Iltumish’s Tomb


The two tombs within the Qutub complex are a picture in contrast. In a corner lies Alauddin Khilji in a  simple brick structure. Even though Iltumish lived and died before Khilji, he commands a more central place and a more beautiful resting place for himself. It may be one of the first tomb in India which uses marble – some 400 years before the marvel in marble, the Taj Mahal.

Iltumish was one of the first Islamic rulers of India and is many times credited with founding of Delhi Sultanate in India as he shifted his capital to Delhi. He followed Qutb-ud-din Aibak and was the one to complete the Qutub Minar started by his predecessor. He was the one to build the first Islamic tomb of India – of his son at Sultan Garhi. Due to the death of his son, Iltumish also took a rare decision of nominating his daughter Razia Sultan as his heir. Though not very successful (male ego of her subjects to be blamed!!), she was one of the exceptions as far as the gender of the rulers of India are concerned. 

Alauddin Khilji’s tomb

 

 

Alauddin Khilji was the second of the khilji dynasty emperors. Ambitious and aggressive, he was the first islamic ruler to venture south and gain major parts.

Alauddin Khilji is often associated with a popular folklore. According to the story, he, saw after hearing/seeing about the beauty of rani Padma attacked Chittor. The impressive fort of the kingdom provided a good defence. Allaudin lay siege and after a long wait, the women of the kingdom, led by Padmini performed ‘jauhar’ by self immolation on a pyre. The men with no family left behind left the defences of the fort and gave everything they had in a vicious battle. Khilji ultimately prevailed and occupied Chittorgarh.

The year was 1303. 13 years later Allaudin Khilji died and was buried at what is today called Qutub complex. The tomb is a simple brick on  structure with no decorative marble or intricate carvings as in the tomb of Iltumish or the towering Qutub Minar nearby. It lies on a small hill on one corner of the Qutub complex and from my experience of around 5 visit to the place, it is not the most popular spot as far as the visitors choice is concerned. Perhaps the tomb, like the man craves for some beauty.

First tomb of the country

It is the first Islamic tomb of India. But green manicured gardens don’t surround it, there are no history boards displaying information about it at front of the gate and there is no army of people with cameras clicking here. It is hidden away in the jungles of Vasant Kunj area and I had to make 3 rounds to find the turn from the main road which took me – on a kucha road – to this non-descript location.

A person sitting at the entrance of the tomb turned me away when I told him that I intended to take photographs inside. But as I was taking some photos from outside, he called me back and asked if I worked for any newspaper. On confirming that I did not, the permission was granted to go inside.

It is a place of worship and one has to remove his/her shoes before entering the compound where a not-so-famous prince of the Slave dynasty rests. He is Nasir-ud-Din-Mahmud – brother of the famous Razia Sultan. Had he not died an untimely death, Razia Sultan would have never got a chance to sit on the throne. Nasir-ud-din was was the eldest son of Iltumish. He was all set to occupy the thrown, having proved himself by occupying large parts of eastern India. But it was not to be and he died in 1228. His father built him a lavish tomb – the first one in India. It is a unique tomb and from outside looks more like a fort. On the inside it has an octagonal structure representing the buried prince.

The lavishness is all long gone and in any case it does not compare with the mausoleums built later (Taj Mahal!!!). But it is unique being the first one. Just hope it gets a little more attention.

Quli Khan’s Tomb or Metcalfe’s Dilkhusha

Quli Khan is the lesser known brother of Adham Khan – who was (in) famously thrown from the Agra fort by Akbar.

The tomb is lesser known for Quli Khan and more for being the summer/weekend retreat for Sir Thomas Metcalfe – the resident british at the Mughal court. Thomas Metcalfe was instrumental in setting up an arrangement with Mirza Fakhru, one of the sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar – the last Mughal. They signed a secret understanding that British would recognize him as the formal heir after Zafar’s death and Mirza Fakhru would move the Mughal court from Red fort to Mehrauli, thus giving the fort to be used as British barracks. Eventually both Fakhru and Sir Thomas died – allegedly due to poisoning (by one of the wives of Zafar who wanted her son to be the heir to the throne)

But before all that, Sir Thomas Metcalfe made this tomb into a classic retreat home – on the lines of today’s farmhouse and called it Dilkhusha. He removed the grave of Quli Khan and made that room as his dining hall. The blue interiors look magnificent even today and on the outside there was a sprawling garden. Streamlets of water used to flow down from the house towards a dovecote – some of whose bricks are used from ancient temples which were perhaps broken down to build the monuments (like Qutub Minar) that we see today. The whole place gave a tough competition in its magnificence to the Zafar Mahal (Bahadur Shah’s summer retreat) in the same Mehrauli area.

But one thing that still eludes is some information on Quli Khan himself – whose grave has now been restored and who peacefully lies where perhaps Metcalfe’s dining table stood a century and half ago.

Bricks, perhaps used from old temples to be used in the more recent monuments

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