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.

Balban’s Tomb

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban rests here..
Balban’s Tomb and (in the background) one of the pillars of the now broken first dome in India

Ghiyas-ud-din. The name doesn’t suit a king. Does it?

The first thing that comes to my mind whenever I hear Ghiyas-ud-din is a person jisko life mein bahut Ghisna pada. May be a lowly servant in a king’s palace.  Though there have been 3 kings of Delhi named Ghiyas-ud-din, but Ghiyas-id-din Balban was indeed a servant – a slave. But he was also a king – the last king of the Slave dynasty. (Literally speaking his grandson who became the king after his death but he ruled for a mere 3 years before the start of Khilji dynasty).

Balban was captured by Mongols as a child and later on ‘bought’ by Iltumish (Razia Sultan’s father and a popular king of slave dynasty). Balban rose in power and became one of the nobles in the court and after much Ghisayi became the king at the age of 60.

The place, which may have been Balban’s palace is also known for it being the first instance of a true arch in Indian architecture. Before that Corbeled Arches or Trabeated arches were used. I did not know what a true arch means before this visit and it is quite interesting to find out the differences.

Balban’s tomb is also known for the site of the first dome in India. The dome no longer exists but the pillars on which it stood are visible and you can imagine a huge round structure on top of it.

Also, some ruins of a city have been unearthed near the place which show homes, markets etc – although in complete ruins.

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