Delhi is said to consist of seven successive cities, with British-built New Delhi making an eighth. In truth, Delhi has centred historically on three main areas: Lal Kot and extensions to its northeast, where the city was located for most of the Middle Ages; Old Delhi, the city of the Mughals, founded by Shah Jahan in the seventeenth century; and New Delhi, built by the British just in time to be the capital of independent India.

c.1450 BC Pandavas (heroes of the Mahabharata) have their capital at Indraprastha, near Purana Qila
1060 AD Tomars (Rajput clan) found Lal Kot, considered to be the first city of Delhi
1180 Chauhans (rival Rajput clan) oust Tomars and rename the city Qila Lal Pithora
1191 Qila Lal Pithora falls to the Afghan Muslim armies of Muhammad of Ghor
1206 Muhammad of Ghor’s general, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, sets up as an independent ruler, founding the Delhi Sultanate
1211–36 Sultan Iltutmish makes Delhi the capital of lands stretching from Punjab to Bengal
1290 Khaljis, from Central Asia, overthrow Qutb-ud-din’s “Slave Dynasty” and take over as Delhi sultans
1303 Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khalji commissions Siri, the second city of Delhi
1321 Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq ousts Khaljis, founds the Tughluq dynasty, and also Tughluqabad, the third city of Delhi
1326 Sultan Muhammad Tughluq founds Delhi’s fourth city, Jahanpanah, as an extension of Lal Kot, joining it to Siri
1354 As the sultanate gradually disintegrates, Sultan Firoz Shah founds the fifth city of Delhi at Firozabad
1398 Timur the Lame (Tamerlaine) invades and sacks Delhi, founding Sayyid dynasty
1444 Sayyids ousted by Buhul Lodi, whose family take over as Delhi sultans
1526 First Battle of Panipat: Mughal emperor Babur defeats Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, ending the Delhi Sultanate
1540 Sher Shah Suri ousts Babur’s son Humayun and founds the sixth city of Delhi at Purana Qila
1556 Humayun retakes Delhi but dies the following year
1565 Humayun’s son Akbar shifts the Mughal capital from Delhi to Agra
1638 Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan shifts the capital back to Delhi, creating its seventh city at Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi)
1739 Persian emperor Nadir Shah sacks Delhi, slaughtering 15,000 of its inhabitants as Mughal power crumbles
1784 The Marathas subdue Delhi, making the emperor their vassal
1803 In the Battle of Delhi, Britain’s East India Company defeat the Marathas and take over as effective rulers
1857 In the great uprising (First War of Independence), Delhi supports the insurgents, but the British retake the city with bloody reprisals, deposing the Mughals and expelling Muslim Delhiites for two years
1911 The British decide on a new Indian capital at Delhi as opposition to colonial rule mounts in Calcutta
1931 New Delhi officially inaugurated as capital of the Raj
1947 British hand over power in Delhi to India’s first elected government, but Hindu mobs drive many Muslims from the city, while Hindu and Sikh refugees flood in from Punjab and Bengal
1957 Delhi Development Authority (DDA) founded to plan the city’s development
1975–77 Indira Gandhi’s Emergency: forced evictions of Muslim slum-dwellers in Old Delhi
1984 Indira Gandhi’s assassination, followed by sectarian riots targeting Delhi’s Sikh population
1992 Delhi gains status of Capital Territory (CT), with its own government, but not full statehood; BJP take power in CT elections
1998 Congress Party wrests the CT from the BJP, and holds power to this day
2002 First metro line opens
2013 Gang rape and murder of a student paramedic sparks worldwide protests

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