Balban’s Tomb

The Tomb of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, who was once the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, is located close to the entrance gate of the Archaeological Survey Park which lies west of Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road. Tourists can hire taxis, auto rickshaws or board the Metro up till Central Secretariat from where they can hire a rickshaw to arrive at the place.

The Tomb of Balban is a 13th Century AD Mausoleum where the last Sultan of the Slave Dynasty was buried in 1287 AD and hence is the Sultan’s final resting place. Being an ancient monument, the Tomb is seen in a dilapidated state and in complete neglect.

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was the Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate during the reign of the Mamluk Dynasty known to many as the ‘Slave Dynasty’ between 1266 AD and 1287 AD. He was born in the year 1206 AD; however, the date is unknown to a Turkish Noble who belonged to the Ilbari Tribal Clan. Balban was unfortunately captured by the Mughals as a child and sold to Ghazni Khwaja Jamal-ud-din Basri, a merchant from Baghdad. In 1232 AD, he was then bought as a Slave by Iltutmish who later released Balban from the bondage of Slavery upon royal orders of his Emperor, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who was then, the reigning Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate.

Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak took great care of Balban in a manner befitting a royal prince and educated the boy. Balban further introduced a Persian Culture called ‘Zaminbos’ wherein people had to lie flat on the ground face down in front of the Emperor. He was then appointed as the Personal Attendant and a close confidante of the Sultan and later the leader of ‘Chalissa’, which is a group comprising of forty Turkish Nobles of the Country.

Balban conquered many neighbouring regions after the defeat and demise of Razia Sultan. When Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud ascended the Throne of the Delhi Sultanate, Balban was appointed as the Prime Minister of the Empire between 1246 AD and 1266 AD and married the Sultan’s daughter. Balban then ascended the Throne on 1266 AD at the age of 60 after the demise of Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud since the Sultan did not have any son and was conferred the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban. He also introduced Silver Coins during his reign as the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was a fierce and strict administrator and leader known to have ruled with an iron fist. He demolished the system of ‘Chihalgani’, who were known as the administrative and military elite of the Ilbari tribal Clan. He also constructed outpost in high crime areas attended and supervised by his able and loyal guards and set order and peace in the Country. He introduced a well organised and strong espionage system consisting of reporters who would captured every minute events and happenings in the country and would implicitly report the news to the Sultan on a daily basis.

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was not only a strict ruler but was known to be very just. He would not spare anyone who committed a crime or who disobeyed the law and created disorder in the Country. On the contrary, Balban would also respect and show kindness to his slaves and servants who were loyal to him. History has that Balban administered a death sentence to Malik Barbaq who was a powerful land-owner of Badaun. Malik apparently killed a loyal servant of the Sultan which angered the King. The Sultan also ordered an execution of the news reporter who failed to report this unjust event to the Sultan.

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban ruled Delhi up till 1287 AD and upon his death; the Throne was succeeded by his grandson, Muiz-ud-din Qaiqabad, who ruled only for three years between 1287 AD and 1290 AD. Due his incompetence and weakness, the Delhi Sultanate was eventually seized by Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji in 1290 AD, hence, ending the reign of the Slave Dynasty and commencing the reign of the Khilji Dynasty.

After the demise of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban in 1287 AD, he was buried with royal honour in the area known today as the Archaeological Survey Park at Mehrauli in South Delhi. The Tomb is almost in the state of ruins and lacks the extensive ornamental style seen in the Tomb of Iltutmish who was the Master of Balban. What exists today is a rubble square chamber that surrounds the Grave of Balban opened to the sky with arched openings on all sides. The Tomb represents the first Indo-Islamic architectural style to have been built in this Country and was in fact discovered only during the mid 20th Century AD. Before its discovery, Alai Darwaza was known as the first surviving monument of the Country built in 1311 AD.

As you walk towards the east of Balban’s Tomb, you will notice a rectangular structure also in complete ruins which is believed to be the Tomb of Khan Shahid who was the son of Sultan Balban. Khan Shahid or Muhammad (his original name) died in 1285 AD fighting near Multan against the Mughals. The Tombs can be visited on all days with free entry as well as no photography and video filming charges.

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