11/1/2010 to 11/4/2010 | Delhi , India

Tughlaqabad to Nizamuddin a Tour of 14th Century Delhi

With my flight back to the states a day away I had finished my requisite Christmas shopping.  Despite shopping 2 months before Christmas I had managed to get the holiday shopping experiences anyway, as I had unknowingly scheduled my flight on the Indian holiday of Diwali.  In retrospect this unintentional scheduling was likely why I was able to get the flight for the lowest amount of miles, the Indian equivalent of flying on Christmas Day.  Decorated with lights, markets and shopping mall packed with people, shopping in the pre-Dawali crush was almost fitting.

The Delhi metro which had been under construction for as long as I can remember had finally opened its service to South Delhi making travel to that region significantly more convenient.  I decided to take advantage of it to visit Tughlaqabad.  The third of Delhi’s seven cities, the fort was built by Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq in 1321 but abandon six years later and now stands in atmospheric crumbling ruins, with Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq’s well maintained tomb across from the fort.  Once well outside the southern edge of the city the megalopolis that is Delhi has begun to engulf the area.  Even with the new southern metro lines it still took two bus transfers to reach the ruins.

Curiously within the walls of the fort there were the remnants of a small tomb clearly that of a Muslim, tended to by two Muslim men, yet it was being venerated on this day before the Hindu holiday of Diwali by local Hindu women who brought offerings of sweats to the to the pile of crumbling stone.  An example of the fusion and exchange that has taken place between the two religious communities often portrayed as confrontational.

On my way back into the city I stopped in Nizamuddin to fill up on some tasty Muslim food and visit the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya. Nizamuddin Auliya  was a Sufi Saint and  a contemporary of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq who built Tughlaqabad, and famously cursed the ruler and his fort after he robbed the Sufi saint of laborers which were constructing his shrine for the fort.  It was Thursday night colloquially known as “Sufi Night” at the shrine when a rotating group of performers stage a Qawwali, performance of devotional Urdu Hymns.  So I finished my last full day in Delhi with a belly full of Beef Nihari listing to the age old tunes of sufi mystics.  Not a bad way to spend and evening.

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