Monday, 5 August 2019

Tughlaqabad Fort (1320), Delhi, a massive fort of grandeur - in ruins

Tughlaqabad Fort, built in 1320 is on  the outskirts of Delhi, aloof and secluded from public view. What was once a formidable fort in the 14 th century is in a dilapidated state now because of sheer negligence and lack of periodic maintenance.  
Tughlaqabad Fortvvwww.gounesco.com/
One of the early monuments of Delhi sultanate dynasty spreading across 6 km, Tughlaqabad Fort was almost facing total crumbling. The ruined fort built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq is an example of lost grandeur, Thanks to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and the conservationists  who made up their mind to restore it back to old glory. One 100% restoration is impossible, however they can  improve and strengthen the unaffected parts of the monument  and try to bring back the correct identity/ look of the fort as it was, including the underground passage and water bodies and palace building inside the fort. Since 2017, work has been going on to restore this fort, pride of Tughlaq dynasty. It is an engineering marvel built over a short period with  huge  ramparts, battlements and amazing stone-work. All these throw light on the talented construction workers and the architect.
Tughlaqabad Fortwww. gounesco.com
This  ruined fort in Delhi was built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate of India in 1321, as he established the fourth historic city of Delhi, which was later abandoned in 1327. Tughlaqabad is a residential-commercial area  now.  Qutub-Badarpur Road, which connected the new city to the Grand Trunk Road is now known as Mehrauli-Badarpur Road. It was primarily built by Tuglaq. Okhla Industrial Area is nearby..
Tughlaqabad Fortwww. gounesco.com
walls of Tughlaqabad Fort get a facelift indianexpress.com

The story goes like this: Ghazi Malik, a feudatory of the Khalji rulers of Delhi, India  while on a walk with his Khalji master, suggested that the king build a strong fort on a hillock in the southern part of Delhi. The king retorted jokingly  that Ghazi could build the fort himself when he would become the ruler. It is mentioned that in 1321, Ghazi Malik seized the sultanate from  the Khaljis  and drove them away. He assumed the title of Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq and started  the Tughlaq dynasty. No sooner had he gained power and money than he began the construction of his dream fort - a Strong one to thwart enemy attacks, in particular, powerful Mongol army.  However, one can not go against the edit of God. It is not a good thing to earn the curse of saintly people who dedicate their lives to the welfare of the humanity, in particular, poor people. 
ruined fort of Tughlaqabad during sunset  en.wikipedia.org
Ghias-ud-din earned the ire of the sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya, because the work on his well - baoli was stopped as the ruler wanted all workers for the construction of the fort. The saint wanted the well very much for his use and others. Going against the diktat was punishable.  The saint was so much furious he uttered a curse which was to resonate throughout history  until today. He said,  ''Ya rahey ujjar, ya basey gujjar” meaning “either it remains inhabited or be occupied by herdsmen”, according to historians.  The Emperor, upon his successful  campaign in Bengal, was on 
his way to Delhi. His son, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, met him at Kara in Uttar Pradesh. At Afghanpur, UP a Shamiana (Tent) with wooden poles fell on the Emperor, who was crushed to death (1324). Contemporary Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta claims that it was a conspiracy hatched by vizier Juana Khan. There is a mausoleum of Ghiyas ud-Din Tughluq in the fort.
Underground passage of Tughlaqabad fort  en.wikipedia.org
This fort built as part of Tughlaqabad is made of fine redstone and was  commissioned by Tughlaq emperor, Sultan Giyas-ud-Din Tughlaq in the year 1321 and was completed in the year 1325. Quite interesting aspect of this fort is such a sturdy fort was built on a rough terrain within a span of just four years  - too short a period for building fortification for defence purposes that would need proper planning to make in self-sufficient. Tughlaqabad town, the 3rd one  in the Delhi  sultanate era and the fort came up in a secluded area - primarily  for defence purposes as the political situation in those time was a volatile The Mongols were on the rampage in the central Asia  and a force to reckon with and they had an eye on Delhi and its grandeur. Their mistaken notion was Delhi Sultanate was  very rich and had lots of treasures. Northwestern boarder of the sultanate and the outposts were quite vulnerable to raids and had poor capability to tackle heavy raids, This worrisome fact and the determination to keep the sultanate safe   Giyas-ud-Din had built this  fort which was invincible. The ruler abandoned the fort after 15 yeras and never occupied it. 

Tughlaqabad Fort walls by the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road, built 
with massive stones  surround  the irregular ground plan
of the city. The additional fortifications include  the cobble impregnated sloping, 10 to 15 meter walls  straightened by battlemented parapets atop and circular bastions up to two stories height. Provided with seven  rain water tanks to sustain life in case of siege, once there were as many as 52 gates, but only 13 have survivrd so far. 

Tughluqabad fort complex has three sections: 01.The  town with  houses built along a rectangular grid between its gates. 02.  The citadel ha a watch a tower at its highest point known called Bijai-Mandal, a useful feature to alert the ruler in case of an enemy attack. 03. The other feature is  there are several halls and a long underground passage in the fort.
They are not in good shape presently.

The place was ridden with wild  growth of vegetation and thorny bushes. ASI already removed them and had a plan to restore it  phases. The were paticular about additional facilities like toilet, potable water,etc  and are coordinating with other departments.     

There was a vast artificial water reservoir within the fortified outpost of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq's Tomb, south of Tughlaqabad. The mausoleum  is well-preserved and  connected to the fort by an elevated causeway that still exists.  ASI  requested the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to help with illumination of the fort. They did some lighting work a few years ago but it failed later. Their contention is lots of people  visit Tughlaqabad Fort, especially during the Surajkund Mela. When the fort has illumination. it will bring in more people.