The ruins in Hauz Khas village are among the most fascinating in Delhi. The neighbourhood gets its name from the reservoir, ‘Hauz i Alai’ built by Sultan Alauddin Khalji in early 14th century, for his capital city of Siri. About 50 year after Khalji, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq restored the silted up tank, built a madrasa along its edge and called it the ‘Hauz Khas’. The massive madrasa complex along the lake was among the most important in the Islamic world in the 14th century. A contemporary poet wrote in its praise:
The courtyard was soul-animating, and its expanse was life-giving. Its dusk was musk-scented, and its fragrance possessed the odour of amber…Nightingales, so to say, were singing their melodious songs everywhere. It appeared, as if they had guitars in their talons and flutes in their beaks.
Today, the view is equally grand. The madrasa complex has recently undergone restoration work, especially needed on Firuz Shah Tughluq’s tomb which stands at the junction of the 2 wings of the madrasa. New iron railings and gates have been installed, blocking passage to Firuz Shah’s tomb, from the madrasa. The tomb itself is looking much better. The complex itself is two storeyed. The upper storeys have colonnaded halls and the lower one has cell-like rooms probably meant for students. There are a number of pavilions in the garden area with graves, which are probably of officials/teachers associated with the madrasa.
Tamerlane (Timur) wrote words of high praise for this madrasa complex in his memoirs. He raided Delhi in 1398 and visited the site of Hauz Khas. He mentions that there are buildings on all sides of the tank and each side of the tank is more than a bow-shot long!
This heritage walk also includes monuments in Deer Park. It is rather wonderful to explore the monuments in Deer Park. The green vegetation lends a wonderful contrast to the grey of the monuments. And a brief splash of rain added to the charm of the Park. The largest building here is a Lodi period tomb locally called Bagh i Alam ka Gumbad. The gates to the interior are always closed but if we peer into it we can see some beautiful plaster decoration on the ceiling. On the western side is a pretty mosque with a few graves in the courtyard. A bit of coloured decoration still remains in the niches of the mosque. Nearby is the Kali Gumti, a Tughuq period structure. The last stop on our heritage walk was the rather striking tomb called Tuhfewala Gumbad. It is a rather stern looking Tughluq period tomb with some striking cenotaphs.
(posted by Kanika Singh & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)