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Archive for the tag “Tughlaq”

Bhuli Bhatiyari ka Mahal

Karol Bagh, the busy market of Delhi, has a hidden secret. The area is identified by Delhi’s new landmark, the huge Hanuman Statue next to Bagga Link Services. Right behind this Bagga Link, a small serpent road goes deep into the Southern Ridge of Delhi. As you advance few hundred meters on this road, a strange structure on your right will cast a spell on you.


This structure is claimed to be the most haunted place in Delhi. There are no metal gates to be locked. The only thing that guards this massive structure is a note written at entrance, which tells people to not to come near this place after sunset.

I had an unofficial chat with one of the govt employees associated with this place. He told me that no security guard deployed by govt survived his job for more than 2-3 days. He added, “I don’t believe in all this, but there is something suspicious & scary here”.


What is Bhooli Bhatiyari?

2Bhooli Bhatiyari (or Bhuli Bhatiyari ka Mahal) is a Hunting Lodge built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 14th century. It has its resemblance with another of Feroz Tughlaq’s structure, ‘Malcha Mahal’. The structure is entered by a huge rubble masonry gate, which takes you to a small zone. Another doorway with corbelled arches welcomes you to the huge open square courtyard. On sides, we have rooms, used by people who stayed here during the hunting season. Towards north, it has a semi-circular structure accessed through a plight of stairs. On one corner, we have a modern toilet, which was built by Delhi Tourism in hope to promote this place. But it lies deserted as no govt guard was able to come near this place. We can imagine, that the hunters back in Tughlaq days could have seen the entire ridge from this mini-fortress.


This structure also has those elements, which are commonly seen in Mosques and Palaces built by Junan Shah Tilangani.

On outside, the Lodge has bastions like a fort. The entire plan of this Lodge appears as if this was a safe house of the Emperor during some calamity.


Why the name “Bhooli Bhatiyari”?

There are two theories behind this title. One theory suggests that this place, after the Tughlaq Dynasty, became abode of a sufi saint named ‘Bu Ali Bakhtiyari’. Bhooli Bhatiyari is simple a distorted form of his name. The other theory suggests that there was a Bhatiyarin (a tribal lady from Rajasthan), who forgot her way and ended up here. After her, the place became famous as ‘Bhooli Bhatiyari’.

Is it Haunted?

Personally, I never had any haunting experience at this place. I have been there alone, with family, friends and with huge groups during Photowalks. But perhaps the scaring spirits in this area don’t like me. The closest we went were when we were doing a Photowalk and 2 of our group members decided to drift away from the group. They went deep into jungle and tried to click a white wall that they saw. When they adjusted their cameras, standing next to the wall, they realized that the wall just vanished. They came back running to me and narrated the story.



If you have experienced anything special here, do share with me.

Tilangani’s 7 Wonders of Delhi

Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah Tilangani, the prime minister of Feroz Shah Tughlaq brought a revolution in the Mosque Architecture of India. His creations were majestic, beautiful and well planned. Last month, I wrote about Jauna Khan, who later became Muhammed Bin Tughlaq and was widely misunderstood. Today I write about another Jauna Khan, whose wonderful contribution is victim of neglect and poor keep.


Who was Tilangani

Gannama Nayaka, aka Yugandhar, the commander of Warangal was converted to Islam in 1323 by Muhammad bin Tughlaq (then Shehzada Jauna Khan) and made governor of Multan after the defeat of King Prataparudra of Kakatiya Dynasty. He was given the name “Malik Maqbul”, and soon became Masnad-i-Aali Ulugh Qutlugh Azam-i-Humayun Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul Tilangani. During the region of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, Malik Maqbul was made the Prime Minister and one of the highest paid ministers of Indian history with a salary of 13 lakh Tankas (silver currency of Tughlaq regime) annually and therefore earned the title of ‘Lakhtankia’. Not only this, he also succeeded in saving his office of Prime Minister for his son Jauna Khan (later known as Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, the hero of our story). Maqbool Tilangani named his son after his first master Junan Shah was creative, but a weak commander. He could not lead armies like his father. So he spent more time in constructing beautiful marvels for his architecture loving master Feroz Shah Tughlaq, which changed the way mosques were built in India. Unfortunately, he could not last long and was soon captured and executed in a conflict for succession. But during his tenure, he succeeded in constructing seven architectural wonders on 14th century Delhi. He built 7 mosques, which broke all the rules of mosque architecture known till then and established a new trend, which later spread to the length and breadth of Sultanate Empire.

NOTE: Some historians claim that these mosques (or some of them) were built by Khan-i-Jahan Maqbool Tilangani (Malik Maqbool), whereas the ASI record correctly identify his son Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah Tilangani to be the architect of these buildings.


The Seven Mosques of Tilangani



Khirki Masjid

Khirki Masjid, Delhi Hidden behind a thin row of small shops right opposite the famous shopping malls of Saket, it’s a 288 feet long and 288 feet wide square-shaped Mosque with 11 feet high basement containing 100 cells. It’s 81 domes stand on 22 feet high 180 columns and 60 pilasters and it has 15 Mihrabs (arches on praying wall). There are three huge gates on north, south and east sides. But what’s most important is that this was the first mostly covered mosque of India. It has four openings in the roof to let sunlight come in. The only fully covered mosque built during that time was that in Gulbarga (Karnataka), which was built few years after completion of Khirki Masjid by a Spanish Architect and is smaller in size. In order to ensure proper ventilation, Junan Shah built red sandstone windows instead of walls, from where the mosque got its name “Khirki” (meaning window).


Begumpur Masjid

Begumpur Mosque, Delhi Unlike Khirki, Begumpur mosque is single storied and is slightly bigger in size (308’ X 289’). It has total 68 domed compartments and a huge open court. The main Pishtaq (central arch), which is the most prominent feature of the building is flanked by sloping buttresses each containing a winding staircase leading to the roof. There is an attached Mallu Khana, which is an independent mosque for ladies and also has a Taikhana. Mallu khana is accessible from a very small opening in North wall, where you have to kneel to get through. I have not seen or heard of any mosque from that era, which contains such a huge and beautifully decorated mosque for women, attached to the main mosque. Mallu Khana is approx 1/4th of the size of Begumpur Masjid and has beautiful Mehrabs and Windows. An entire village was settled in this Mosque at one time. British forced the villagers out, and who established their small houses along the walls of this mosque, but within the Lal Dora.


Jami Masjid

Jami Masjid, DelhiJami Masjid of Kotla Feroz Shah is a combination of both Begumpur and Khirki Masjid. Its uniqueness is the material used, which is local quartzite rubble, externally rendered with limestone, originally of a dazzling whiteness and giving the effect of marble. It contains a huge open courtyard with thick walls with open arches. Lower level of Mosque contains Taikhana with a series of cells, which are now habitat of bats and are illuminated with earthen lamps and incense sticks as locals believe this place to be the abode of Djinns. A very huge circular pit covers most of the courtyard of mosque, which is assumed to be a well (unlikely for any mosque to mark such huge space for ablution zone or wazoo-khana right in the middle of the courtyard). There was a unique octagonal dome over this well supported by 260 pillars of 25 feet in height. Documents suggest that these pillars were removed and used while constructing towers in the wall of Shahjahanabad. Amir Taimur lung (Tamerlane) was so impressed with this grand mosque of Delhi, that after offering his prayers here, he took 200 craftsmen from India to build a similar mosque for him in Samarqand. Few of them were rewarded for their service but many were beheaded for negligence after completion of mosque. This mosque today stands proudly as Bibi Khanum Mosque of Samarkand,Uzbekistan.


Masjid Kalu Sarai

KaluSarai This is another marvel by Junan Shah, but now in ruins. It fell into the hands of locals and in last 2 centuries, pieces of the mosque have been falling down. Only few arches are left and original size or design of this mosque is no longer known. Some historic travellers mention of this mosque as a magnificent piece of architecture. The main building is now consumed by row houses and while walking down the tight lanes, one can see remains of arches and walls. However,  it is assumed that the portion shown in this picture was the original area of mosque.



Kalan Masjid

Kalan-Masjid-Turkman This is the huge active mosque near Turkman Gate of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi). It is a double storied mosque with double-apartments in the basement, which are till date used by locals. This is an active mosque and so badly surrounded by row houses, that the original façade of Mosque is totally hidden. As you can see from this picture, it is half covered and has domes all over it. the green circle on the eastern wall is actually the green dome of projected entrance, which is reached through a flight of stairs. From inside, the mosque is now beautifully plastered and coloured, while the floor is decorated with marble slabs. The exterior however is white washed and thankfully, the mosque management committee is taking good care of the place.


Kali Masjid

Kalan-Masjid-Nizamuddin This mosque from Nizamuddin Basti is an architectural replica of Kalan Masjid of Turkman Gate from outside. From inside, the difference both mosques have is in the partition of courtyard. Turkman Gate Kalan Masjid has half of the courtyard covered, whereas this one has a cross section (as appears in image on left) and has multiple domes over it. The lower right corner (South East) is now covered, which is a modern repair work. Its original name is also Kalan Masjid (huge mosque), but with time, the name got corrupted to Kali Masjid (black mosque). This mosque has multiple entrances and numerous domes but most of them have been repaired beyond recognition by local caretakers. When I went there last, I saw piles of building material as some repair work was going on. Most of the domes of this mosque have collapsed and caretakers have constructed plain roof in place of broken sections.


Masjid Waqya

Waqya Also known as Chausath-khamba Masjid (Mosque of 64 pillars), this mosque is situated on Mirdard Marg near the Maulana Azad Medical College. Its 64 pillars are made of White Sandstone and supports a huge roof over its 64 pillars. This is an active mosque and rarely known to the outside world. As far as size is concerned, this is a much smaller mosque (as compared to other 6 mosques of Tilangani). However, nowhere else he built a proper Chausath-Khamba before this.


It is pity that this marvellous architect was brutally murdered and the revolution he brought to Indo-Islamic architecture had a major setback.

– Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

A Budget disaster, six centuries ago

clip_image002[7]Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, Emperor of Hindostan (India) from February 1325 to March 1351, was a visionary, learned and wise emperor. But he was also lunatic, crazy and cruel. He took some decisions, which he thought are for the betterment for the country, but ended up messing everything and was given a nickname by his own countrymen: “Pagla Sultan” (Crazy Emperor). His decisions were ambitious and attempted with best intentions, but exhibited lack of proper planning and inadequacy of correct information. He was a visionary, who extended his empire to a limit, to which no other Sultan of Delhi did in entire history of Sultanate period. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was a highly qualified person. He was one of those few Islamic/Turkik rulers, who could understand and speak Sanskrit along with Persian, Turkish and Arabic. His interest in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and physical sciences gave him the tag of ‘Scholar’. With the knowledge of medicine he had, he was half a doctor himself. Such a learned person he was, that he thought of far future but failed to handle the present. Policies and Innovations excited him and he was always busy in planning something new for domestic and foreign front. He used his knowledge of languages and philosophy to unite India and to establish embassies in various other countries.

He started the practice of keeping record of income and expenses of all princes. Governors were told to submit periodic account statements of their jurisdiction. It was the earliest form of centrally controlled accounting system that would involve everyone, from the king to peasant. It was considered a useless step at that time but today we know how important national level central accounting system and national budget has become in our lives.

Since Anangpal Tomar stepped in Delhi in 736 AD, around 38 rulers from 6 dynasties ruled from Delhi’s throne. Many of these established cities, forts and villages. To name a few, Tomars built Lal Kot, Mahipal Tuar (Tomar) built Mahipalpur (near airport), Prithvi Raj Chauhan built Qila Rai Pithora, Khilji built Siri and Ghiasuddin Tughlaq built the majestic fort of Tughlaqabad. But Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was a visionary and he realized that the growing population of his capital will require bigger places to live. He did the best part by combining the previously built cities – Rai Pithora, Siri & Tughlaqabad and created ‘Jahanpanah’ (Abode of the world).

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq sent his army to attack Himalayan provinces like Kangra and even the Chinese cities. There was only one flaw in his otherwise flawless military plan: he forgot to account the power of nature and weather of the Himalayas. His bravest men were sacrificed to the cold weather, which they were never prepared for. His military expeditions were affecting the national treasure badly. Tughlaq was then forced to increase taxes. He guessed that the most productive land in his empire is the portion between Ganges and Yamuna (area locally called Doab). He increased the tax to as many as 20 folds in this area, but failed to account that the year he increased the tax was the year of famine. Poor and frustrated people left their homes and become robbers and dacoits. But govt. officials continued to collect tax, which resulted in a major revolt.

Very late, Tughlaq realized his mistake and established a ministry for Agriculture. He instructed his new minister to find more fertile land and lease it out to poor farmers, who will cultivate it for court’s benefit. This policy was even bigger failure and the department was shut within 2-3 years because of high level of corruption amongst the people who were implementing it. They purchased very poor land for cultivation and assigned it to people, who had no interest in cultivating govt. land.

One of Tughlaq’s worst decisions was to shift the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. It is a fort city in Maharashtra, which was earlier known as Deogiri. Circa 1327, Tughlaq forced entire population of Delhi to shift to Daulatabaad. He thought that to unite India, he must be centrally placed. He also wanted to move away from Delhi because it was on direct radar of invaders from Khorasan. The third reason to shift was that he realized that a country as big as Hindostan, needs atleast two capitals. But his men failed to analyze the situation and land properly. The land of Daulatabad and the journey to that land was one of the biggest disasters of the Sultanate period. The city was abandoned within 2 years due to lack of water and adequate cultivable land. Delhi’s population lost everything they had and businesses were shattered. Most of them died during this transition and almost entire cattle fleet of Delhi was finished.


With such disastrous decisions, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq decided to improve his financial status. He needed more money but in order to mint Gold Coins, he needed lot of money, which was already depleting. So he decided to mint coins from Copper and value them equal to Gold. Circa 1329, he released his copper currency from mints of Delhi and Daulatabad. This policy was based on Chinese currency system, where brass and copper coins were used and equivalent gold/silver was kept in treasury. Tughlaq’s two scalable standards were issued, one in North and other in South. In order to impress his citizens he engraved on his Copper coins “He who obeys the Sultan obeys the compassionate”. For a change, citizens were very happy with this move, because this currency was so easy to forge. Illegal mints were established across the city of Delhi and people started minting copper coins and using them as Gold Coins. Within 2-3 years, the treasury was in its worst state ever. Tughlaq ordered immediate recovery of copper coins and in order to ensure that innocent people do not suffer, he decided to reimburse the copper coins with original gold coins. The illegal mints minted their last lot of illegal currency and got it replaced with Gold. The currency mafia in Delhi became millionaire overnight and the royal court was no longer able to support Tughlaq’s ambitious plans. For years, heaps of copper was laying everywhere in courts of Tughlaq.

clip_image010[4]Tughlaq’s gold and silver coins were minted in cities of Delhi, Daulatabad, Lakhnauti (now Lucknow), Salgaun, Sultanpur (now Warangal), Tirhut and couple of other cities. He also changed the weight of Gold Dinar from 172 to 202 grains. His silver coins (Adlis) were not very popular amongst people and lasted only 7 years of circulation. He is known to issue more than 30 varieties of calligraphy rich bullion coins.

Budget has been the most important function of any government. Various policies of government rely on budget but when government plans their budget without accounting all factors, disasters like “Tughlaqi Farmans” happen.

Note: The pictures were taken from Google. My credits to people who have clicked them. Unfortunately, I do not know who did this exercise with the camera. Please let me know if you own the pic, so I can give you due credit.

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