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. 

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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.