They say all tales in history, is a brick on the wall of change. The tales which Delhi, as a city has, inside the folds of its buildings, walls and streets have often changed the course of our history. My story today begins from here. A grandfather’s mistake, love and a tale of revenge changed Delhi forever and my story begins with those who were the game changers….
Tomar Dynasty’s last days: 1166 CE.
It was in the year 1166, King Anangpal Singh Tomar III was tired of ruling his kingdom. His ‘sabha’ managed the litanies of his kingdom well. Prosperity reigned in every corner of Lal Kot and Dhillika. There was but one, small nagging thought that troubled his mind. In the farthest corner of his kingdom, few farm lands have become barren. The farmers have been complaining that the small canal, which sustains them through summer days and helps to keep the crop well-watered, had receded and was drying up. No seeds could be sown in these lands for the last two seasons.
After rounds of talks with his Chief Revenue Officer, the head of those villages, he had consulted the Raaj Jyotish (the royal astrologer). Calculating the position of the stars the Raj Jyotish had predicted one more season of low productivity. Anangpal was seriously contemplating travelling to Puskar. A dip in the holy water might cleanse any evil and bring the productivity back to the fields. Tomars were always there for their subjects’ wealth and prosperity. After all, it was his great Grand-Uncle Shalakshapal Tomar, who had put his great-Grandfather Jaipal Tomar on the thrones of Dillika, as he thought that Jaipal would be a better ruler than his own son. The supreme sacrifice had carried the legacy of love for all the subjects of Tomar kings, at least that is what people around him said. He would go a pilgrimage for the good of his people. The farmers needed some help and blessings. The old canal would be dug deeper and of course with the divine prayers, everything should be alright.
February 1167 CE:
The pilgrimage to Pushkar was successfully completed. It was time for Anangapal to go back to his beloved city Dhillika. The time had been very fruitful for Anangpal. He had spent a lot of time in introspection. Arkapal ( a name his grandfather had called Anangpal by) was ready to select King Tomar IV for his dear kingdom. 84 Khaps and the city of Lal Kot made a big country. Yes, it was time to choose his successor.
Anangpal had been in a bit of doubt between two of his grandsons. His sons were too young to be crowned right now. His two daughters, Kamala Devi (Karpuri Devi) and Roop Sundari had given birth to two strong and courageous elder sons. After all, his daughters were both married to Khastriyas (warrior clan), hence both Jaichand (son of Roop Sundari and Vijaypal, king of Kanauj) and Prithviraj (son of Kamaladevi and Someshwar, a person of eminence in Ajmer court) had proved their mettle in the warfare.
Prithviraj was his favorite, the lad was spirited and intelligent. Prithvi was friendly and was a favorite among all, but there was one niggling doubt which kept on irking Anangpal. Prithvi’s countenance was inscrutable at times. It was as if he did not reveal all. There were few rumors about him too. He was sometimes indulged in too many friends of dubious nature. Maybe he was wrong. Only destiny would tell.
Jaichand on the other hand was all sound and thunder. He would often visit Anangpal, with lots of precious gifts, raise a storm, play with his friends, tease few girls maybe, and with all the furor of a prince, leave suddenly. He was very impulsive and impatient. He had also made his name as a strategist in warfare and politics. Anangpal loved his grandsons but he was aware of their faults. He was rather pleased that Prithvi had taken charge of Dillika in his absence. He would be duly assisted by Anangpal’s men. It was just that Prithvi sometimes puzzled him. But he was only a young lad, who had just seen sixteen summers. The time had come to choose his successor. If only God had been kind enough to bless him with a son, a bit early in his life…..
February 1167CE: Grandfather was coming back. Prithvi’s informants had told him that Anangpal’s entourage was crossing Neemrana. The terrain was rough because of the white rocks, and they will take another 10 hours to reach. It was time to take the preparations……
1060 CE- Lal Kot of Anangapal’s dreams.A flashback on Anangapal Singh Tomar II
He had a kingdom but he could not forget the city of Dillika. Something pulled him back to the rough Aravalli low areas again and again. He wanted to stay there forever. The terrain looked serene under the garb of the rocks and greenery. He decided to build his fort there, his dream ‘Lal Kot’.
The first step was to seal the boundary. The 65 feet high wall with 32 feet thickness along the fort area, would do well to keep the blasted white bandits from west,from raiding the cities over and over again. They were like silly pests who had to be smashed out every now and then. Yes, a high wall and then all inside will be safe.
The fort will have enough land to hold a settlement and maybe an entire city together. It was his dream. He called the head of the Architecture Department to have a discussion. Lal Kot would be built. He would find a way to curve his name in the pages of history.
Little did Anangpal II know that in 1639, another Emperor would have the same dream and gain more prominence in the pages of history. He would build ‘Lal Quila’ or Red Fort and rule over the vast land of Hindusthan and Anangpal and his Lal Kot would be lost in the folds of yellowed pages of history, buried under the debris of the tales from the past.
February 1167 CE:Prithvi, his beloved Grandson had taken good care of his Lal Kot. His informants told him, Prithvi was planning to expand the city. His city had the splendor which would be anyone’s envy in and around Dillika.
(हरियाणए देसे असंखगाम, गामियण जणि अणवरथ काम|
परचक्क विहट्टणु सिरिसंघट्टणु, जो सुरव इणा परिगणियं|
रिउ रुहिरावट्टणु बिउलु पवट्टणु, ढिल्ली नामेण जि भणियं|
Translation: There are countless villages in Haryana country. The villagers there work hard. They don’t accept domination of others, and are experts in making the blood of their enemies’ flow. Indra himself praises this country. The capital of this country is Dhilli.(Excerpt taken from Pasanaha Chariu of Vibudh Shridhar (VS 1189-1230) an Apabhramsha writer, provides the first reference to the legend of the origin of the name Dhilli for Delhi)
Anangpal also knew that Prithvi had been in deep consultation with all the ministers, his Mantris and other courtiers. He was planning to expand the boundaries of Lal Kot. Dilli also would grow in its stature. It was going to be a gala homecoming for Anangpal Tomar III. Prithvi mused to himself…….
The Arrival: 1167 CE.
The gates were closed. There was no one in the vicinity. Anangpal was a bit perplexed. He was used to grand welcomes. The elephants and horses would proceed his cavalcade and all the people residing in the city, would gather on both sides of the main street to welcome him to the Fort, his Lal Kot. He looked at his family, they too seemed perplexed. Anangpal asked his bodyguards to find out if anyone would open the gates, maybe the informer had announced the dates wrong to Prithvi.
The gates did not open for hours. With each second Anangpal realised what had happened. His beloved Prithvi had not waited for his verdict and had taken over the Kingdom, in his absence. Strange, how little he knew him. Anangpal had thought, the estate of Ajmera would be enough for Prithvi.But the gate and the walls were completely deserted. His bodyguards had been running to and fro to get the gates opened. Anangpal Tomar did not have enough army or men to attack his Lal Kot. As the sun set, nor did he want to. Although it was important to carry on Tomar’s name, the reign of Dillika would rest in the capable hands of Prithviraj Chauhan. The history was about to change its course.
He only hoped Jaichand would not take any offence at this turn of the events. Cousins might become sworn enemy. Anangpal smiled to himself. He was tired, very tired. He would not counter Prithvi and would provide him all the support that he required. His grandson had doubted his love. He would not encourage Prithvi’s doubts. He loved his Prithvi and a time will come to mend the bridges. For now, he would like to find new dreams. He had heard about a land of wonders and Dasyus Clan in the area named Chambal. Time has come to explore the land of Dasyus….
This incident had helped to change the course of our country’s history. Jaichand and Prithviraj became sworn enemies. Later Prithviraj had eloped with Sanyukta,who was Jaichand’s daughter,paying scant respect to the fact that she was his cousin’s daughter.Such was the rivalry. Jaichand was so enraged that he had invited Mohammad Ghur or Ghori to attack Prithviraj’s territory. This and subsequent defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan had seen the beginning of Islamic rule in India, then known as ‘Hindoosthan’.
A little tit-bit- Maharaja Anangpal II uprooted the Vishnu Stambh installed by Raja Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) in Udaygiri caves (MP). This Stambha had a Garuda (or Chakra) on top and was made of rust-resistant composition of the metals with a high content of Phosphorus. Anangpal got this IRON PILLAR to Delhi and installed outside his Fort. It now stands proudly in the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque of Qutb Complex in Mehrauli. He even got his name inscribed on it with date.
Author’s note: On a recent walk in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, my interest was raised by the massive wall of a fort, obviously much older than the Islamic structures we could see around us. Trailing into the history, gave me the above mentioned facts. The tale could have been like the one I and many historians or litterateurs of 10th-11th century have written.
Disclaimer:The story above is a mix of historical facts and a bit of artistic imagination of the writer :). I have tried to keep the historical facts related to time and dates intact, but as the evidences of these incidences are in the literature or in the lines of the poets who wrote about the kings and their rules, there would often be a contradictory claim. Hence this disclaimer.