Tughlaqabad, A cursed city!

Ya rahe Ujjar …. Ya base Gujjar …

The words uttered by Saint Nizamuddin Auliya perhaps resonate in the silence of these grand ruins … Not very far from the hustle bustle of Qutb Minar – Tughlaqabad fort houses the ruins of  a 14th century city built by Giyathudin Tughlaq in 1321.

Fort Tughlaqabad – Third city of Delhi

Gazi Malik Tughlaq was Alauddin Khilji’s trusted general who had modest beginnings as a slave but rose to challenges offered to him by the destiny. He was appointed the principle governor of Depalpur and played an important role in defeating invading Mongols from the Chagtai Khanate kingdom.

According to a legend he told Sultan Alauddin Khilji to build a fort on a picturesque hill south of Delhi… Khilji jokingly said build it when you become a Sultan. Khilji’s successors could not keep the throne and the slave now became the Sultan… Tughlaq dynasty was founded in 1320… perhaps within a year he began the construction of this majestic fort.

Shrubs inside fort walls

Saint Nizamuddin Auliya was constructing a baoli to tackle water shortage in the region but that slowed down the construction of the Fort Tughlaqabad…The sultan ordered labour to abandon the Baoli project and prioritize on the construction of the third city of Delhi. According to legends it is believed that the Auliya, furious with this decision cursed this new city. Interestingly in 1327, Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq abandoned this city to build Adilabad and Jahanpanah city due to acute water shortage around Tughlaqabad. There is a rock cut baoli inside the fort and underground passages that I could not visit.

The eerie calm

According to archaeologist Alexander Cunningham, the fort is about the same size of Shahjahanabad and half hexagon in shape. Protected by rubble walls of massive rocks quarried locally (an estimate basis their weight) with a distinct slope similar to Egyptian style the fort stands tall even today on the Mehrauli Badarpur road.


Ibn Batuta in his account talks about seeing the sultan in a large hall of audience with a thousand pillars. One can see only remnants of that grandeur hidden by bushes, ignored by tourists… Only perhaps gujjars come here to graze their cattle (exactly what Nizamuddin Auliya’s prophecy told)

Hunuz Dilli Dur Ast

The Sultan would not return alive to this city in Dilli … The Auliya uttered… Well! after conquering territories in Bengal and Bihar … Ghiyasuddin was received by his son Muhammad in a shamiana just outside Delhi in 1325, but was killed in the accident when this wooden shamiana collapsed. According to Ibn-Batuta it was a conspiracy hatched by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. After the death of the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty…the decline of his dream city began triggered by water shortage.

Once a thriving city?

Ghiyathuddin Tughlaq built his tomb just across the fort inside a large fortification, surrounded by an artificial lake (there is no water around today) This tomb is visible from the Bijay Mandal citadel on Tughlaqabad fort.

Ghiyathuddin’s tomb

The majestic tomb is built in red sandstone capped by a marble dome. Decorative marble design adds definition lines to the tomb facade. The tomb houses two more graves (perhaps of his wife and son) Inside this fortification there is one more tomb, believed to be of Zafar Khan, an important general under the Khilji dynasty.



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