Delhi is often described as a graveyard, due to the vast number of Tombs that are spread across the city. Most of them look alike, but some stand out.
A small sign along the main road indicated the path towards our destination. It was a narrow dust road, with trees on either side. We walked a short distance before hitting a fork in the road. Short shrubs, open fields, and grazing goats in front of us, city buildings and afternoon traffic behind. But there was no hint of a historical monument in sight.
We asked the man standing next to the goats, where we could find Sultan Ghari. He paused for a while, and then asked us if we wanted to visit the Dargah. We nodded, and he pointed towards the road on the right.
The tomb is a revered place for devotees of both Hindu and Muslim religious communities of the nearby villages of Mahipalpur and Rangpur since they consider the tomb as the dargah of a saintly ‘peer’; a visit to the tomb is more or less mandatory for newlyweds from these two villages. – Wikipedia
These words made me curious…
It wasn’t very far, but hidden behind the trees, the building seemed to magically appear out of nowhere. And the moment we first saw it, we were surprised. It did not look like a tomb at all. In fact, had we not known it was a tomb, we would have assumed it to be a fortress.
Sultan Ghari was built by Iltutmish, for his eldest son Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud – Raziya Sultan’s brother. It was the first Islamic mausoleum built in India.
Considering how old it was, it was beautifully preserved, and looked like it was built just yesterday. We bought our tickets – five rupees each – and climbed up. We were asked to take off our footwear before entering the stone courtyard.
In the centre of the courtyard was a huge octagonal platform, on top of which dozens of pigeons were feasting on seeds. The walls of the fortress had huge ‘windows’. One of the walls had a narrow, steep, open staircase. Standing atop the wall, we caught a bird’s-eye view of the city, as well as ruins from another time.
The actual grave of the prince was beneath the fortress. On one side of the central platform, a small opening lead downstairs to a small chamber. Lit only by oil lamps, it was extremely dark. We felt our way around and stepped down the stairs cautiously. The air was heavy with incense.
A green chadar was spread on the ground, and bataashas were kept next to it – symbols of both Islamic and Hindu faiths.
There was complete silence inside the chamber. So silent, the two of us spoke to each other in hushed tones. While the world boils and burns, fueled by religious animosity, it is places like these that provide hope that peace will one day prevail.
Back outside, we climbed up the stairs along the wall, to get a birds-eye view of the whole complex, as well as the surrounding ruins.
Here are some photographs of Sultan Ghari.
With the main purpose of our visit achieved, we had decided to have a little fun with the pigeons. I must say the pigeons were extremely cooperative, and willingly flew away the moment one of us went near them!
PS. Apologies for the poor quality of images…