Hauz Khas is one of the historic villages in Delhi region. And it has one of the most interesting monument complexes existing in India: the madrasa built by Firuz Shah Tughluq. ‘Hauz’ is a tank & ‘Khas’ is special or important. The name ‘Hauz Khas’ comes from the fact there existed a tank built by a king called Alauddin Khalji. The tank was originally named ‘Hauz i Alai’ after Alauddin Khalji, but later began to be called Hauz Khas. The tank still exists but in a much altered form. It now has a popular district park around it.
We started the heritage walk from the Kunzum travel café in Hauz Khas village. The monuments are located a few meters away. The madrasa is a large L-shaped building built along the tank. Once the water from the tank would have lapped at its walls; now the tank is much smaller. In fact, the Persian invader Timur, when he camped here before fighting the Delhi sultan, describes each side of the tank being more than a bow-shot long! The double storeyed madrasa is mostly in ruins now but one can imagine that it must have been a grand place. Contemporary accounts are full of praise for this complex. Even though in a ruinous state, one can still distinguish assembly halls and cell-like rooms which were probably meant for students, and a mosque. At the centre of the madrasa lies the tomb of its builder, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq. The tomb in unique in having a stone railing outside its northern entrance, almost like those found in Buddhist monuments. It is also marked by the distinctive sloping walls of Tughluq architecture. The lawns around the madrasa have a few pavilions marked with graves in the centre. These are probably tombs of officials or teachers associated with the madrasa, but we do not have any names of who might have been buried here. The next section of this heritage walk covers monuments in Deer Park. The first most prominent monument is aLodi-period tomb locally known as ‘Bagh I Alam ka Gumbad’ (literally, the dome of the garden of the world). It has an adjacent wall mosque which has remains of some very pretty plaster decoration on the mihrab wall. Close to it is a small Tughluq period tomb known by its local name, Kali Gumti or the ‘black hut’. It is a rather small, plain looking tomb again with a wall mosque. The last stop on the walk was Tuhfewala Gumbad or the ‘dome which is built as a gift’. This tomb has some striking cenotaphs but we have no information on who might this tomb be for. The tomb is unusual in being open on all four sides. The western wall in this case is not closed up.
(posted by Rajesh Ranjan & Kanika Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)