Hauz Khas Village, the uptown market is a delight for Delhi-ites for its cafes & eateries and designer boutiques. And the monument complex here is a popular hangout zone. But few would know of the history of this unusual medieval monument. We walked into HKV and stood at the parapet of the monument looking at the beautiful view of the tank. The Hauz or the tank was initially constructed by Sultan Alauddin Khalji, who is known for his capital city of Siri and landmarks in Indian architecture such as the Alai Darwaza at Qutb Complex. He named the tank Hauz-i-Alai, & was spread over 28 hectares, with a pavilion called Munda Gumbad (literally bald dome) at its center. The tank went dry due to the lack of maintenance after the decline of Khalji dynasty. Sometime later, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq who ruled Delhi in the second half od 14th century, repaired it & called it Hauz Khas.
Firuz Shah was not known for its military campaigns, in fact, he was rather poor at them. He is known for his fondness for constructing and repairing buildings. He built a large school or madrasa at the edge of the tank & this is the focus of our heritage walk today. Within the complex we see rooms, tombs including that of Firuz Shah himself, a mosque & a curious t- shaped building, which are the typical examples of Tughlaq architecture. The masonary is solid, giving an impression of massive strength, and decorated with plaster (minimally only). The classrooms had stairs at regular intervals leading to the tank.
The tomb of Firuz Shah lies at the junction of the two wings of the madrasa. It is entered through a courtyard with a stone railing, which is unusual as it looks like a feature from Buddhist architecture. The tomb is topped with a high dome laced with a battlement pattern or kanguras made out of red sandstone. The ceiling has beautiful calligraphic inscriptions which gives names of Allah and sayings of Prophet Mohammad, the Hadith. It is interesting to see the use of non-Islamic architectural elements such as lotus, jharokas & chajjas in these buildings and their combination with the arch, dome and calligarphy. The lower storey of the madrasa has dark cells which were probably used by students as living quarters. They look more like dungeons for dragons!!!
The next part of the walking tour takes us to Deer Park which has some notable monument scattered among vegetation. A Lodi-style tomb, Bagh i Alam ka Gumbad stands along a wall mosque. It is a massive building made of grey stone and decorated with red & white stone and blue tiles. Across the walking path is a small hut like tomb called the Kali Gumti. If carry on the walking trail with the gumti on your left, just a few steps ahead it another stern looking tomb known as the Tuhfewala Gumbad. This is the end of our heritage walk in Hauz Khas.
Thanks to all for joining us.
(posted by Moby Zachariah & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)