In the photo: The compound inside the fortified citadel of the 15th century Purana Quila, traditionally thought to be site of Indraprasta, home of the mighty Pandavas

Mahabharata’s Indraprasta: A likely truth.

If you walk into what is presently known as the Purana Quila in New Delhi, India and meander to the left along the massive walls, chances are you will not fail to spot an old stone tablet inscribed with the words: The Yamuna used to flow past this area, the site of the Pandavas, city of Indraprasta. This deduction (though not universally agreed upon as conclusive evidence) is derived from the fact that there existed within the fortified citadel an ancient village known as Indraprat among the ruins of several other settlements dating back to the second century and possibly farther back into the past.

Poetic exaggerations aside the Mahabharata is a rich source of historical information on India’s Vedic age that is speculated to have sprouted during or after the Harappan decline. First complied by the poet and sage Ved Vyasa who is said to have lived in the 3rd millennium, the epic abounds with numerous references of historically accurate tribes that existed during the time frame, including the Kuru clan that inspired the Kaurava dynasty and held dominion over parts of present day Haryana and Delhi.

The semi nomadic tribes of Vyasa’s time, however, were not master city builders like the preceding Harappan civilization. In all likelihood, Indraprasta or its inspiration might just have been a Harappan settlement that over time evolved into the fabled city of resplendent beauty and architecture at the hand of poets who transformed and built upon the original composition.


  1. I think the so-called Mahabharata inscription is of a much later date and someone put it there a few hundred years ago to lay claim over this place. This could be easily tested using carbon dating on the inscription, the language and the dialect of the writing. Is the writing in Brahmi, which was the earliest script used in India, excluding the undeciphered Harappan script? Or is it in modern day Sanskrit, which could prove a much later origin. I think, originally, this fortress was possibly of a local Jat king that got taken over by Rajput kings and then by the Turkic dynasty kings. It urgently needs restoration from the ASI.


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