Hauz Khas the
remains of a grand Muslim centre of learning, an ancient reservoir
and the stately tomb of the great builder king, Firuz Shah Tughluq!
This is indeed a unique historical site not a palace or a
sort, the usual architectural product of history, but an ancient
A narrow road, south of
Green Park, Delhi, winds through the village of Hauz Khas where
surprisingly commerce has come to settle in this dusty settlement,
lining the road with boutiques and show-rooms advertising the tinsel
world of glamour and glitter. Standing in stark contrast and cheek by
jowl is the pre-eminent 600 year old monument of Hauz Khas, a symbol
of mans eternal quest for wisdom and learning.
As one walks through the
gates of Hauz Khas it is an experience how all at once the
past overtakes. The stone structures, domes and tombs are sans
ornamentation, embellishments and intricate art of the later Muslim
period. Austere and plain and yet Hauz Khas has an impressive beauty
of its own!
It was here that the
third Khalji king Ala-ud-Din excavation the larger water tank
Hauz Khas, originally known as Hauzi-i-Alai. The deep, expensive
reservoir flanked by steps an example of the ingenious water
storage system- has now gone dry. This was the pond that stored water
for the inhabitants of Siri, the third of the seven cities of Delhi,
which king Ala-ud-Din had founded in 1303.
The wheel of history
turns on forever. The Khalji rule ended with the murder of
Ala-ud-Dins third son, Qutub-ud-Din Mubarak Khan. The Tughlaqs
came to power.
The third Tughlaq king,
Firuz Shah, a noted conservator and builder of mosques, hunting
lodges and the founder of the sixth city of Delhi, Firuzabad, now
known as Kotla Firoz Shah, is said to have desilted Hauz Khas Hauz
Khas and also repaired it.
Here along the
south-eastern banks of the tank, Firuz Shah raised a row of L
shaped double-storeyed halls and chambers in about 1352 which was the
Madarsa i.e. college for religious learning. The chambers of
this college have balconied windows, deep niches probably for storing
books and stairways leading down to the water tank. At the northern
end stands a mosque.
Like the Khalji kings,
the Tughlaqs too were patrons of art and learning so that scholars,
artists, architects and craftsmen from Western and Central Asia
flocked to the court of Delhi which became a centre of scholarship in
the 14th century.
Firuz Shah, himself an
author, showed great zeal for the cause of education by establishing
over a thousand schools and colleges. The famous historian of the
time Zia-ud-Din Barni had noted. The capital of Delhi, by the
present of these unrivalled men of great talents had become the envy
of Bagdad, the rival of Cairo and the equal of Constantinople. The
Madarsa at Hauz Khas is a standing testimony of Sultan Firuz Shahs
love of learning.
And here at Hauz Khas at
a most appropriate site, lies entombed in eternal sleep, in the
centre of a rubble-built square chamber with a high dome, the learned
king Firuz Shah. The ceiling of this mausoleum chamber is decorated
with plaster work and inscriptions from the Quran. There are other
graves inside this room, two of which belong to a son and grandson of
Scattered in the
neighbourhood of Hauz Khas, the tank, are several grave
probably belonging to the teachers of the Madarsa. And dotting the
green lawns are raised platforms with pillars topped with domes. Here
scholars may have rested, meditated and discoursed amidst a setting
that must have been ideal with a cool breeze blowing in from
the life-nourishing water rippling in Hauzi-i-Alai and peacocks, deer
and monkeys co-existing in the green surroundings.