It's hard to think of Delhi as anything but the capital of India but for a surprisingly long time Delhi was not the hot seat of power. Having said that, however, it's also true that Delhi was never exactly a sidekick on the scene of Indian history. All through its long innings, the present capital of India has been an important player. Reasons for this might be found in its geographical location. Delhi has always been a convenient link between Central Asia, the northwest frontiers and the rest of the country. An inscription dating from the time of Asoka, the famous Mauryan king, tells us that Delhi was on the great northern highway of the Mauryas and linked their capital Patliputta (near modern Patna, Bihar) with Taxila (Takshashila), now in Pakistan. This was apparently the route that Buddhist monks took on their way to Taxila, the intellectual hotbed in those days, and Central Asia.