The Tomb of Razia Sultan lies near the Turkman Gate in Old Delhi within the Bulbul-i-Khan locality which is located east of Kalan Masjid. This area is at close proximity to Sitaram Bazaar and can be approached by local taxis and from Chawri Bazaar Metro Station.
Razia Sultan was known as the first Muslim woman ruler of Delhi born in 1205. Her real name was Jalalat-ud-din Raziya and she was born to Sultan Shams-ud-din Iltutmish who was a descendant of the Turkish Seljuk’s Slave Clan and the fourth Mamluk Sultan of Delhi. She was known to assist her father during his reign and learnt about the state affairs contrary to what a girl child would have been allowed to at that period. She was disinterested in learning the customary behaviours of a Muslim woman and preferred dressing in a man’s robe and turban rather than a woman’s dress. The Sultan announced that Razia would ascend the Throne of the Delhi Sultanate upon his demise but this was greatly resented by the other Muslim Nobility and hence after the Sultan’s demise on 29th April 1236, Raziya’s brother, Ruk-ud-din Feroze Shah was voted as the new Ruler of Delhi.
Sultan Rukn-ud-din ruled for a short span of six months along with his mother Shah Turkaan (Sultan Iltutmish’ widow). He was practically drowned in debauchery and personal pleasures. This angered the Courtiers and on 9th November 1236, Ruk-ud-din and his mother were assassinated. Since, Razia was the only heir to the Throne, with reluctance, the Turkish Nobility agreed to Razia ascending the Delhi Sultanate Throne and hence a new leader was born.
Razia Sultan grew to be one of the most powerful rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and learnt to be a shrewd politician. She always kept a close watch on her Nobles and Courtiers and was an expert in politically manipulating the conflicts of rebels into acting against each other. As per legendary tales, Razia became a close confidante of Jamal-ud-din Yaqut who was a descendant of the Abyssinian Siddi (Habshi) Slave Clan. This was not a known fact as Yaqut was always seen tending to the Stables whereas Razia was known to ride elephants only. However, for whatever the reasons may have been, the Turkish Nobility were carried away by this rumour and opposed the favouritism of Razia towards Yaqut as he was not a Turkish descent. Their resentment became stronger, especially after she appointed Yaqut as the Superintendent of the Stables.
Different versions surround the actual death of Razia Sultan. One version states that Razia Sultan’s childhood friend, Malik Altunia who was also the Governor of Bhatinda, joined hands with the Turkish Provincial Governors who has opposed to Razia ascending the Delhi Throne and rebelled against Razia Sultan. This broke into a battle between Altunia and Razia Sultan and as a result, Yaqut was killed and Razia was imprisoned after she lost the battle. Altunia proposed that he would pardon her death sentence if she married him and Razia Sultan agreed.
Another version states that Razia Sultan lost the battle against her brother, Muiz-ud-din Bahram Shah who later had captured the Throne of the Delhi Sultanate. Malik Altunia and Razia were lovers and they both prepared a battle to reclaim the Throne of Delhi. They lost the battle on 13th October 1240 and escaped to Delhi. In the interim, Razia’s forces also abandoned them due to which both were captured by their enemy and killed on 14th October 1240. In fact, Sultan Muiz-ud-din Bahram Shah was later asked to descend the Delhi Throne due to sheer incompetence.
Another legend has that Razia Sultan lost the battle against the Hindu Jats and escaped in the guise of a man. She found shelter but was later seized by the Jats and killed near Kaithal in Haryana. Another claim is that she was killed in a jungle when she was riding on her elephant on her way back from the Battle with the Jats in 1239 while another version claims that she was killed by an arrow during the battle as she cried over her husband’s death. Since, there are no accounts of these stories; her death remains a mystery even today. Razia Sultan will always be known as a brave Muslim Princess who was an excellent administrator and impressively lead her country and Army and is noted as one of the legendary woman sovereigns in the history books of the Islamic Rule.
There are numerous controversies surrounding the original grave of Razia Sultan though the obvious states that her grave lies in Bulbul-i-Khan near Turkman Gate in Old Delhi as she was killed in Delhi. These controversies emerged due to the fact that Altunia and Yaqut’s graves are missing and there are no archaeological evidences or inscriptions on this stone grave to reveal that it is the Tomb of Razia Sultan.
The first claim is that the Tomb of Razia Sultan sits on a raised platform in a 35 square feet courtyard at Bulbul-i-Khan in the ancient city of Shahjahanabad now known as ‘Old Delhi’ near the entrance of the Turkman Gate. The Tomb is masked with dust and filth and is seen in a dilapidated state due to the ravages of time. Another Tomb is seen beside which is said to have belonged to her sister, Shazia and two smaller Tombs are seen on the South-west corner of the courtyard which may have belonged to Razia Sultan’s children. Some state that Razia’s brother and successor to the Delhi Throne may have built these graves after her demise. Today the Tomb site has been converted onto a Mosque by the Muslim residents of this area but during the 13th Century, this area was a jungle and there is no evidence as to how Razia Sultan’s body ended here. Tourists and visitors can enjoy a view of these Tombs on all days with free entry.
The second claim is that the Tomb of Razia Sultan sits in Haryana at Siwan near Kaithal which lies north-west of the city. A Jail is seen established in this site today, however, it is a possibility that Razia Sultan may have been buried here first and later her Tomb was shifted to the present location in Old Delhi, however, these are just speculations and may not be the fact due to lack of evidence.
The third claim is that the Tomb of Razia Sultan lies at Tonk in Rajasthan. This version states that the Princess was buried beside her Slave and Confidante, Yaqut, at Tonk. Sayed Sadique Ali who is an Urdu lecturer at the Government Post-Graduate College in Rajasthan claims that this is the real Tomb site of Razia Sultan and Yaqut after he had re-examined the historical facts and deciphered the irregular pattern of the Arabic inscriptions seen on the grave stones. The smaller Tomb reads ‘Shahide Muhabbat Quvvatul Mulk Jamal-ud-din Yaqut’, whereas, the larger Tomb situated on a higher platform reads ‘Sultanul Hind Razia’.