It was a crisp, spring morning. We were lined up in three not-so-straight lines, when the teachers announced an impromptu trip to Sultan Ghari. Immediate excitement led to some of us recalling that the name Sultan Ghari had first appeared in our Dilli Darshan. It was the first Islamic Mausoleum, located in Vasant Kunj, for Nasiruddin Mahmud, Iltutmish's son who died in a battle. Iltutmish was the Sultan who ruled over Delhi during the 13th century CE. We had also learnt that "Sultan" meant "ruler or king" and "Ghari" mean a "fortress".
A sandstone gate greeted us and it led us to a hexagonal rubble structure. The sight was grandiose. The large arched windows overlooked wide, thick jungle. Our teacher pointed out that since Iltumish was one of the first Muslim ruler in India who wanted to build an elaborate tomb, the then Indian workers were not accustomed to the Islamic style of architecture. Therefore, in some places there were hints of Indian (possibly Hindu) architecture such as lotus-flower carvings, which are essentially Hindu. The Qibla (wall facing Mecca) had a prayer niche on it which was carved with elaborate marble-etched designs. Holi seemed to have been played there, but our teachers clarified that they were vermillion or sindoor. We also learnt that people from all religions come here and there is a market held here on Thursdays. I found it quite clever that the architects had built the entrance to the burial site such that people were forced to bow their heads while entering, which showed a mark of respect to the prince buried there.
It is a perfect confluence of religions and cultures which define India and the city of Delhi.
Kaavya Mukherjee Saha