Sultan Ghari’s Tomb
The Tomb of Sultan Ghari is situated near Malakpur Kohli village which lies on the Mehrauli-Palam Road approximately 8 km west of Qutb complex in South Delhi. It is flanked by the Vasant Kunj, C-Block sector, a modern Delhi suburb that lies just across the Tomb and the place is hence easily approachable via local cabs, buses and auto rickshaws. The Tomb is known as the first Islamic Mausoleum to be constructed for Prince Nasir-ud-din Mahmud in 1231 AD that depicts one of the finest examples of the architectural styles of the Mamluk (Slave) Dynasty. He was the eldest son of Sultan Iltutmish, the first Sultan of the Slave Dynasty to rule over the Delhi Sultanate between 1210 AD and 1236 A.D.
Prince Nasir-ud-din Mahmud overthrew and executed Iwaz and his nobles after he won the battle near Lakhnauti in 1227 AD. After winning the battle, the Prince merged his own province of Oudh along with Bihar and Bengal and established Lakhnauti as his capital city which conferred him the title of ‘Malik-Us-Sharq’ which means ‘King of the East’ awarded by his father, Sultan Iltutmish.
Prince Nasir-ud-din Mahmud ruled only for a short span of 18 months as he was killed in a battle. The death of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud caused immense hurt and pain to Sultan Iltutmish as he was one of his favourite sons. In memory of his son, Sultan Iltutmish constructed a Tomb in 1231 AD which was named ‘Sultan Ghari’.
History has that the two sons of Sultan Iltutmish, Prince Rukn-ud-din Feroze Shah who died in 1237 A.D and Muiz-ud-din Bahram Shah who was killed in 1241 A.D after a short rule along with their sister Razia Sultan who ruled in between were all buried in separate Chattris next to the Tomb of Sultan Ghari, though, there are controversies that still surround the actual location of the Tomb of Razia Sultan wherein the original is marked in Old Delhi near Turkman Gate. The Tomb of Sultan Ghari was repaired by Sultan Ferozshah Tughlaq of the Tughlaq Dynasty while one of the Chattris which is a stand-alone structure was also restored during the rule of Ferozshah Tughlaq. The others could not be restored as they were probably destroyed during the reign of the Khilji Dynasty.
Today, the Complex that surrounds Sultan Ghari’s Tomb is deemed as a heritage area that spans over a massive expanse of land measuring 61.8 acres. Declared as a Grade ‘A’ Monument, its restoration and conservation works is handled by INTACH or ‘The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’ while the Delhi Development Authority contributed to planning and implementing construction work to revive the ancient glory and rustic charm of this area.
The Entrance Gateway into Sultan Ghari’s Tomb has been reconstructed with Dholpur sandstones in order to match with the original composition of the Tomb. The approach paths have been restricted to four tracks that lead you straight into the main Tomb of Sultan Ghari and a water conservation area has been planned to meet the requirements of the garden surrounding the Tomb Complex.
The area on which the Tomb of Sultan Ghari is situated today was once known as the first medieval city of the Slave or Mamluk Dynasty who ruled over the Delhi Sultanate between 1206 AD and 1290 AD. Later, five more Imperial cities were constructed which were subsequently ruled by the Khilji Dynasty between 1290 AD and 1320 AD, the Tughlaq Dynasty between 1320 AD and 1413 AD, the Sayyid Dynasty between 1414 AD and 1451 AD, the Lodi Dynasty between 1451 AD and 1526 AD followed by the Mughal rule that lasted from 1526 AD up till 1857 AD.
The Tomb of Sultan Ghari lies in a ‘Ghari’ or ‘Cave’ that can be approached through steep and winding stone steps which are supported by pillars and hence the name was derived. The roof of the Cave is seen with the flat slab built in the typical shape of an octagon. The exterior structure of the Tomb was constructed with sandstone and overlaid with marble walls supported by towers at the corners. This structure exudes the look of a small fortress seen in the classic Oriental and Persian styles of architecture. The Chamber of the Tomb is supported by four towers that are raised by two pillars each supporting a beam which showcases ancient relics of Hindu Temples on the Columns as well as on the floor. The ‘Qibla’ or ‘Prayer Hall’ situated on the western end houses a Mihrab made of marble depicting intricate Afghan and Turkish designs as well as inscriptions engraved on it taken from the Holy Book of Quran. There are several graves within this Tomb which are unknown even today.
Archaeological findings by ASI near the Tomb Complex of Sultan Ghari reveal ruins of an ancient village, an inscription dated 1361 AD that talks of a tank that was excavated during a marriage, a Stone Linga symbolising Lord Shiva, a dilapidated Mosque, Jama Masjid and ‘Khanqah’ which means a ‘Spiritual Retreat’ located on the southern end of the Tomb; all which belonged to the era of Sultan Ferozshah Tughlaq of the Tughlaq Dynasty and a few remains of the Mughal era.
The Tomb of Sultan Ghari also known as the ‘Dargah’ or ‘Saintly Place’ is considered sacred by Hindu as well as Muslim devotees from the neighbouring Villages of Mahipalpur and Rangpur. It is a mandate for all Newly Weds to visit this Tomb for blessings. Due to its religious significance, the locals maintain this area even better than ASI themselves.
Hindu and Muslim devotees throng the Tomb of Sultan Ghari every Thursday as it is marked to be special for worships and showcases the unified bond between these two religious sects. The ‘Urs’ or the ‘Death Anniversary’ of Prince Nasir-ud-din Mahmud is celebrated annually on every 17th Day of the month of Ziqad which falls between the festivals of Ramadan and Eid and is attended by people from all the corners of Delhi.
Tourists and visitors are also welcomed to witness the aforementioned events as well as to view the Tomb Complex on any day from early morning hours up till evenings for an entry fee of INR 5.00 per head for Indian Citizens and visitors of SAARC which comprise of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as the BIMSTEC Countries which comprise of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Children who are 15 years of age and below are allowed free entry while Foreign Nationals need to pay INR 100.00 or $2.00 per head as entry fee.