Tughluqabad

along the Mehrauli-Badarpur highway
along the Mehrauli-Badarpur highway

Last week, while on a brief sabbatical from work, I took a micro-adventure to Tughluqabad in Delhi’s Southeast corner. Sitting on a massive site along the Mehrauli-Badarpur highway is the remains of the 14th century Tughluqabad Fort. Tughluqabad is the ill-fated capital of the 3rd historic city of Delhi. It’s ruler, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq is buried in an adjoining Tomb connected to the fort by a narrow causeway, which used to travel above the fort’s moat but now travels above the highway. Legend tells of a feud between the Sufi Saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, and the Emperor, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. The story is that when construction began on the fort, workers were removed from the construction of buildings in Hazrat Nizamuddin’s locality. Hazrat Nizamuddin in turn foretold of Ghiyasuddin’s impending fate. Some few years later the Emperor met his demise, and in his absence, the capital moved once again back to central Delhi, and Tughluqabad Fort was abandoned.

 

the guts of the rubble built walls visible as testament to the shear strength and impregnability they once embodied
the guts of the rubble built walls visible as testament to the shear strength and impregnability they once embodied

These days, the fort stands as ruins, the guts of the rubble built walls visible as testament to the shear strength and impregnability they once embodied. Situated on a hilltop, the fort also offers beautiful views of the valley below, and of the tomb of its creator across the highway.

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq is buried in an adjoining Tomb connected to the fort by a narrow causeway
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq is buried in an adjoining Tomb connected to the fort by a narrow causeway

Walking down the stone ramp from the main gate of the fort, crossing the highway, and emerging back onto the causeway, I made my way to the tomb. I was stopped at the gate where the guard demanded to see my ticket. Not having bought one, I decided to try negotiating with the guard. I explained to him that I didn’t want to have to walk back the entire length of the causeway to the ticket office and then back again. When I could see that the guard understood my dilemma and was caving in, I walked into the tomb with my new acquaintance following close behind. Since we were still talking, the guard began describing the history and architecture of the tomb. After a full tour of the tomb we left, but as we both stepped back outside the main gate, the guard-cum-guide asked for his tip. It was fair enough I figured to tip my tour guide, so I handed him a fifty-rupee note. As I walked back towards the main road I realized I had just committed my first bribe.

Owen Sanders Jollie began studying Hindi during his freshman year of college at Emory University. Since then, his interest in India has expanded to include Urdu poetry, Indian politics, and U.S.-India relations. Owen comes to the fellowship from the Center for Strategic and International Studies where he was a researcher with the Wadhwani Chair for U.S.-India Policy Studies. Owen's most recent trip to India was this past summer, when he spent two months in Lucknow studying Urdu at the American Institute of Indian Studies. He plans to continue learning both Hindi and Urdu and to expand his understanding of Indian politics with a focus on the development of corporate social responsibility. Owen grew up in Seattle, Washington and is an avid baseball fan.

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