06 February 2013

Khan Shahid's Tomb, New Delhi


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.

The entrance to Shahid's Tomb


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.


Ruined!!


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.
Relevant Links -

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this story, i have been following your blogs regularly. Keep going..

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    1. Rakesh welcome to my blog.. It is always nice to know that people like my writings. Thanks for stopping by!! Keep in touch.

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  2. gud job..as olways...!!!!

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  3. AnonymousMay 16, 2013

    Hi Sahil,

    I am confused. Is this Maulana Majduddin's Tomb or Khan Shahid's Tomb. This is as per Lucy Peck's book.

    Even she is not sure if the grave is of Khan Shahid's. Then where is Balban's grave?! Even the sign markers in Mehrauli Archeological Park are not sure which one is Khan Shahid's tomb.

    Great writing as usual.

    Nirdesh Singh

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  4. Hey Nirdesh,

    I am yet to get a copy of Lucy's book, I tend to sit on stories about the different monuments that I get from various sources (heritage clubs, articles, history books, INTACH/IHC booklets) & visit an area when I possess info about a number of monuments there so that I can cover several at the same time. Being a student does bring some austerity with it when travelling :)

    It is not known if this is actually Khan Shahid's Tomb, though Vikramjit Rooprai of DHPC agrees with my assessment. It is either this or the rectangular canopy just outside this small tomb along one of its walls. The latter would be highly improbable since it is almost over-shadowed by this complex & then Balban would never have built such a small & meager tomb for his most beloved son.
    Interestingly INTACH, responsible for upkeep of the Archaeological Complex, simply marks the above-mentioned tomb as "Enclosed Tomb", while no signage is accorded to the adjacent canopy. No grave can be seen under the canopy or in the domed chamber of this tomb (dome now gone), although a single crumbling grave rests within the tomb in a corner.

    Balban's Tomb is located opposite Jamali-Kamali Complex, beyond the settlement ruins. You can read about them both here -

    1) http://pixels-memories.blogspot.in/2012/12/balbans-tomb-new-delhi.html

    2) http://pixels-memories.blogspot.in/2013/01/ruins-mehrauli-archaeological-park-new.html

    A straight path leads to Balban's Tomb directly from Shahid's Tomb. They are separated by a couple of hundred meters. Alternately, you can access Balban's Tomb from Jamali-Kamali like I did, but you will have to walk over debris & jump down a few small staircases heavily infested with large ants.

    Do let me know about the monuments you covered in the complex. I have been there twice, but still need to go at least 2-3 times to have photographed every monument in there!!

    Hope to listen from you soon!!

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  5. AnonymousMay 17, 2013

    Hi Sahil,

    I have been to the Meharauli Archeological Park twice now. This includes the Madhi Mosque, Bagichi Masjid (they dont like photographers there) and Jain Mandir. At least from Lucy Peck's book, i have covered most of the places including Chauburja, Metcalf's Boat house and remains of Lal Kot walls. We had gone again last Sunday to photograh Jamali's tomb which is supposed to be locked but there is a way around it (!) and of course tryiing to solve Khan Shahid Tomb mystery.

    You are probably right. The big tomb with no dome should be Khan Shahid' tomb but there is no grave. Maybe the grave was moved to Balban's tomb after Balban's death - western chamber. But then where is Majduddin's Tomb!?

    Opposite Rajaon ki Baoli are the ruins of some Lodhi era structures. ASI could renovate these too. And then while walking to Gandhak ki Baoli you will encounter more tombs and mosques.

    I am more concerned about the mughal tomb just ahead of the Khan Shahid tomb and the structure which is half buried under garbage from the nallah.

    This is the problem with the monuments, the more you read about them the more you want to revisit them since you missed that part. Like after visiting Azim Khan tomb i read your post about Kos Minar on the other side of the cemented path. Now i will have to again go back!!

    By the way have you seen the watch tower on the other side of this green patch along the Qila Rai Pithora walls on the western side?!

    Keep Exploring,

    Nirdesh

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  6. Hey Nirdesh,

    I still feel I have only seen a fraction of what the park has to offer - I have seen all the structures that you mention, except Gandhak ki Baoli. But I am yet to photograph most of these.

    The Lodi-era pavilion tomb that you mention is a splendid piece of architecture. I fell in love with it immediately. Sadly, if you explore a little further beyond it, you will see that the place is covered in trash & infested with dogs & pigs!! I shall soon be writing a post about these tombs too.

    The Mughal Tombs are indeed the most desperate of these, I noticed some of them are actually barred with grilles & stuffed with junk. That's no way to treat a medieval-era structure. & the drain that flows alongside has been pointed several times by other bloggers too, most notably Delhi Heritage Walks, but no action has ever been taken by the authorities. I don't think anything will happen till they excavate the whole area & turn it into a ticketed complex. perhaps in a decade or even more.

    I haven't yet been to Qila Rai Pithora, in fact I have only seen parts of 4 cities of Delhi - some 150 structures. There are over 1200 more to cover!! You can get the caretaker at Jamali-Kamali to open up the tomb for you, they did it on request for me & usually do it for Vikramjit Sir. In fact, the lady overseeing the restoration had actually read my blog & we had a lengthy discussion about chemical restoration of monuments. See if you can locate her the next time you visit. I forgot to ask her name though..

    Ahh..you read the articles about the ruins close to Azim's Tomb. When you do visit the place, do let me know, I will join you in all probability. I was afraid of exploring the entire area last time since I usually travel alone & did bot venture out into the vegetation much further. It wasn't exactly a Kos Minar though, it was a tapering tower arising out of the end of a Qibla Wall.

    Eager to visit the Archaeological Park again!!

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    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 10, 2016

      The tapering tower that you refer to, is in all probability the one built by Metcalfe to signify a lighthouse.

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