Situated on a small expanse of land near the narrow streets of Khirki Village, the tomb of Sheikh Yusuf Qattal and associated structures is yet another of those less visited or known about monuments in Delhi that I always find myself gravitating towards.
Sheikh Yusuf Qattal was a popular Sufi saint, who lived during the reigns of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi (1517-1526) and Badshah Zahiruddin Muhammad “Babur” (1526-1530), and died in 1527. He is believed to have performed religious devotions at nearby Satpula, a water harvesting dam built during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
The tomb is a small and very ornate twelve-pillared pavilion constructed from red sandstone with a plastered drum and dome. In between the pillars is fine Jali stone lattice screens sculpted in multiple fine geometric patterns that throw up a kaleidoscope of light and shadows in the interior. As a photographer, those contrasting shapes of light and shadow is something I am always attracted to.
It’s a beautifully propertioned structure, the last few remaining blue tiles at the base of the dome give a hint of how spectacular it must have been centuries ago. Records indicate that the tomb was commissioned by Sheikh Alauddin, the grandson of the Sufi saint Sheikh Fariduddin Ganjshakar, the spiritual mentor of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
Next to the tomb is a rectangular building with three arched openings, I presume a mosque. This appears to have been whitewashed on three sides in recent years, but the makeover is wearing away leaving the structure less attractive than it could be.
Next to the mosque is a similarly proportioned bare brick structure, most likely to be a congregational hall.
In the open ground in front of these three structures is a small ruin consisting of six pillars arranged in a hexagonal shape, surrounding a single tomb at the center. This appears to be all that remains of a chhatri mausoleum, the dome above having long since disappeared. Exactly who this monument was built for we will never now, and the tomb now lies open to the sky and probably rarely noticed by any visitors.
Stylistically all the structures here are a little different, which may suggest they were not constructed at the same time and that this site was perhaps added to over many decades.
The tomb of Sheikh Yusuf Qattal is yet another great example of Delhi’s rich architectural heritage, waiting to be rediscovered by anyone wishing to invest a little prior research. It’s well worth visiting, and could easily be combined with the magnificent (and hidden) Khirkli Mosque a short distance away.
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