Heritage walk at Hauz Khas complex also aims at telling people that there’s more to Hauz Khas than the village. The place known as hippest shopping centre in Delhi, the group walked along the lane to a monumental complex amongst all that greenery along the banks of the Hauz, an artificial tank constructed by Alauddin Khalji in the 13th century named as Hauz-e- Alai. We all climbed on a slightly raised, platform which overlooks a stunning view. I am sure people must have thanked Alauddin for constructing a tank of 28 hectares which catered to the water needs of the villagers around the place. Sadly, after Alauddin’s reign ended, the hauz was abandoned and water channels got silted. The Tughlaqs took over in the 14th Century; & Firuz Shah Tughluq decided to make use of the water body once again. The hauz was revived and de-silted. His contribution towards the complex went beyond repairing the water tank. Firuz Shah Tughluq was also known for setting up many educational institutions and laying out gardens. He planned a layout of the L-shaped structures starting with a mosque, the Madrasa-e- Firuz Shahi, a college for Islamic theology, calligraphy, mathematics, religious law etc by best teachers and scholars invited by Firuz from all around the Islamic countries. The layout of the madrasa is interesting; it has a pillared classroom followed by a domed classroom in the upper storey. There are a series of ruined student’s accommodations in the lower storey. Almost all the Tughlaq structures were constructed with grey quartzite, a material which was locally available in Delhi and was very hard to carve which left the workers with very less options to design the structure. The structure well ventilated and opened to the hauz on the western side. It is interesting to note the differences between a medieval classroom and a modern classroom. Then there is a t-shaped three domed structure probably used an assembly hall.
Unlike the previous structures, there is also the tomb of Firuz Shah Tughluq built in 1388 with a stone railing forming a courtyard outside and more detailed and colourful interiors. The tomb houses four other graves. The ceiling has Quranic verses and names of Allah inscribed on them. The inscription on entrance tells us about repair work carried out by Sikander Lodi in 16th century. Our group walked through both the storeys before moving into the l- shaped garden to see the three pavilions dedicated to the teachers of madarsa. These might have served as classrooms as well.
We then move out and walked to the busy lane to enter the deer park. There our stop was at Bagh- i- alam ka gumbad, a Lodi period tomb. A complex dominated by Tughlaq structures, this is only existing Lodi structure. One can still see the traces of blue tiles. According to a Persian inscription, this tomb was constructed by Sheikh Shahabuddin Taj Khan during Sikander Lodi’s reign. This tomb is attached a wall mosque with several graves in the open courtyard. Our second last spot was Tofhewala Gumbad; unfortunately we have very less written data on this Tughlaq structure. It has a typical style with four high cenotaphs and inwardly slanting walls. We ended our walk with a glimpse of other neglected monument, Kali Gumti with a wall mosque, which looks more like a Tughlaq building.
Here’s a comment made by one of the participants: that this complex is not a very typical Delhi places as it stands silent surrounded by dense forest away from the chaos and madness of the city. I nodded and agreed to what the gentleman said and added that it is a different world all together, probably a medieval world. We have to visit the place to feel the difference!
(posted by Moby Zachariah & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)
Hauz Khas Heritage Walk