Tughlaq Forts – Places to visit in Delhi
The two Tughlaq forts stand opposite each other Tughlaqabad Fort & Adilabad Fort. Divided by a road and almost no time, built by father-son duo, none of whom lived in these forts as far as we know. Each fort can be best viewed from the parapets of the other fort. As if they were keeping an eye on each other. In between them, lies the graves of both father and son along with the women who bound them together. Not much is known or said about these forts. But what makes these forts interesting is the stories that have lived in the memory of the people. These forts are contemporary to the most popular saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Tughlaqabad Fort – Historical Places in Delhi
Tughlaqabad fort can be called the fastest constructed fort, constructed in about 2 years. That too in a mode where different commanders of the Sultan built various parts of the fort. And the joints to these parts were the city gates. The founder of Tughlaq dynasty Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq built this third city of Delhi. After Lal Kot and Siri, in the early 14th century. Spread over more than 6 km’s, it has two walls – an outer and an inner wall, many step wells and a palace area.
As you climb the fort now, all you can see is total ruins. Showing the broken bare walls, walkways, bastions, courtyards, rooms and multiple layers of the various structures. There are certain parts that carry a distinct Mughal era stamp on them but the walls are definitely prior to that. Some ends of the fort are still inhabited by people, but most of the fort lies barren. You may find a few young couples here and there otherwise, it can be scary to be alone there.
I could see a very deep square step well inside. There were probably rooms below the thick outer wall. You could walk on the top of these rooms and have a look outside the fort. There are parapets here and there on the walls while most of them are gone. There are bastions that probably belong to an inner wall which is not solid but have some structures built in them. The stairs take you to various levels of the fort. From the back wall of the fort, you can see the landmarks of south Delhi like Lotus temple and tall buildings of Okhla and Nehru place.
On one side a narrow passage below the surface level with spacious rooms on both sides would intrigue you. You can walk past the passage to reach a part of the front wall and would wonder what these rooms could be. It could have been a jail, but the rooms look too big for that. It could have been living quarters for the summer season when you need to keep yourself cool. From different points in the fort, the picture of the fort looks entirely different. From the front wall parapet, you can get a bird’s eye view of the tomb and the Adilabad fort across the road.
Legend is that when Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq wanted to build this fort, he asked all the labor in the city to come and work on the building of the fort. At the same time, Sufi saint Nizamuddin was building a Baoli (step well) in a village a few miles away. Which was ironically called Ghiyaspur then and would be later known as Nizamuddin? The Sultan being a Sultan, forced the labor to work at the fort. But the labor was more inclined to work for the saint, so they would work during the day at the fort and at night for the Baoli.
This was also eventually stopped by the Sultan and this is when the saint got angry. And said that the fort will either not be inhabited or only Gujjars (the local tribals) will live here. Incidentally, it looks like the saint’s words did come true and the fort was not inhabited by the sultan and his men. And until some time back Gujjars were living inside the fort. Another legend says that when Tughlaq was serving the earlier Sultan of the Khilji clan, once he had proposed to build a fort here. And the Sultan sarcastically told him that when you become the Sultan of Delhi, you build a fort. Little realizing that his words would come true.
A narrow causeway connects the fort to its builder’s tomb across the road. The tomb is simple and elegant with fort-like walls. Well maintained with manicured gardens around the building. The building in red with white dome and slanting walls stands tall. There is not much ornamentation on the walls, or inside the white marble dome or on the graves or the mihrab. The two male graves belong to the Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and his son Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. The female grave belongs to the former’s wife and latter’s mother. On one corner of the compound lie the graves of another couple Zafar and his wife. Who was a commander of Tughlaq’s and his grave probably, preceded the now more famous ones?
There are corridors along with arched openings along the boundary wall that has long narrow openings giving a view of both the forts. It seems there are cubicles for the convicts below the ground as at places there are steep staircases going down. There are holes from where the guide told us the food was thrown down for the prisoners. There is a small grave in the corridor that is supposed to be the pet dog of the sultan.
Adilabad Fort, Delhi
Walk or drive across the vast ground to reach the base of Adilabad fort, a little-known fort of Delhi. Climb the flight of stairs and then climb a steep slope to reach the gate of the fort built with beam and lintel. The fort is being restored at the moment and we could see the ongoing work at the front bastion. The fort as it stands now is much smaller than the Tughlaqabad fort. It is said that the plan of this fort was very similar to the other fort. And the two forts were connected by a causeway, though I could not locate this causeway.
A map there shows the layout plan of the fort. From the main gate, you get a panoramic view of the other fort. The lawns have been recently laid and so have been the small plants. Looks like ASI or Delhi Govt have some plans for the fort.
This walk requires good 2-3 hours and involves climbing two forts. Like one of my historian friends said, this is a site that belongs to a single culture. And is not multi-cultural like say Mehrauli or Purana Qila. This is a lesser-known and not so frequently visited part of Delhi. Explore it when you get time.
Recommend you to read the following travel blog on Places to visit in Delhi.