A lovely trek inside Sanjay Van and tour of Qila Lal-Kot

Today we are going to talk about the first capital city of delhi i.e Lal kot. A city that once existed as the capital city of Delhi kingdom. Prior to the establishment of Lal kot city, Delhi appears to be a minor settlement in historical records as we rarely finds its mention in the ancient accounts. The more popular city was Mathura that has been mentioned a number of times in the various accounts of various travelers.

However it rose as an important city under the Tomar rulers in around 9th CE who developed it as a capital city of their kingdom by constructing a strong wall around it and building temples,roads, baolis and dams for the use of their public. Since from then its been around 1200 years and in present times most of its original buildings from Rajput era have vanished and only the outer wall of city can be seen which lies unnoticed and unexplored in the forestland of South Delhi called Sanjay Van.

Prithviraj Chauhan fort
Entrance to Sanjay Van

Location of Lal kot.

When i was planning to go there i couldn't find much detail about this place. People in their Vlogs and Blogs have talked about its history the beautiful view and the greenery around but no body has mentioned how to reach there and most importantly where to find the majestic walls of Lal Kot.Well google might help but the area of sanjay van is a forestland and without proper direction a visitor may end up roaming here and there.

If you are planning to go there and want to have some really good time at Lal Kot's walls then I'll advice you to enter inside the sanjay van from its northern entrance precisely from the side where you will find Fore school of management written on google maps. From there just follow the directions of Google map or ask the security guards about the Lal kot walls and after a 1.5 km of walk you'll see the walls .

If you really want to see the view of near by areas including the grand old Qutub Minar and Alai minar try to look for the biggest bastion that is clearly visible and projects outside from the wall . If you will climb that bastion, then from its top you'll find the amazing view of Qutub Minar and nearby areas. In the reference video i have recorded my friend's reaction who was really awestruck by the amazing view when he reached the top of the bastion. Overall a great place to enjoy the sun set or sun rise .

A beautiful view of Qutub Minar and Mehrauli city from Walls of Qila Lal-Kot

Brief History of Lal Kot

The city of Delhi has a history that dates back to the times of Epic Mahabharata where its first mythological existence is mentioned as capital of pandavas Inderprastha. Since from its first settlement that seems to have have existed 2000 years back its capital and over all boundaries have changed several times. However leaving its past of being a minor settlement it appeared first time as an Independent Kingdom under Tomars in around 9th CE.

According to Prithviraj raso of Chanderbardai The Tomar clan of  Rajputs under their famous king Anangpala -I established their capital in delhi at Lal kot and developed it as a secure walled city. This city was later came under the rule of Chauhans and after the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan III in the second Battle of Tarain was captured by Turks.

It remained their principle site of rule until in 1303 when Allauddin Khilji shifted his capital to a more secured area in Siri. If you are an history lover then I'll advice you  to explore the wall further south and keep walking on its walls that might appear to be a difficult trek rocky,uneven,narrow at certain places,full  of thorny bushes and kikar, but after a few meters of trekking along the wall you'll find the entrance of the fort so at least explore till you find one of the 10 entrance gates of the Lal kot city.

Ranveer gate or Ranjeet gate
One of the entrance to the Qila Lal-Kot lies near a huge rubble, only the pillars are visible

Lal Kot and Its Monuments

The city of  Lal Kot finds its mentions in the memoirs of famous central asian invader Timur or Tamerlane who invaded the city in 1398 CE. and has mentioned about the strong and sturdy walls of the city. According to memoirs of Timur there used to be 10 gates. From Adham khan's tomb as a starting point,near which is one of the smaller gates,the walls can be easily traced in fair state of preservation,past the Ranjit gate to the Son Burj where the high walls abruptly ends. The Lal kot walls face sanjay van in the wests from where Invaders used to mount attack on the fort.

A deep trench runs parallel to the walls of Lal-kot that was filled with water to prevent the invaders from reaching near the bastions of walls. This trench is at present visible only at some places and rest of its part is covered with thick bushes and trees. At some place the Bastions of the fort are huge enough to hold 20-30 soldiers above it and some bastions are smaller in size good enough to hold a small section of soldiers.The forest around the seems to be a battleground of past era where the enemy forces would laid their siege of the fort there are a number of shrines scattered across the forest which are said to be that of fallen Muslim soldiers who died while fighting the garrison of the fort.

The Tomars and Chauhans built several temples inside the Lal-kot city which later were all demolished by the mohmeddans and their material used for the construction of mosques and tombs in Mehrauli. A four armed stone image of vishnu dating back to Vikrami Samvat 1204 (i.e.1147 CE.) was found recently to the south east of Qutub Minar and is now exhibited at the national museum.Similar such relics might have been removed from Lal-kot in those times such that today no image or sculpture of Rajput era exists inside the city of Lal Kot only some reminisces can be seen in the forms of pillars that belonged to 27 jain and hindu temples used in the construction of Quwwat ul Islam mosque.

Prithviraj Chauhan fort
Standing at one of the biggest Bastions of Qila Lal-Kot below is the huge trench that separates fort walls from nearby forest.

Prithviraj Chauhan fort
One of the smaller bastions lies in the ruins of  Qila Lal Kot


 What is special about it?

Lal-Kot is the first city among the famous seven cities of delhi. That makes it an important site for a history lover to explore. However there is nothing much left to explore except the walls and sturdy tall bastions that sometime disappears in the thick flora of sanjay van. But still whatever left is still well preserved, also to keep the depleting Aravallis safe it is important to let this area be a forestland and not to let it develop into a massive tourist spot which would be rather counter productive.

Apart from history, in the middle of a jungle it seems to be a good option to enjoy trekking in the winters specially for the young college going students. These days even cyclist are seen cycling near the sanjay van and it seems to be a real fun with lakes greenery and little hills all around. Whatever the case may be the Lal kot walls surrounded by the thick forestland provides ample opportunities for the history as well as nature enthusiasts to explore the hills of aravallis and satiate their wonderlust . A place must visit for Delhites to experience the green forestland inside Delhi with a taste of rare hindu past of Delhi accompanied by the occasional view of exotic birds. 

Prithviraj Chauhan fort
View of Sanjay Van from the top of Lal Kot's Wall

When to visit 

Winters are the best time to visit Lal-Kot . Do plan a heritage walk or go by yourself .Even though its a forest but still Security arrangements are there along with that Delhi police also keeps patrolling this place so it seems to be a safer place than the Ridge forest, the only danger is of snakes and there is a special advisory given regarding that near the entrance gate so be watchful and avoid going there specially during rainy reason. 

Summer is also not a good time to visit Delhi due to the hot weather and hot winds that blow during Summer. Do carry your water bottle if you are planning to trek deep inside the forest. However not to worry about refreshment as on the southern entrance a lot of student food joints are there to serve quick snacks/tea/coffe etc. So it won't be an issue.

Wishing you a Happy History Hunting !  



 Reference Video

Please refer to the following video for further info .



1. The Seven cities of Delhi, Sir Gorden Risley hearn.

2. Romancing Delhi Lal Kot to Shahjehanabad.

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