There are many a legends about the city of Tughluqabad and the Sultans after whom it is named. As one approaches the fort, our first impressions are of colossal grandeur! The fort’s boundary walls carry on a great distance along Mehrauli Badarpur Road; they are about 4 miles in perimeter & its massive bastions looking formidable. Our heritage walk in Tughluqabad was almost a small trek with a dash of adventure. Many parts of Tughluqabad fort are completely ruined and covered with their own rubble & vegetation and our heritage walk explored the hidden features like the underground granaries, the palace area to the north and the royal escape route built into the fort wall!
The ruins of Tughluqabad are frozen in time. The city was abandoned shortly after it was built, after which there was no substantial settlement here, except a small one in the late Mughal period. Legends say that it was Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya’s curse which brought about the decline of the city. Nizamuddin Auliya had famously prophesied ‘Ya rahe ujar, Ya base gujjar’ or ‘It will either remain deserted or be inhabited by Gujjars’. And true enough, even today a large part of population of Tughluqabad village is Gujjars who are a pastoral community. They come into the fort area to graze their cattle and collect firewood. Another famous saying associated with Tughluqabad is ‘Abhi Dilli door hai!’ or ‘Delhi is yet far’. There was a protracted tiff between Ghiyasuddin Tughluq the founder of Tughluq dynasty & builder of this fort and Nizamuddin Auliya. Ghiyasuddin Tughluq was out on a campaign to Bengal & threatened to teach the sufi saint a lesson when back. On hearing this Nizamuddin remarked, Delhi is yet far! And Ghiyasuddin was killed just before he reached Delhi. It is also believed that Ghiyasuddin’s son and successor Muhammad Tughluq plotted his father’s death. Muhammad Tughluq created a pavilion for a ceremony, outside Delhi, to celebrate Ghiyasuddin’s victorious campaign & the pavilion collapsed killing Ghiyasuddin. This is believed to be the reason why Muhammad was not comfortable staying at Tughluqabad & therefore built the fortress of Adilabad & later the city of Jahanpanah.
Besides the history & architecture, Tughluqabad is also a great place for bird watchers & photographers. Many variety of birds are found in the fort complex and Asola bird sanctuary is nearby. The fort also offers incredible views, panoramas and details to catch the photographer’s eye.
Across the road from the fort is the tomb of Ghiyasuddin Tughluq. The tomb is one of the better maintained monuments in Delhi. In fact the colours look remarkably sharp: the white marble contrasting beautifully with red sandstone. The tomb is built within a small fortress which once stood in water, like an island. In fact, the tomb and the fort were connected by a causeway, which we can see today, has been breached for the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road. Earlier this area on the south side of the fort and around the tomb was an artificially created lake. The water, of course, is long gone & the gate leading to the causeway has become the entrance to the fort.
(posted by Kanika Singh, team member, Delhi Heritage Walks & photos by Nirmal Dayani, a regular at our walks)