed with debris.

Purana Quila (28°38′; 77°12′), Delhi

The ‘Old Fort’ on the Yamuna in New Delhi, off Delhi-Mathura-Agra road, built by Humayun and with standing monuments built by Sher Shah, situated on a mound on which stood the village Inderpat till the beginning of this century, identified with Indraprastha, the headquarters of the Pandavas of Mahabharata fame. It was explored by Cunningham and later on by others. An inscription of Bhoja of the Pratihara dynasty (c. 836-85) was found here in 1913-4. In a trial excavation of 1954-5 conducted by B.B. Lal of the ASI sherds of the PGW and NBPW and remains of the Sunga Kushan periods were found. Between 1969-70 and 1972-3 the ASI conducted large-scale excavations here revealing remains of eight. Periods, -though neither the PGW nor anything associated with it was found: Period I, Mauryan (4th -3rd century B.C.); Period II, Sunga (2nd -1st century B.C.; Period III, Saka-Kushan (1st -3rd century AD.); Period IV, Gupta (4th -6th century); Period V, post-Gupta (7th -9th century); Period VI, Rajput (10th – 12th century); Period VII, Sultanate (13th -15th century); and Period VIII, Mughal (16th -19th century).

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