City Monument - Firuz Shah Kotla Ruins, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg

City Monument – Firuz Shah Kotla Ruins, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg


The fifth city.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Built as the citadel of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, along the banks of the Yamuna, this is now a ruin. Firuzabad, the fifth city of Delhi, once extended from Hauz Khas to Pir-Ghaib (near Bara Hindu Rao hospital) but most buildings were vandalized during the construction of the new city of Shahjahanabad.

This is one of the few Delhi ruins that is not patronized by tourists or romantic couples. The once-scenic gateways lead to nowhere and the stairs go up to gloomy circular chambers. Squirrels race up the stone ramparts and colonies of pigeons and parakeets fly out of reach of the numerous cats. On Thursday nights people who believe they are possessed by djinns come to the chambers beneath the mosque to be exorcised by Sufis.

The Jami Masjid, raised on a platform, is entered through a domed gateway. It has hardly any ornamentation left. The walls on its east and north have disappeared. Standing amid its ruinous state, it is difficult to imagine that the 14th-century invader Timur was so impressed by it that he created a replica in his hometown, Samarkand.

Facing the masjid is the 80m hight Ashokan pillar, one of a series of columns erected by the Mauryan king Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. It stands on a three-storeyed pyramid made of rubble, with small chambers on each level.

Transplanted from its original site in Punjab, the astonishingly smooth pillar, with its clear inscription, is one thing here that does not look ruined.

Where Near ITO Crossing, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg Nearest Metro Station Pragiti Maidan Time Sunrise to sunset

Can’t drive in


Home alone


It’s history


As the eagle flies


Ashokan pillar




The mosque



Lonely at the top


Modern times


Decline & fall of the fifth city of Delhi

Decline & Fall of Delhi

Once upon a time…