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Tughlaqabad Fort, New Delhi

Tughlaqabad Fort Overview

The well-protected Tughlaqabad, the third city of Delhi was built by Ghiyathu'd-Din Tughluq (1321-25). Being located on the wrecked hills, it has an additional architectural natural advantage to it. The fort is being divided in two parts; the citadel and palaces that are placed along the southern walls forming a unit and also the city which is located in the north. Out of these two the citadel is flawless and even the palaces can be observed however it is the other part that narrates its story of embattled past and terror. However, if carefully observed its streets can still be detected.

History:
Long back when khalji rulers were in reign in Delhi then ghazi malik was a feudatory to them. Once while walking with his master considering an extremely apt point on a hillock in the southern portion of Delhi for building a fort, ghazi shared the idea with his master. Master jokingly told him to build it himself when he comes to the throne, unknowingly that one day ghazi malik will drive away the khaljis. After coming to the throne ghazi immediately started the reformation of his renowned city. He beautified his city in every way possible but also keeping in mind to prevent it from the Mongolian marauders.

However, ghazi was unaware of the fact that his dream of building a marvelous city will ultimately lead to it only being cursed. History speaks that Ghias-ud-din was so impatient to build his city that he ordered all the laborers in Delhi to concentrate on his fort only, following which Nizamuddin Auliya’s Baoli work got stopped at which he got extremely furious. He cursed that the Fortified City (Hissar) will witness settlement only if the gypsies (Gujjars) decide to settle, the fact being that gypsies (Gujjars) lead nomadic life. Another of the saint’s curses was Hunuz Dilli dur ast which can be translated as Delhi is still far away. At a time when emperor was busy in a campaign in Bengal and had successfully completed it and was on his way to Delhi, ordered to kill him by making a shamiana fall over him and was quiet successful.

Architecture:
Despite of having faced massive killings there are still certain gigantic stone bulwarks which encompasses the ground plan of the city. One of the most striking features of the monuments of Tughlakabad is its sloping rubble-filled city walls which are about 10 and 15 meters in height and are topped by battlemented barricades and are further reinforced by circular bastions which are nearly two stories in height. The security of the city was further buttressed by installment of about 52 gates out of which nearly 13 have remained. 7 rainwater tanks is another important thing to watch in this fortified city.

There could have been several other interesting things which could have served as a treat to the eyes but due to dense thorny vegetation most of the city is inaccessible. The areas surrounding the lakes have been occupied by the modern settlement. Another well-safeguarded mausoleum is well connected to the fort by an uplifted causeway which is still intact. In the southeast are the residues of the fortress of ‘Adilabad, which was also built in a strikingly similar way.

Location : Tughlaqabad is the third city of Delhi, located about 10 kms. east of Qutub complex along the Mahrauli-Badarpur Road.
The Origin : Tughluqabad Fort was situated on high rocky ground, an ideal location to withstand enemy attacks. The origin of the historic city of Tughlaqabad and the Tughlaqabad Fort goes to the period of the Delhi Sultanate. The Tughlaqs who followed the Khiljis were great builders and the city of Tughlaqabad and Tughlaqabad Fort were their first major architectural achievement. The story behind Ghazi Malik (founder of the Tughlaq dynasty) was once a slave of Mubarak Khilji, the last Khilji sultan. One day, while walking by the area Ghazi Malik suggested to his master that the rocky prominence would be an ideal site for building a fort. The Khilji sultan laughed at his slave and suggested that the slave build a fort there when he became a sultan. When Ghazi Malik, as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, founded the Tughlaq Dynasty in 1321, he did just that—Tughlaqabad is Delhi’s most colossal and awesome fort, even in its ruined state. In fact Ghiyasuddin had selected this site for the fort when he was a mere soldier. The fort of Tughlaqabad was completed rapidly in a short span of four years. Within its sky-touching walls, double-storied bastions, and gigantic towers were housed grand palaces, splendid mosques, and audience halls. Tughlaqabad is a formidable reminder of Delhi’s embattled past and the terror. It was a period of political unrest and the Delhi Sultanate had to face a number of attacks from hoards of marauding Mongols, who descended on it in waves from the north. The massive fortifications of Tughlaqabad, with immense circular bastions, were raised by Ghiyas-ud-din to protect his subjects.
Legends Of Tughlaqabad : There are a number of legends associated with Tughlaqabad. It is often said that the skulls of the killed Mongol marauders were used in the construction material of this awesome fort. Its construction involved a legendary quarrel with the saint Nizam-ud-din. When the Tughluq ruler took the workers whom Nizam-ud-din wanted for work on his shrine the saint cursed the king with the warning that only the Gujjars (shepherds) would inhabit his city. The demise of Tughlaqabad was not brought about by any foreign invasion, but to the curse of a Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din. The legendary quarrel between the two started when Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq did not allow his people to work for the saint on the construction of a baoli (step well), which angered the saint. A protracted tiff followed, which offended the saint and led to his famous prophecy “Hunuz Dilli dur ast” (Delhi is yet far away), for the sultan was then out in Bengal. His prophecies proved true. Ghiyas-ud-din was killed at a place near Delhi when a shamiana (canopy) collapsed over him during a reception arranged by his son. The sultan could not reach Delhi alive. His successor chose to build his own fort and deserted Tughlaqabad. It is generally believed that the death of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq was engineered and plotted by his son. One story describes that Muhammad bin Tughlaq killed his father by building a false wooden balcony, which collapsed and killed Ghiyas-ud-din. The son murdered and ascended the throne of Delhi, thus making the prophecies of Saint Nizam-ud-din come true. The massive block walls glow a beautiful golden colour in the afternoon sun. The remains of underground markets and some royal residences are visible inside the walls.
An Architectural Marvel with Military Style : The massive Tughlaqabad Fort, is not only symbolic of the might of the Tughlaq dynasty, but it is a piece of architectural marvel. It was a part of the dream project of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq when he built the capital at Tughlaqabad. However, this powerful edifice did not last long and fell to the curse of a saint. The crumbling ruins of the Tughlaqabad Fort convey a sense of lost grandeur. The massive ramparts, battlements, and the mammoth stonework of this fort speak highly of the engineering skills of the workers who constructed it. The fort served the dual purpose of a defensive structure as well as the imperial capital of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. There are a number of monuments within the precincts of this fort.
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