Romance Delhi in rains, far away from the madding crowds
Denizens wanting to venture out, to relax and yet stay safe, can give the crowded markets and malls a miss by heading to some lesser known historical monuments in the city. Explore the historical richness of places such as Pir Ghaib, Adham Khan’s Tomb, Isa Khan’s Tomb, Adilabad Fort and Feroz Shah Kotla Fort.
Monsoon is knocking at the doors of Delhi, finally! Wondering how to venture out to unwind and yet stay safe by ditching the crowded spots such as markets and malls? We suggest some lesser known historical monuments that provide the perfect serenity to soak in, as you recuperate from the second wave and try to keep anxiety at bay by being under the open sky.
Pir Ghaib — the missing saint
Situated right behind the Hindu Rao hospital premises is the Pir Ghaib structure and baoli. The baoli today has little water and a tunnel that was present in the area is no longer accessible.
For those visiting, Joydeep Dey, from Dastan Stories to Tell, who conducts walks to heritage places, says, “The name literally means a saint who went missing. The legend of it being named Pir is because some say during medieval times it was the abode of a fakir. The other story goes that the place was a shikargah (hunting lodge) of Feroz Shah Tughlaq. It has two storeys and people say it was also used as an observatory, for some of its remains can be seen. During 1857, it was the only source of water for the British soldiers, hence in fear that the mutineers may poison it, they had a guard who’d look after the structure.”
Where: Hindu Rao Hospital Complex, Civil Lines
Adham Khan and a filmi link
The tomb of Adham Khan — son of Mughal emperor Akbar’s wet nurse Maham Anga — was built after Khan was executed for a murder. Visitors may remember Khan’s character from the movie Jodhaa Akbar (2008). But the place, popular for the expansive view of Mehrauli and the Qutub Minar, is not remembered for Khan. Ramit Mitra, from DelhiByFoot Adventures, says, “Such is the tale of time, if you ask a person in Mehrauli where this tomb is, they wouldn’t know. But mention ‘bhool bhulaiya of Mehrauli’ and they will immediately point it out to you! The tomb, like most Mughal-era tombs, was raised on a platform and the space beneath it had chambers, leading from one to another. In the long passage of history, people got lost after entering those chambers or felt scared, as they grew bat and bird infested. And soon locals started calling it the ‘bhool bhulaiya’ or the labyrinth.”
Where: Seth Sarai, Mehrauli
Isa Khan and his tomb
Dedicated to Isa Khan Niyazi, a minister of Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century, the mausoleum will delight history buffs. “Isa Khan’s tomb is the most exquisite of the early tombs in the city. Built of red sandstone, it has beautiful tile, plaster and stone work. There is calligraphy on the structure which speaks of Isa Khan, and the ceiling is magnificent,” says Ratish Nanda, from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Abu Sufiyan, from Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein, a cultural platform, adds, “Whenever I am in this place, I can easily imagine how splendid it would have been. The tiles even today tell of the grandeur of that time. The best part is, though it is situated inside the Humayun’s tomb complex, it is relatively desolate and allows the peace and quiet people would be seeking today.”
Where: Humayun’s Tomb Complex, Nizamuddin East
For a romantic sunset at Adilabad Fort
Managing to remain elusive for years with very little footfall, Adilabad Fort, built by Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq, is one of the few structures remaining of Tughlaq-era architecture. Lack of proper signage and access has kept this monument away from the limelight but it is the perfect place for a quiet evening for a view of the sunset.
“Adilabad Fort regained its charm when the ASI repaired it around 2010-11. Inside the small fortress the ASI’s horticulture division has laid out lawns and gardens with extensive flower beds etc. It is an interesting place to view its gargantuan neighbour, the fort-city of Tughlaqabad. One of the prime reasons we still take people for a visit to the fort,” says Mitra.
Where: Tughlakabad Institutional Area
Djinns, fairies and Feroz Shah Kotla fort
Situated between the old and new cities of Delhi, Feroz Shah Kotla fort was constructed by Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq, as part of his capital Firozabad. But what makes this fort a must visit is the fact that people believe it is home to supernatural forces! “It is one of the few places where one can find calm in the chaos of Delhi. Many believers come here to write letters to djinns and fairies and unburden their hearts, believing their problems will be solved,” says Asif Khan Dehlvi, of Delhi Karavan.
And the Ashoka pillar inside the fort forms a unique link between the Mauryan Empire of 3rd century BC, and the Delhi Sultanate of the 14th century AD. The pillar, one of the many set up by Mauryan emperor Ashoka across his realm, was found in Ambala and brought to Delhi by Tughlaq and set up in the fort. “All tourists we take to the fort, talk about the serenity of spending the evenings, watching the sun go down on the Capital and being enriched by the history that has stood the test of time,” adds Dehlvi.
Where: Balmiki Basti, Vikram Nagar
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika