Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Exploring Razia Sultan’s Tomb at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana,Delhi

Exploring Razia Sultan’s Tomb at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana,Delhi
The possible site for the location of the tomb of the only female Sultan of Delhi - Jalalat-al-din Razia has been a topic of immense debate and controversy. Since I have already dealt with the history of Razia in the previous article, I will not repeat it here. Nor will it be fair to deal with the controversy without exploring the other two sites. So, let us now deal with the topic of how the Tomb of Razia in Delhi looks like.
The sign-board at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana leading to Razia's Tomb

            The Tomb of Shams-al-din Iltutmish’s daughter, Jalalat-al-din Razia [1236/37 - 1240 (popularly known as Razia Sultan) is located within the congested settlement of Mohalla Bulbuli Khana, near the Turkman Gate at Delhi. This is a site not known to the majority of the people. People mostly know Turkman Gate and its environs as the site for evening bazaars. Little do they know of the rich treasure it holds ! The best way to reach Razia’s tomb is to take a public conveyance to Turkman Gate and from there, one can take rickshaws to Mohalla Bulbi Khana. Once one reaches Mohalla Bulbuli Khana, one has to consult local people to pass the narrow bylanes to reach Razia’s Tomb.
On the entrance to the tomb, one will notice an iron gate and on travelling a little further, the Archaeological Survey of India Plaque, which reads :
            “ Earlier known as Rani Saji Ki Dargah, this enclosure houses the grave said to be of Sultan Raziya who succeeded her father Sultan Iltutmish. She was able and valiant and was in authority in 1236-40 A.D. during which she faced much opposition from her nobles. She died fighting on the 14th October 1240 A.D. in Kaithal in Karnal district in the course of a rebellion spearheaded by her own brother Muizuddin Bahram Shah who succeeded her as Sultan.
          Of unpretentious architecture the enclosure preserves on a central platform, two graves of which the identity of the second is not known. Towards the South-Eastern corner are two unknown graves. There is a mihrab on the western wall of the undomed mausoleum.” 
The tombs as shown in TV serials
The two major tombs [actual condition]

            As far as the identity of the second major tomb is concerned, the caretaker told me that it could be either of Razia’s  Amir-i-akhur (superintendent of the royal stables) – Jamal-al-din Yakut, the only person faithful to Razia in her last few days, as history tells us. But Yakut had died long before Razia. So the tomb may not be of his. It could also be the tomb of Shazia Begum, Razia’s sister. Some people say, that Shazia was married to Malik-i-Kabir Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin, a powerful noble under Razia. Others say, Shazia was not married to Aitigin, but stayed and died along with Razia. I believe that even if Shazia was there in the durbar, she must have stayed behind the purdah.
            Another theory says that the other Tomb, may belong to a noble of Razia, Malik Ikhtiyaruddin Mirza Altunia. After his initial proposals of marriage to Razia, which were turned down by her, as her empire and people were her first priority, Altunia conspired with Aitgin and Ghiyasuddin Balban, and after hearing rumours about Razia’s intimacy with Yakut, rebelled, imprisoned Razia and made his followers kill Yakut. After this, on the basis of a compromise, agreed upon by both of them, they entered into a matrimonial alliance and then marched onto Delhi. They were overpowered either by local Hindu dacoits or by people sent by Bahram Shah, who was then proclaimed the Sultan. Razia, some say died fighting valiantly on the battlefield, until struck by an arrow. Others say, that after her flight, killed, according to Ibn Battuta by a farmer, who then went to sell her jewellery and clothes, but was caught. Razia died on the 24th of Rabi-ul-Awwal (October 13, 1240) in Kaithal (current day, Haryana). So, as evidence stands, the second tomb could most likely belong either to Shazia or Altunia.
The Tomb of Razia Sultan at Delhi is the only one of the three (two others are located at Kaithal, Haryana and Tonk, Rajasthan) to be undertaken and maintained by the  A.S.I. However, being the tomb of the first female Sultan of Delhi, the complex needs much better care. The biggest problem with Medieval Indian monuments is that modern settlements have grown around them, blurring their presence, and making it difficult both for Historians and for ordinary tourists to locate them and indulge themselves about their rich cultural heritage. So the next time you’re in Delhi, please do find out some time and pay a visit to the Tomb of India’s only female ruler in her own right – Jalalat-al-din Razia !
A Little about Turkman Gate
            The major landmark which will lead one to Razia’s Tomb at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana, Delhi, is the Turkman Gate. The A.S.I Plaque at the gate reads,
The Turkman Gate

            “ The Turkman Gate is one of the four surviving gateways of Shahjahanabad located on the south-western side. The gate constructed in 1658 A.D. is named after Shah Turkman who is buried nearby. The gateway is two bay deep with a flat roof on the first bay and a domed roof on the second bay. On the either side of the second bay, there is a recessed alcove, as large as a room. The gateway has octagonal bastions on the east and the west side is decorated with battlements at the parapet level and medallions on the either side of the arched openings. The north and south facades of the gateway  has a combination of ashlar blocks of red and white sandstone.”
On the information board
While the internet tells us, “Turkman Gate, located to the southern edge of Shahajahanabad (Coordinates: 28.642231N 77.232591E), is named after the Sufi Saint Hazrat Shah Turkman Bayabani. His tomb dated to 1240, before building of Shahjahanabad, is located to the east of the gate. It is approached from the Jawahar Lal Nehru Road, the old Circular Road, in the vicinity of the Ramlila grounds. It has a square plan with high arched openings. The tomb of Razia Sultan and Kali Masjid or Kalan Masjid are located in close proximity of the gate. The gate was the scene of Turkman gate demolition and rioting in 1976."

1 comment:


    My visit to Razia's grave.