When Muhammad, the son of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, died, he left behind an inconsolable father, a bloodied battlefield & fallen heroes. The Mongols he fought against retreated to their mountainous domains in the face of the stiff resistance Muhammad’s army offered, the country was safe from the marauding plunderers & the blood-thirsty enemy soldiers. Muhammad was given the sobriquet of “Khan Shahid” – the martyred prince. His grief-stricken father’s health deteriorated rapidly – he was heart-broken & pined for his son. Soon Balban too was on his deathbed. His grip on mortal affairs loosening rapidly – Balban’s last order was for the commissioning of a magnificent tomb complex for his slain son.
|Khan Shahid's Tomb|
The octagonal tomb was to lie in a small garden. High walls were to surround the garden & stairs led to the entrance set in the wall. An artificial waterfall was created underneath the entrance, canals were laid to cool the area.
Today the tomb exists in the midst of a litter of other tombs & mosques, no different from any other. The waterfall is defunct, the canals dry & filled with dry leaves & rubbish left behind by the visitors. Grass & weeds have overtaken the garden as well as the walkways. The tomb itself stands ruined, most of its walls have fallen, the remaining show signs of decay & are covered with lichenous vegetation. The medallions that decorated the walls, though still displaying signs of their once stunning beauty, have lost their graceful patterns & are almost lost. A dome perhaps once surmounted the tomb, but it is inexistent now.
Interestingly there is no sarcophagus within the tomb itself. A few graves are present in the surrounding garden but none of them belongs to Muhammad. Soon after his death, his father too passed away – the man so feared by his enemies had a tender heart after all. A massive tomb complex was built nearby to lay Balban to eternal rest & it was decided that Muhammad should also be interred with his loving father. An adjoining chamber was added to Balban’s tomb & therein was established Muhammad’s grave – built of stone & inscribed with Persian calligraphy. Even though Balban’s tomb itself lies in ruins today & his grave could not survive the wrath of time, Muhammad’s grave still exists, & that too almost in its original pristine condition.
|Shahid's grave, within Balban's Tomb complex|
Location: Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Open: All days, Sunrise to Sunset
Nearest Metro Station: Saket Station
Entrance Fee: Nil
Photography/Video charges: Nil
How to Reach: After getting down at Saket Station, one can walk to Lado Serai Bus Stop. Buses are available from different parts of the city for Mehrauli & one can alight from the bus at Lado Serai stop itself. The Lado Serai stop is situated at a crossroad & at one side, one can see a large domed-structure seated on a high hill (Azim Khan’s Tomb) rising high behind the trees & the traffic. Walking towards this structure, one comes to a recreational park called Ahinsa Sthal (“Abode of Non-Violence”), marked with a large signboard (or simply ask for Ahinsa Sthal from the locals & shopkeepers, check if they are aware of its location - they weren’t when I visited the area in December 2012). The unmarked entrance to Mehrauli Archaeological Park is through an iron gate opposite the Ahinsa Sthal.
Time required for sightseeing: About 30 min
Note – There are no facilities (toilets, food & drinking water) available within the Archaeological Park. While you can avail food & refreshments at one of the restaurants at Lado Serai, you can only find toilets at the shopping malls close to Saket Metro Station, almost a kilometre away.
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