Walking through the ruins of a medieval madrasa & a royal tank, 22 Sept 2012

September 28, 2012 in Deer Park,Delhi Heritage Walks,DHW,Hauz Khas Heritage Walks,Heritage Walks | Comments (2)

If a Delhi-ite wants to experience a place which tells you stories about Delhi’s Islamic rule and present life, one must visit, Hauz Khas complex. Amidst of contradictions, once forming the outskirts of the city of Siri, known for its reservoir and monuments of 14th century is now a fashion street & has come a long way. One of the most fascinating things about this place is we walk down through a busy road with shops and boutiques, this chaos and noise leads to a quite and different place, the Hauz Khas monument complex. The participants in our heritage walk are awestruck at the view when we stand on the parapet which over looks the tank; the first reaction I get to hear is “wow, what a view!” The credit of building this tank goes to Alauddin Khalji. Built in the 13th century, was named Hauz -i- Alai and was originally 28 hectares. Now the size and shape has changed drastically but it welcomes many birds every year. Undoubtedly, the tank is the highlight of the complex, but the surrounding monuments make it a magnificent sight. This complex was built by Firuz Shah Tughluq in the 14th century. He made plans to revive and re -landscape the complex by repairing the silted tank and its water channels and by adding more structures such as a double storied madarsa, a mosque, an assembly hall, tombs of the teachers of his college & last but not least, his own tomb. As we look back in time, he was perhaps the most prolific builder in medieval north India. We know of Shahjahan, but the sheer number of public works initiated by Firuz Tughluq is unparalleled. The Hauz Khas madrasa is constructed in l- shaped & his tomb stands at the junction of two wings. The madrasa attracted best teachers from different Islamic lands to teach subjects such as Islamic law, astronomy, calligraphy, mathematics to the students. The classrooms on the upper storey and students residential units in the lower storey overlook the tank. The ruins of the madrasa indicate that decoration was minimal. Firuz Shah Tughluq’s tomb has some plaster decoration. It is quite strange why he choose this place not his capital Firuzabad now known as Firuz Shah Kotla. He built a mosque for praying purposes of the visitors, teachers and students. The building next to the mosque is a t- shaped structure believed to be used for public meeting. There are some special pavilions in the garden dedicated to the teachers or administrators as well. We walked back through Hauz Khas village to reach Bagh –i- Alam ka Gumbad in Deer Park. As per a Persian inscription, it is Lodi tomb built on the remains of Shaikh Shahbuddin Taj Syed by Abu Syed during the reign of Sikander Lodi in 1501. On the western side, there is a wall mosque with several graves. Moving to the left, there are two neglected and lesser known monuments Tufhewala Gumbad and Kali Gumti both belongs to Tughluq dynasty. The heritage walk at Hauz Khas stands out, for we get to see royal tank, an Islamic college, mosque and tombs in an unusual setting.

(posted by Moby Zachariah & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)

Hauz Khas Heritage Walk

2 Responses to “Walking through the ruins of a medieval madrasa & a royal tank, 22 Sept 2012”

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  1. Comment by Naveen BhartiyaOctober 15, 2012 at 6:13 am  

    Mr. Anil Malik’s feedback is misleading & that is why it is necessary to respond to him. 

    Yes, the timing of the walk was odd, but it was explained by the team. The food shops don’t open in the morning & the haveli we were to visit closes by 5 pm & they were making an exception to open for us till 6 pm. In fact, Mr. Malik has specifically asked this over email before registering for the walk & this had been explained to him in detail. We see no reason why he chose to attend the walk knowing of the reasons for odd timing & then complain about it. 

    Then his argument that food is inappropriate is absurd. The walk is called ‘street food of Delhi’ so it is obvious that no 5 star hotels are being covered.  Moreover, no foreigner ventures out on food walk unless they are comfortable with eating in India. In fact, none of the foreigners complained. In fact, foreigners are regulars at these walks. This particular walk on 6th Oct, had a Swede national, who was repeating this route for the second time! Those who are not comfortable eating out, don’t opt for this option. 

    Also, a walk at old Delhi cannot include Kaleva at Gole Market (Connaught Place), for obvious reasons. Does Mr. Malik want to walk from Jama Masjid to CP? Giving such analogies is as good as saying that dosas are better in Tamil Nadu so we shouldn’t eat them in Delhi! We know of very good nihari at Bara Hindu Rao, would Mr. Malik be willing to walk from Jama Masjid to Hindu Rao to sample it, a distance of mere 7 kms?!! Then Mr. Malik argues that Chandni Chowk would have been better. We don’t see any reason why. If he did not find anything spectacular in this route, what incredible items is he expecting in Chandni Chowk? We think this route has some unique food items: the fruit sandwiches were fresh & tasty. There isn’t any other place in the entire city of Delhi where they are prepared. Then the kulle ki chaat not only looked aesthetically appealing but had a good tangy taste. The mosque is a very good example of hidden gems in the old city. There are many other groups who take food walks along this route but Delhi Heritage Walks is the only one which covered the mosque & the haveli. It is obvious that we are making an extra effort to show lesser known areas in the city. The chaat near metro was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The kulfi wala has preparations in all kinds of flavours unheard of: phalsa/ black currant, jamun, custard apple/sharifa, paan, imli/tamarind, rose, litchi, stuffed mango, to name a few. Unlike what Mr. Malik says there is no other place in Delhi with such variety.  And he gives examples of non-veg food near Jama Masjid, what guarantee does he have of hygiene there? DHW’s hard work shows in the fact that our walks are well managed & enjoyable experiences.  A large chunk of our visitors repeat all walks in our calendar.  In fact, Mr. Malik has himself attended 3 of our walks in the last few weeks & each time he writes a negative feedback, publicly. If he does not enjoy them, then he has no reason for rejoining us every weekend. 

    All the above shows that Mr. Malik is up to deliberate mischief, which is unworthy of anyone genuinely interested in exploring the city of Delhi.

    Naveen Bhartiya

  2. Comment by MOBY SARA ZACHARIAH — October 15, 2012 at 7:28 am  

    I agree with Naveen, none of the people complained about the hygiene. they all been in India for a while now and must have grown tuff and adjust very well here. the reason we didn’t offer non veg because preparation takes a long time and we had time constraints. i don’t agree with most of things posted by Mr. Malik. The Kulifs were the best part of the walk, these are things which we dont get to eat regularly. The food walk is different and difficult to conduct as compared to regular walks. it has its own restrictions, one needs to adjust and focus on enjoying the food. 

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