On a cold and foggy morning I decided to join a Heritage walk conducted by Delhi Heritage Walks, to Tughlaqabad Fort.
Tughlaqabad is among the 7 cities of Delhi, namely, Mehrawali (Mehrauli), Siri, Jahanpanah, Firozabad, the city around Purana Qila and Shahjahanabad and its ruins are spread over 6 square kms.
It is said that one day while taking a walk in the place, the fort ruins stand now, Ghazi Malik, a feudatory of the ruling Khalijis, suggested to his king, to build a fort. The King jokingly told Ghazi Malik to build it himself when he becomes the king. Little did he know that one day it will happen.
In 1321 AD, Ghazi Malik assumed the title of Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq, started the Tughlaq dynasty after driving away the Khaljis and started building an impregnable city. The Tughlaqabad Fort was completed in a record time of 4 years. The ruins tell us that the fort was a massive strong structure with thick and sky touching walls. According to a legend, in the construction of the fort, skulls of the killed Mongol marauders were used.
Around the time the fort was being built, Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya was also building a Baoli in Nizamuddin area. He was finding it difficult to get labourers as the King had ordered all the workmen and labourers to work day and night to complete the task.
This lead a to a major dispute between the Sufi mystic and the king and the Sufi saint cursed the king, “Ya rahey ujjar, ya basey gujjar” .
It is said that Ghias-ud-din when he came to know that labourers were working on the Baoli in the night, stopped the supply of oil to them for their lamps. When the masons approached the Sufi saint he poured water from the Baoli into the lamps & lit them and asks the labourers to continue. At that time the King was away from Tughlaqabad. To pacify the labourers, the Sufi saint said “Hunuz Dilli dur ast (Delhi is still far away).Time once again showed how the Saint was right.
It is believed that Tughlaq’s son conspired with the workers building a gate in honour of the returning King and the Shamiana (tent) fell on the Emperor, while he was passing under the gate crushing him to death in 1324. The Fort was completed after Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq’s death. Later the city was captured by the Gujjars and till date they have remained there.
The city of Tughluqabad is divided into 3 parts, a wider city area with houses built along a rectangular grid between its gates, the citadel with a tower at its highest point known as Bijai-Mandal and the adjacent palace area containing the royal residences. There is a long secret underground passage below the tower.
After Tughlaq’s death his mausoleum was constructed. It is a single-domed square tomb with sloping walls crowned by parapets. It is made with red sandstone and inlaid marble panels. There are 3 graves inside, the central one belongs to Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq the other two are believed to be those of his wife and his son and successor Muhammad bin Tughluq. Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq’s grave has been at this site prior to the construction of the mausoleum as desired by him. It was connected by a causeway to the southern outpost of the fort. Sadly in 1960 while laying the Mehrauli Badarpur road this was raised to the ground.
Today most of the city is inaccessible due to dense thorny vegetation. The massive Tughlaqabad Fort, though in an advanced state of ruins, is not only symbolic of the might of the Tughlaq dynasty, but it is a piece of architectural marvel. Sadly the demise of Tughlaqabad was not brought about by any foreign invasion, but due to the curse of a Sufi.