The College with a View

Students studied under the shadow of their teachers

There are tombs strewn all over Delhi. But perhaps one of the most beautiful after-life view is enjoyed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq. He is the guy who built Feroz Shah Kotla – not the cricket stadium but a city which once stood and was later destroyed (the cricket stadium came in there many years later).
He was a liberal ruler, who came in after his tyrant uncle Mohammed Tughlaq and focussed on education and medicine. He built around seventy dispensaries and many Madarsas. One of the them was at the Hauz Khas overlooking the magnificent Hauz Khas tank. He liked the view so much that he decided that this place would also be his resting place. Along with the madarsa he built his to-be tomb 30 years before he died. The tank is now an algae ridden lake but considering the view, studying at this Madarsa must have been a delightful experience. A chronicler of those times once wrote, “People come from East and West in caravan after caravan just to look at it”.

view from college

View from the College

It is hard to imagine that this place, with a dense cover of trees is in the middle of Delhi. May be that is an important difference between Delhi and Mumbai. In Mumbai you hardly find a place where you have the out-of-the-city feel. Delhi on the other hand has many Delhi’s within it – some ruined, some beautiful and some like this corner of Hauz khas – Peaceful. May be it looked peaceful because it was an early Sunday morning.

But I was not alone this morning. There was another group of people who were there visiting the tomb and the Madarsa. A lady in the group was diligently picking up the wrappers of chips, biscuits etc which people had strewn the place with. And some time later as I passed the group, I realized that I knew one of the persons in that group. It was Nandan Nilekani.

More Photos

Perfect Ruins

What it must have been once
Perfect Ruins. It may be an oxymoron but holds perfectly true for the ruins at the Tughalakabad. Colossal is the first word that comes to mind when you cross a bend on the Mehrauli – Badarpur road and have the first glimpse of what was the third city (of the 7 cities) in Delhi. Once inside, the 12 foot thick walls make the traffic sounds simply disappear. It is quite clearly meant to be a military strong-hold but in his hey days had seen splendor too. The famous traveler Ibn Batuta (made more famous by the song in the movie Ishqiya), spent a significant time here under the tyrant king Mohammed Tughlaq. In his words, “..inside Tughlukabad is the great palace whose tiles the Sultan has gilded. When the sun rises they shine with a brilliant light that makes it impossible to keep one’s eyes fixed upon it”. Today that palace is just two broken perpendicular walls, conspicuous in their isolation

Remains of the Palace

On the eastern side there are some spectacular ruins of what was once a market place. Some houses are clearly recognizable. From some of the bastions you get breath taking 360 degree view of a vast flat land. It reminds you of a famous curse associated with this place. Nizamuddin Aulya, the famous sufi saint had once cursed Ghiyassudin Tuglak with the words, “Hunuz Dilli dur ast” (Delhi abhi door hai)

As you sit some 20 meters above the ground, cool breeze gently ruffling you with nothing but silence to give you company, Delhi truly seems far away.

Tughlakabad City

Delhi seems far away

kisi zamane ka ghar

Must have been some one’s home once

Ruins of Tughlakabad

Splendid Ruins

(Ibn Batuta Quote from the book City of Djinns by William Dalrymple)