From the Hauz Khas metro station, I walk through an affluent neighbourhood, pass Chor Minar, the Tower of Thieves where heads of thieves were once displayed to deter others from stealing. After passing a Hindu temple and a few historic landmark buildings of the Khalji period, I walk through streets with art galleries, bars and hostels, until I enter the section of Hauz Khas that I came for: the 14th century buildings erected here by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. When I walk to the low wall at the end, I see the water tank of Hauz Khas below me. Originally, Ala ud-Din Khalji had a large tank constructed here for the inhabitants of Siri, one of the seven cities of Delhi. Hauz Khas literally means the Royal Tank, and apart from the noble connotations, the royal might as well refer to the enormous size of the tank. Presently, it looks more like a lake in a park.
After walking around the lawn with several circular and rectangular chhattri, or tombs, probably for teachers of the madrasas, I walk to the west wing of the madrasa. At the southeastern corner of the lake, a two-winged madrasa was built, and where these meet, Firoz Shas Tughlaq had a mausoleum built for himself. The outside looked quite austere, in Tughlaq style, and the mausoleum seems to be closed. But when I push the door at the south side, it swings open and I step into the hall. The ceiling has geometrical decorations, and in a row on the floor, I find the tombs of Firoz Shah, and his son and grandson. From the tomb, I walk the galleries of the west wing of the madrasa. There are jharokhas, overhanging balconies that jut out of the wall and give views of the Royal Tank below. At the extreme side of the wing, I find a large domed building. In the entrance, an attractive Indian girl posing for pictures with uncharacteristic bare legs.
The lower floors of the west wing have some dark rooms, probably student rooms. I walk past the mausoleum of Firoz Shah, through the north wing of the madrasa, which is not as well preserved as the west wing. It is full of young Indians posing for pictures. What makes the north wing attractive is the better views across the Royal Tank below. Just north of the north wing, I find the old mosque, which is in clear need of repairs. What makes this mosque special is that its western wall, which is the one indicating the direction of Mecca, has both mihrabs and jharokhas. The stairs leading down to the Royal Tank cannot be used anymore, so I walk through the streets with galleries again and then walk around the lake. I pass another historic building, the Mundas Gumbad, walk through the park where I find Bagh-I-Alam Ka Gumbad, another domed building of the Lodhi era tucked away in the park and looking a little forgotten. I find a trail leading to a hole in a fence, which is my shortcut back to the main street and back to the present-day world.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hauz Khas (India). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hauz Khas. Read more about this site.