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)