Picture Credits: Bhanu
There’s no story better than a ghost story; and, certainly, none better than one with a ruined monument that stands witness to an ancient curse. In Delhi’s southern quarter, there comes a roomy, smooth stretch of road lined with a fair deal of greenery on either side. The road slopes upwards & swings generously as you move further, making driving fun & motorcycling heavenly. A ruined fort rises alongside the road; it’s crumbling, yet massive ramparts standing a silent witness to a change its builders could never have imagined.
The Tughlaqabad fort is what the edifice is called. It was built by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, the first ruler of Delhi’s Tughlaq Dynasty, in 1321. It was part of his city of Tughlaqabad; the fifth historical city that today forms a part of the national capital.
Legend has it that Tughlaq wanted a powerful fortress capable of withstanding a Mongol assault. Assiduously desiring the completion of the fort, the Sultan ordered that all the labourers in Delhi be assigned to the fort. This drew the ire of the Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who found work on his baoli interrupted. In a confrontation with the ruler, the Sufi saint is believed to have cursed the royal fort, saying, “May the fort remain unoccupied, or else may herdsmen live here.”
The massive, magnificent ruins of the fort stand as a sentinel to Tughlaqabad to this day, but true to the words of the curse, it is a desolate haunt, albeit a great grandeur.
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq wasn’t too lucky either. Like many kings before & after his time, he had an ambitious son who was in quite a hurry to ascend the throne and doff a crown. En route to Delhi after a successful campaign in Bengal, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq met his son Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq at Kara in Uttar Pradesh (UP). The year was 1324. On his son’s orders, apparently, a Shamiana (tent used for parties) fell on the Sultan & he was crushed beneath the tent-poles.
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’s tomb stands near the fort, an elegant building in red sandstone & white marble, bearing the customary calligraphic inscriptions on its walls have withstood the test of time.
The haunted stories apart, the place is a great one to visit, certainly a brilliant one to ride or drive through. The lush jungle, while dry & scaly in the summers, becomes beautiful after the rains & is home to as diverse a range of flora & fauna as you are unlikely to find inside a city.
It’s located on the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road & the nearest metro station is Tughlaqabad on the Violet Line after which public transport can be taken to reach the fort.
The Asola Wildlife Sanctuary lies close by & nature lovers should not give it a miss!