City Monument – Shahi Kadam Quila, Nabi Karim
[Text and photos by Maynak Austen Soofi]
Some nimble guesswork may be required to figure out what one is confronted with.
In truth these are the ruins of a 14th century citadel right in the heart of central Delhi.
Said to be built by Emperor Feroze Shah Tughlaq to house a memorial for his son, the Shahi Kadam Quila has managed to fuse effortlessly with contemporary culture/architecture. Cables run hither and thither, while the monument is surrounded on all sides by phone shops and samosa shacks and what have you.
Precious few tourists or heritage lovers venture into the crowded streets to feast on the remains of this fort at Nabi Karim. Not much is left for the curious, to be certain, although the gateways and ramparts that do survive haven’t lost their elegance. All day long, locals scurry under these gateways that are plastered with flyers for English language classes and much else.
One is tempted to mourn the loss of what might have been a magnificent fort that was meant to last for all time. Even so. The monument still reaches out to the locality as a fascinating background detail—you might say. Its humbled state perhaps suggests a city that has witnessed too many fluctuations in fortune.
Whatever… Emperor Feroze Shah Tughlaq (1309-1388) built many other public buildings in Delhi, as well, while materially improving the infrastructure of his sprawling empire. And this dilapidated ruin testifies to the decaying of that legacy.