We explored the historic Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi last weekend. While exploring the fort in the whimsical city of Tughlaqabad (the third historic city of Delhi), I felt nostalgically attracted to the crumbling ruins.
Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi
The place attracted my attention many times before while going towards Faridabad, but couldn’t get a chance to visit. Yes, the mark of the power of Tuglaq dynasty is in ruins now. Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi was built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty.
Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq was a soldier in Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji’s army. Ghiyas-ud-din’s hard work and perseverance helped him to grab the chance to govern Dipalpur and get the position of Warden of Marches” of the combined armies of Ala-ud-din Khilji. Ghiyas-ud-din became one of the first-rank generals of Ala-ud-din’s armies. He continued to retain his position during the rule of Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah, Ala-ud-din’s son. Once, while traveling to Delhi, Qutb-ud-din Mubarak and Ghiyas-ud-din were passing through the area where Tughlaqabad fortress exists now; fascinated by the rocky altitudes which were ideal for defense, Ghiyas-ud-din suggested to build the fortress in the area. The Khilji made fun of him propounding him to build his fortress here when he becomes a king.
Being a weak and amorphous sultan, Mubarak was soon killed by his own prime minister, Hasan who became the Sultan of Delhi as Nasir-ud-din Khusro Shah title. Ghiyas-ud-din later defeated and crucified Hasan and became the sultan of Delhi under the title of Ghazi (murderer of enemies). That’s when he built the mighty Tughlaqabad fortress.
The fortified city of Tughlaqabad is said to have had around 52 gates formerly but only 13 are left now. The ruins echo the forgotten might and majesty of the Tughlaq Dynasty. The deserted, rugged and dusty fort still looks imposing in all its ruins.
Legends of Tughlaqabad Fort
There are interesting legends behind the abandoned fortified city. It’s believed to be a cursed city. Ghiyas-ud-din’s capital city and Hazrat Nizamuddin’s baoli (step-well) were under construction at the same time. Ghiyas-ud-din ordered that all the laborers in Delhi would only work on the fortress or else they’ll be punished. Out of fear the laborers started working on the fortress but because of their respect and devotion for the Sufi saint, they carried on the construction of baoli during off-hours. The king raised oil prices to stop the work at baoli; the saint retaliated by uttering a with a prophecy “Ya rahe usar, ya base Gujjar” (Either it remains barren or be inhabited by nomads). Ghiyas-ud-din was out then but as soon as he heard about the prophecy of the saint; he swore to punish him after coming to Delhi. Hearing this, the Sufi saint cursed the king saying “Hunuz Dilli dur ast” (Delhi is yet far away).
The prophecies of the saint came true and the sultan was killed while coming back to Delhi. His son, Muhammad Tughlaq was a devotee of Hazrat Nizamuddin and it’s believed that he himself was responsible for the death of his father. Muhammad Tughlaq relinquished Tughlaqabad as it was cursed and built his bastion named Muhammadabad earlier and Adilabad (Abode of the just) later on. Adilabad is quite similar in architecture to Tughlaqabad, however, is smaller in comparison. Tughlaqabad remained abandoned and Gujjars inhabited the surrounding area.
The Quila gives completely abandoned and haunted look especially at night but lovers have turned this defensive structure into a lovers point. You’ll encounter many in the hush corners while traversing the huge fort.
Surprisingly, it was brimming with people as I thought it to be cloistered, maybe because it was a Sunday!
It’s not possible to explore the ruins of the entire city because the areas have been engulfed by thorny shrubs and wild vegetation.
Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq
Southerly side of the fort has an artery (causeway) which takes one across the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. The tomb was built by the Ghiyas-ud-din himself on an archipelago in the lake. The lake has dried out but the causeway still prevails. Inside the tomb complex, there are three graves: Middle one is of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq and the other two are considered to be of his wife and son. The mausoleum’s architecture especially the lotus carved ceiling draws one’s attention, however, poignant and deafening silence is perplexing.
In the same tomb complex, there’s another tomb similar to Ghiyas-ud-din’s tomb in architecture and design but quite smaller which is believed to belong to Zafar Khan who was a General in Ghiyas-ud-din’s army.
Near to Adilabad is a third fortress known as “Nai ka Kot” (Barber’s fort) which was used as Muhammad Tughlaq’s abode while Adilabad was under construction.
On account of the constant threat of Mongols, Mohammed Tughlaq built the fourth city of Delhi referred to as Jahanpanah encompassing the former cities of Siri and Lal Kot with 13 gates. Neither the city nor the fort remained. Ibn Battuta’s chronicles implicit that Muhammad Shah hoped to see a consolidated city constituting Old Delhi, Siri, Jahanpanah and Tughlaqabad with single adjoining fortification enveloping them but expense factors compelled him to forget about his wish.
Delhi has history and culture embedded in its soul. Age-old forts and tombs stand strong here echoing the days of yore.
Tughlaqabad fort is one of the famous forts in Delhi and thus, a must-visit.
- Indians (Above 15 years) – Rs. 5
- Children (Under 15 years) – Free
- Foreigners Rs. 100
Tughlaqabad Fort Timings
7 am – 5 pm
The fort is open all days of the week.
Duration of Visit/ Time Required
2 to 3 hours
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit Tughlaqabad Fort or for that matter any attraction in Delhi is the winter season (October – March.)
How to Reach
Tughlaqabad Fort is situated at Mehrauli Badarpur Road in Delhi. The best way to reach here is by your own vehicle. There’s ample parking space available.
The fort can be reached by metro, and bus too. Located on violet line, Govindpuri metro station is the nearest (5 km) Tughlakabad metro station. DTC bus numbers 525, 511, 34, 717, and 544 make a stop at Tughlakabad bus stand which is around 5 km away from the fort. One can take an autorickshaw or taxi from the metro station or bus stand to reach the fort. Check the official website of Delhi Metro and DTC for more info.
Tips to Visit Tughlaqabad Fort
- Early morning is the best time to visit be it summer or winter.
- Wear comfortable shoes as I mentioned that the area is full of thorny shrubs and wild vegetation.
- There are not many food options near the fort. Carry your snacks and water.
- Views from the top are lovely, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Bequeathed with panoramic beauty, intense stone structures and just a minimal amount of ticket to discover this colossal and wide place hiding the fragments of our glorious history makes the fortress a must-visit.
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