Ghiyasuddin’s Tomb is located right next to Tughlakabad Fort, a raised causeway truncated by the main Mehrauli-Badarpur road takes you a short distance into a small fortified enclosure containing the imposing monument.
Built from red sandstone and white marble, the tomb is unlike anything else in the Tughlakabad area. It is also significant in that the architecture is a very early version of the Indo-Islamic style that became common for the next century.
Ghiyasuddin Tughlak was Sultan for just four years from 1320 – 1324, and by all accounts he was a competent and just ruler who rarely resorted to bloodshed. His demise however is shrouded in mysterious circumstances…
Whilst Tughlakabad was being built by Ghiyasuddin, the Sufi mystic Nizamuddin Aulia was overseeing the construction of a baoli (step-well) which was drawing labour away from the construction of the fort. Incensed by this, Ghiyasuddin forbade the labourers from working for Nizamuddin on his well. This parallel demand for the labourers brought about a situation where they worked on Tughlakabad during the day, but then moved to work on the baoli at night.
This enraged Ghiyasuddin even further, so he stopped the sale of oil to Nizamuddin, thus preventing any nighttime activity. Folklore says that Nizamuddin was undeterred, and by some miracle the baoli started giving off sufficient light – some stories go further to suggest the water was turned to oil that could then be burned.
It’s at this stage of proceedings that Nizamuddin put his famous curse on Tughlakabad :
“ Ya rahey ujjar, ya basey gujjar”
(“Either it will be inhabited by Gujjars, or it will remain barren”)
Both these things actually subsequently happened after Ghiyasuddin’s death, and until recently the barren Tughlakabad was only used by Gujjars, traditional cattle herders.
A further legend has it that when Ghiyasuddin was returning to Delhi from a military campaign he was met by his son, Mohammad, some distance away from the city. His son erected a temporary pavilion to greet his father, but while Ghiyasuddin was inside the pavilion it collapsed, killing both Ghiyasuddin and another of his sons, Prince Mahmud Khan.
Muhammad was strangely absent when this event occurred. It is said that this is because Nizamuddin had seemed to predict Ghiyasuddin’s death. On hearing that Ghiyasuddin was approaching Delhi, Nizamuddin is reputed to have said
“Hunuz Dilli dur ast”
(“Delhi is yet far off”)
As a result, Nizamuddin and Muhammad were suspected of plotting Ghiyasuddin’s death. Ibn Battuta a Muslim Moroccan scholar and explorer who visited Tughlakabad a decade later claimed it was a conspiracy, hatched by Ghiyasuddin’s vizier, Jauna Khan (Khwajah Jahan).[
Inside the mausoleum are three graves. The central one belongs to Ghiyasuddin Tughlak, and the other two are believed to be those of his wife and his son and successor, Muhammad.
It’s unclear whether the tomb was built before Ghiyasuddin’s death, or whether it was built or completed after his death by his son, Muhammad.
If you’re visiting Tughlakabad Fort it’s well worth taking a few minutes to explore Ghiyasuddin’s Tomb opposite. It’s a peaceful and tranquil location, the perfect place to rest after exploring the fort.
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