ONE DAY TRIP TO HAUZ KHASH I: EXPLORING FORGOTTEN HERITAGE OF MUSLIM DYNASTY
I live in South Delhi, very close to Hauz Khash a perfect place for a weekend picnic trip with a family member or loved ones. Though I live very close by, I never got a chance to visit Hauz Khash. I got this opportunity last month when my childhood friend Khusdil Abhiram contacted me via Facebook and stated that he will be visiting Delhi for his personal work. On hearing of his travel plan, I was very delighted. My friend was coming to Delhi for the very first time. He was also interested in seeing the historical aspects of the city. Hauz Khas was very much on my list to visit for a long time. I thought this is the very moment to visit this place. I planned my travel to visit Hauz Khas and nearby area to see the Muslim Empire’s forts, which now have been transformed into a ruin. In one day program to roam Hauz Khash includes- Chor Minar, Edgah, Dadi-Poti Tomb, Barah Khamba, Sakri Gumti, Chhoti Gumti, Jagannath Temple, Dear Park & Hauz – I – Alai which covering historical period from Khaljito Lodhi dynasty (1206 – 1526).
|Direction map- Source “Google” |
Hauz Khash is known as the New York of Delhi. It is situated in South-East of Delhi. It includes Hauz Khash Village & Hauz Khash Enclave. In the historic period, it was known by Hauz – I – Alai. After that, it was named on ancient water reservoir- Hauz Khash. Hauz, a Farsi word meaning “water tank” and Khash means “Royal”, depicting the name after a royal tank, built by Alauddin Khalji, meant for an inhabitant of Siri fort.HISTORICAL ASPECTS:
I am always fascinated by the history of the archaeological sites. Visiting these sites feels like they want to tell me their story. One could just imagine the richness of these sites; they have seen fall and rise of several dynasties, and these monuments are still raising high against all odds. I am also always fascinated by the richness of these sites.
My special interest has been to understand the present nature of spirituality, art, culture and their belief among common people. The roots of the present are always connected with our past history. Mostly all historical sites around Delhi are connected to our medieval history. This medieval history of India is a full history of the Muslim Dynasty. It includes three phases –
1) Delhi Sultan (1206- 1526)
2) Mughal (1526- 1707)
3) Later Mughal (1707- 1857)
The history of these empires had been completed with the rise and fall. They present in the history pages for their expansionist policy and along with aggressiveness for the fulfilment of their empires. Art and culture that was developed during their rule in India, had much impact and influence by Afghan & Iranian art which results in Indo- Islamic architecture. Ruins of the Muslim fortresses relentlessly reveal the history of their time. In which some are popular and many others are not popular, even people of Delhi do not know, but in the historical saga, it all works as an important link, without it, is difficult to understand the entire history of the Muslim Empires.
|Unidentified graves inside Dadi’ Tomb |
We are seeing each other after 20 years; it is indeed after a long time. I went to receive him at Delhi railway station, seeing him boarding out from Patna-Rajdhani express tears rolled out of my eyes. These tears are tears of joy. We hugged each other and try to make our conservation. There was a lot to discuss and discover about each other. It was very early Friday morning, and he travelled overnight to reach Delhi. We decided that probably it is better if he goes to his hotel and takes rest and gives priority to finish his personal work. Later tomorrow at early morning, he should visit my flat. I dropped him at his hotel Indus Biznotel, Greater Kailash, South Delhi and then heads to my house.
It was a wonderful Saturday morning. I had an official day off, so I also took a morning nap at my flat. Later I was wakened up during breakfast by a sound of the doorbell. And to me, not a surprise to see my friend Khusdil Abhiram at the door. We hugged each other and welcome him to my flat. He had tea and snacks over our chat. There was a lot to talk about; somehow, we lost the sense of time. It was already 09. AM hrs. To be frank, Hauz Khash is very well connected by the public Delhi Metro transport so that could be also very good alternatives to see Hauz Khash. Also, it would have been environmental.
In the morning, traffic on Delhi Road seems too less congested due to most of the corporate offices were closed; we decided to use my motorbike for our transportation to visit these places. My bike was waiting for running, the weather was very pleasant, and the sky was surrounded by black clouds, giving a perfect setting for us to venture out to visit the places which we already agreed to see. On our list first was Hauz Khash Chor Minar & Edgah which is very near to Hauz Khas metro station. Here, this is my travelogue on Hauz Khash historical sites a perfect trip for the weekend. If you want to see a photo collection of this blogpost, please go through this link- Photo Gallery- Hauz Khash Village
Side view of Chor Minar
We easily reached our first stop at the Chor Minar historical site within 20 minutes. It is situated in a posh area at Hauz Khash Enclave.As soon as we reached this tower’s premises and we had a surprise to see the surrounding greenery around this horrible minar. I call this minar as horrible due to its horrible story.
This is also famous for “Tower of Thieves” or “Tower of beheading.” It was built in the 13th century by Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) to deter the practice of theft & rebel in his empire. He was the second Sultan of the Khalji dynasty. Prior, he was the governor of Kara near Allahabad. Due to his ambitious nature, he killed his uncle, Delhi’s first Khalji Sultan Jalal Uddin Khalji in 1296. When it was built, it had 225 holes. The main purpose of this tower was to display the severed heads of thieves and Mongol people from present Mangolpuri. Today this structure still stands tall and intact. Entrance to the staircase of this minaret is closed for common public, but one can see the structure from outside. The holes which used to display the severed heads are still prominently sticking out from the minaret. And even today, one could feel creepy vibes by seeing this tower.
When I was travelling around this minaret, I felt the chill of fear running through my veins. I feel that I could still hear the voices of thieves, defeated chiefs/soldiers and the common man who was executed here. This minaret is the gallant impression of the brutality of the Alauddin Khalji. Probably, we all know the epic war between the King Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khalji, a war which was fought by Alauddin for his lust for the Rani Padmini, wife of Ratan Singh. Upon the defeat of Ratan Singh, Rani Padmini performed Jauhar (Sati) along with other female courtesans of the fort of Chittor.
My friend said, now we should see the beauty of Edgah. I replied with smiles, yes. Once the reached out of the tower gate, I looked back to saw once again the Chor Minar and said, “How horrible you are really”. After that, I moved quickly towards Edgah location.
This is 2 minutes walking distance from the Chor Minar, situated near to north direction in the middle of Padmini Enclave. It seemed very beautiful from the entrance due to lush greenery around Edgah. It was quite relaxing to see the beauty of Edgah and its surrounding.
Abhiram also said, “What’s the beauty around Edgah,” I smiled and nod my head.
The literal meaning of the Edgah is the place of worship, without an enclosure and wall. The main purpose of Edgah is to offer prayer to Allah in an open place where a large number of people could assemble. This structure was built by Iqbal Khan in 1404-1405 in simple Tughlaqi design. He was also known as Mallu Khan, a warlord of exiled Delhi Sultan Mohammed Bin Tughlaq (1392 – 1412), the last ruler of Tughlaq dynasty. The structure ruin is well preserved today even after 600 years of passage. It is made of rubble wall on the west with a series of eleven minarets (mihrabs or arched), a place for the muezzin. Long thick wall run in a north-south direction and a tall circular bastion stands at both ends of the wall. One pulpit is present next to the central mihrab of the wall for delivering a message to a people. The serenity of space around Edgah brings peace and calmness in our heart and mind.
Address to reach Chor Minar & Edgah:
Chor Minar Road, Block L & S, Padmini Enclave, Hauz Khash, South Delhi-16.
Time- It is open for 24 x 7 days and closed at 7 PM every day.
Nearest Metro- Hauz Khash Metro station which is 5 minutes walking distance. It can be easily reached from Delhi Airport, New Delhi Railway station and ISBT Delhi bus stand.
Parking place: Near to Chor Minar & Edgah sites.
|Front view of Dadi-Poti Tomb |
Time crossed to 11 AM, both of us agreed that we should go now for our next destination- Dadi- Poti’s Tomb. We took tea and snacks that were brought with us and got fresh. Due to cloudy weather, cold air was blowing which was making our memorable journey even more enjoyable and fun. We soon arrived on the Aurobindo road. On the opposite side of the Aurobindo road, there was the board of Jagannath Temple which goes straight towards the west-Hauz Khash Dear Park. This was a 15-minute route by bike from Edgah to Aurobindo Market. I parked my bike near to Aurobindo market; the tomb was in the opposite hand. We walked and reached within three minutes.
Dadi-Poti tomb is fenced by the wall. The lawn next to the tomb is well maintained, but the menace of stray dogs is easily seen. One needs to be careful, not to indulge with them. It is not forbidden to sit on the grass. Few couples were having a picnic on the lawn. The inside look was very pleasant, but the notice board was in very bad condition due to this, the Tomb’s detail was not being read correctly or properly. The Tomb which is in front of the gate is the grandmother’s tomb, and the granddaughter’s on her left side. As the name of these tombs’ states, pair of tombs are resembled by Biwi (mistress) & Bandi (maid-servant) and also known by Dadi (Grand-mother) tomb & Poti (Grand-daughter) tomb. The Poti tomb is smaller (11.8 m X 11.8 m) than Dadi tomb (15.86 m X 15.86 m). Both are built from the rubble and plastered on the elevated ground.
|Side view of Dadi-Poti Tomb |
Both tombs have a square base with walls rise to octagonal and eventually evolve to hexagonal facades with semi hemispherical dome on top. Interior of the tombs have a high ceiling with Quranic inscriptions on wall and ceiling. Though these two tombs seem to be associated with each other but in an actual sense both are related to two different dynasty periods, Poti tomb is from the Tughlaq era and Dadi tomb is from Lodhi era.
The Poti tomb has a distinct lampshade on the top and its wall are slightly slopping. Unlike other tombs, the entrance of this tomb is in the south and other two, north & south gates are closed and there are three unidentified graves. On another hand, the round spacious interior of Dadi tomb has six unidentified cenotaphs of a person with nobility origin. Dadi’ tomb looks two-story structures from outsides due to its arched and window design. Condition of both tombs is in depleted conditions. Plasters from walls are coming off. I wish the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will take better care of these valuable moments.
The next structure in our list was Barah Khamba. It is just 5 minutes walking distance from the Dadi Poti tomb. In fact, the dome of Barah khamba is visible from the Dadi-Poti tomb. I parked my bike near to entrance gate of Barah Khamba.
|Front view of Barah Khamba |
We had entered the entrance gate; one guard was on the bench at the corner of one side near to notice board. The inside view was very nice. There was plenty of greenery around the tomb which shows the ancient beauty of this tomb. This is from the Lodhi Period (1451 – 1526) and the grandeur of a tomb indicates that it might be of a high nobleman. Delhi has more than 1,000 tombs, Forts, Havelis, Baolis and Darwazas; and Barah Khamba is very distinct from all those. Due to its twelve pillars, this tomb has probably been given the name Barah Khamba. It has twelve pillars and three arched openings on each face and one dome present at the top. Islamic architecture has mystical significance for number seven and twelve. The number twelve is scared in Islam, representing twelve Imams succeeding Prophet Muhammad. This number twelve is also associated with twelve zodiac signs. As per information on the notice board, there were several cenotaphs inside this structure but now have not seen. Inside of this tomb was decorated with various niches.
Outside this Tomb, there are some graves at the west side of the entrance and one dry well is seen. One bastion like structure is present at the left side in the North direction. All these outsides structure are mysterious due to the unknown reason behind these structures. At the east direction, there are many graves appeared between green grasses.
|Side view of Barah Khamba |
It is very sad to see such an important architecture in a depleted condition. We Indians have a long issue with betel leaf. The spit of betel leaves is seen on walls. Even plasters from the walls are falling apart. There is a notification from the ASI for future renovation of the building.
Khusdil was getting tired of seeing of all these tombs. Probably for him falling in preserving of these architectures was disheartening or repeating of Lodhi and Tughlaq architecture was too much. But for me, these moments are like a book. It feels like they are telling me some story; I could depict the moments lived by these monuments and want to see more. I knew that Jagannath temple was very nearby and there Prasad of Lord Jagannath will offer in 45 minutes. I suggested Khusdil; let’s start walking towards Jagannath temple. We will rest near the temple. On our way to the temple, we had seen two more ruins. My greediness to see more and more bring me to the next architecture structure: Sakri Gumti and Chhoti Gumti.
SAKRI GUMTI & CHHOTI GUMTI:
There are lots of historical sites, who have known about their time, but their actual history has lost in the absence of literary evidence to the tune of time. Both Gumti is one of them. Due to its dome & arches structures present on the top of these Gumti these two structures were built during the Lodhi Period, in between 14th and 15th century. Probably the both Gumti are of 8 m X 8 m. Both structures are surrounded by lush green lawn much better maintained than Dadi-Poti tomb.
Sakri Gumti is not a tomb; there are no graves inside this Gumti. From outside, it looks more like a narrow gate. It was built from the rubble without plaster; probably it may be used as a gateway. Its wall is taller than its width. At the east direction, there is one broken wall but for which purpose it is still not clear.
|Front view of Chhoti Gumti |
On the other hand, Chhoti Gumti is one of the smallest structures in the nearby area and hence called Chhoti Gumti. There is a grave of an unknown person inside. The plastered exterior is decorated with arches and the interior has a medallion on the ceiling. It has a small domed structure with low in respect of other Lodhi period’ monuments. It was built from the rubble and then plastered. This Gumti has three entrances from east, north and south direction. In the west direction, the wall is decorated with mihrab probably for the purpose of prayer.
I felt that ASI is trying to maintain the balance between modern urban Delhi and ancient Delhi. It is evident from the rising of unplanned or planned housing structures in Hauz Khash. Also, most of the structures are in depleted conditions. Though ASI regulation prohibits any constructions within 100 meters of ASI protected structures, it is hardly followed. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of several dynasties and it has preserved all history, but we humans are destroying it. These structures are our story; we should preserve it for future generations. We should follow cleanliness drive “Swach Bharat” and shouldn’t litter around these structures. We should respect and preserve our historical treasure.
Address to reach Dadi-Poti’s Tomb, Barah Khamba, Sakri Gumti & Chhoti Gumti:
Sri Aurobindo Marg, Block L, Green Park, New Delhi- 110016
Time- It is open for 24 x 7 days Open at 5 AM & Closed at 7 PM every day. Nearest Metro- Hauz Khash & Green Park Metro station. Both metro stations are connected with all Delhi reaching point (Delhi Airport, New Delhi Railway station & all Delhi bus stand)
Parking place: Aurobindo market
|Side view of Jagannath Temple |
JAGANNATH TEMPLE :
With the small hope, I start my bike towards the famous Jagannath temple which is near to Chhoti Gumti and 5 minutes of walking distance. It’s already 12:30 PM, Prasad offering would be starting soon. Khusdil told me, let’s hurry up. We must attend the prasad offering. The Temple, a white masonic structure is located on the Bhagwan Jagannath marg (Road). This temple is on the way to Deer Park from Chhoti Gumti. Within a minute, we reached the temple and parked my bike at the parking lot in front of the temple. We put our shoe in the deposit counter then sanctified. Buying worship materials, climbing the stairs and finally entered the temple premises. The scenery of the temple complex was very charming and peaceful. There was not much crowd but some people were roaming around the temple complex and some people were sitting in the temple premises. At first, we both worshipped the God- Krishna, Balram & Subhadra in the temple. Then, roaming around the temple and enjoying the beauty of the temple complex. For a while, we have experienced spiritual joy and peace by sitting in the temple premises.
Jagannath means “Lord of Universe” who is one of the three major Hindu Gods. Origin of this temple is rooted in Mahabharata and Puran, so it is a famous temple among Hindu devotees and this is considered one of the Char-Dham Pilgrimages. It is located in Puri district of Odisha state. This temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra or Chariot festival at Puri and devoted to Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra. Many great Hindu saints are associated with this temple such as- Ramananda, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srimad Vallabhacharya, etc.
In the sacred chamber, three deities Krishna/Jagannath, Balram and Subhadra, a mythological a character from a Mahabharat epic are worshipped in Jagannath temple. These deities are made of scared wood which is taken from the “Neem Tree” (Melia Azadirachta Indica / Margosa wood). Subhadra is in the centre with Krishna is in right of her and Balbhadra is on the left of her. Subhadhra is the smallest of two and shown in yellow while Bhalbhadra is depicted in white and Krishna in black. The deities of Jagannath is also signified Trimurti. According to some scholars, Goddess Mangla is introduced as Subhadra, sister of Jagannath. God Shiva is also known as Virabhadra and with the rise of Vaishnavism, he was introduced as Balbhadra, an elder brother of Jagannath.
|Trimurti in Hauz Khash Jagannath Temple |Hauz Khash temple is a replica of Jagannath temple, Puri. It is made up of white stone in Kalinga Buddhist Architect style. It is the best place for regular religious / family hangout. The Orissa Art and Cultural Society, Delhi organized Rathyatra on similar fashion as it is organized in Puri. This temple is the main attraction point for the Oriya community, but anybody can visit this temple. In this serene shrine temple, you feel peace and cosmos energy here. Temple has own guest house, which could be booked for overnight stay. Also, one could arrange weddings and other ceremonies in the temple. It also serves prasad (Lunch) every day at noon by till 2:30 PM and at evening on the donation of Rs. 75/- which is a very reasonable price. This Prasad is pure vegetarian spiritual food which offered to Lord Jagannath. If you want to take Odisha cusine test, then try this delicious prasad.
After spending some time on the premises, we both came to the ground floor, I took two donation coupons in 150/and sat on the ground in the queue with other devotees. Prasad was given to all of us soon. In Prasad offering, there are three types of vegetables, lentil, rice, pickle, green chillies, kheer, and a dessert included. After the lunch, Khusdil said that this pious offering (Prasad) was much better than the hotel’s lunch. I only smiled and shook my head. We have rested there for half an hour, during this period; we had refreshed the memories of our childhood.
Address to reach Jagannath Temple:
Sree Neelachala Seva Sangha, Block-C, SDA, Hauz Khas Village Road, Bhagwan Jagannath Marg, New Delhi – 110016.Time- It is open for 24 x 7 days,
In Summar- 5 AM – 12:30 PM & 4 PM – 11 PM
In Winter- 6 AM – 12:30 PM & 4 PM – 09 PM
Nearest Metro- Hauz Khash & Green Park Metro station can be easily reached from Delhi Airport, New Delhi Railway station and ISBT Delhi bus stand.
Parking place: Jagannath Temple
This trip of Hauz Khas was memorable and worthwhile. It is a perfect place for kids and family for spending a memorable time. Do not forget to carry your camera and capture special moments. My wristwatch shown 2 PM, Khusdil said with full enthusiasm that now we should go towards our next destination to explore- Hauz Khash Dear Park…..
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