City Monument – Hauz Khas Ruins, South Delhi
Verses in stone.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The arched entrance of the modestly built gateway opens into a grassy expanse. Unknown tombs and domed chhatris lie on the garden. On the right are more ruins: the broken walls, the pillared halls and the dark corridors. They face a lake – the focal point of Hauz Khas’s existence.
In early 14th century, a ruler called Allauddin Khilji excavated a water reservoir here for the people of nearby Siri, the second city of Delhi. Then Khilji died, time passed, his dynasty faded and the reservoir was filled up with silt. It was re-excavated by another Delhi ruler, Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who added a madarsa (Islamic school) and a mosque. One of the most elegant sites in Delhi, the madarsa’s principal hall has delicately carved balconies and kiosks projecting out to the lake. The contemporary chronicler Barni compared it to “the palaces of ancient Babylon”. Delhi poet Mutahhar of Kara found it “a soul-animating courtyard”.
It is fitting that Tughlaq’s tomb (circa 1388), a domed structure measuring 13.56 sq.m, soars above the rest of the ruins. Inside, there are three more graves beside Tughlaq’s.
However, if history feels dense and oppressive, then forget the kings and hang out in the balconies (careful, they don’t have a barricade) and listen to the fluttering of pigeons; or look out into the lake and hear the ducks squeak. Local visitors – college students and lovers – playfully whisper or whistle to hear the echo that falls off the side-walls in Tughlaq’s tomb, which have openings into the rest of the inter-connected complex. Since parts of the ruins have been completely destroyed, the stone stairs lead up and down to nothing; sometimes ending up in the thin air. That’s fun.
[For another perspective on Hauz Khas by The Delhi Walla, click here]
Where Hauz Khas Village, near Green Park market Time Sunrise to sunset Entry Free
Stones are speaking
Mr Tughlaq is buried here
The artsy arch
The lake view
Here and there
Quiet and beautiful
No 9/11 this