Kotla Feroze Shah-Kushki Feroze – Woh khat, woh khutoot aur woh illtaja…….”Minar-e-Zareen…….” “Lat wale Baba…..”, “Djinnat……….”
Dama Dam Mast Qualandar- Kotla Feroze Shah
Internet Photo of Painting
“……………When the Moghuls took over, Kotla was a forsaken building and the haunt of sufis and mast kalandars. The latter were a sect of derveshes who wore camel skin shirts or just wrapped themselves up in blankets. They were generally big, sturdy men, neglectful of their hygiene, who went about beating themselves with iron chains or brandishing huge steel fire-tongs……”
“Now, you don’t find mast kalandars in the Kotla, but the sufis are still there. Go on a Thursday and you will find them in full sway”
“People do not flock to see them but seek the intervention of jinns in their daily lives”
Baba Mast Qualandar and the Kotla-Feroze Shah
Entrance of the Cave at Feroze Shah Kotla
“DJinn” Ke Paas Hoti Hain Umer Bhar Ki Yadain,
“Who” Log Tanhai Mein Bhi Tanha Nahi Hotay…..
Feroze Shah Tughluq
Old Image of Tomb Feroze Shah Tughlaq at “Tararabad” – ‘the city of joy’
“Tughlaq” is a name which originated from “Qutluq”.
Feroze Shah was the son of Malik Rajab and a Hindu princess. Name of Mother of Feroz Shah Tughluq was Bibi Nala, Hindu princess of Dipalpur Bhatti Rajput girl.
I read in an old book the following account: “On entering the house of Sipahsalar Rajjab (Feroze Shah Tughlaq’s father), she was styled Sultan Bibi Kadbanu. After the lapse of a few years she gave birth to Firoz shah.
As Muhammad bin Tughlaq left no son, his cousin Feroze Shah Tughlaq ascended the throne as Sultan. Rajab was the younger brother of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq.
Feroze Shah Tughlaq (r. 1351–88), the Sultan of Delhi, established the fortified city of Ferozabad in 1354, as the new capital of the Delhi Sultanate, and included in it the site of the present Feroze Shah Kotla. Kotla literally means fortress or citadel.
Feroze Shah Kotla was popularly known as Kushk-i-Feroz, meaning Feroze’s palace in earlier times.
Feroze Shah’s lath [Delhi]. (British Library Archives)
Part of a portfolio of photographs taken in 1858
by Major Robert Christopher Tytler and his wife, Harriet.
These images have been reproduced with the permission of ASI.
It appears at Plate II & III in their publication: MASI No. 52, A Memoir on Kotla Firoz Shah, Delhi,
published by Archaeological Survey of India, 1937, Reprint 1999. )
“Delhi-Its Monuments and History”
Map by Percival Spear
Jami Masjid of Feroze Shah Kotla
Jami Masjid of Feroze Shah Kotla
The Jami Masjid had four cloisters arranged in a rectangle, its small domed roofs supported on 260 stone columns of 16 feet high each; and having a 25 feet high central octagonal dome – that contained the Emperor’s ordinances – in the middle of the courtyard supported on a circular shaft. It must have been felt necessary to build a northern entrance gateway, rather than from the customary eastern side, because the river ran along its eastern edge. Narrow staircases for the zenana were present in the thickness of the western wall.
Timur was so impressed with the Masjid that he carried with him the sculptors, stone-masons and stucco-workers to build a similar mosque back home in Samarkand in December 1398. The layout of the Kotla Masjid was adapted to build his colossal Bibi Khanum Mosque at Samarkand – ‘whose dome would have been unique had it not been for the heavens, and unique would have been its portal had it not been for the Milky Way ’ – by the same Indian workmen from 1399-1404, using 95 elephant loads of exquisite precious gems and marbles and construction materials ferried from India, Samarkand Jami mosque’s vaulted roofs were supported on 480 marble pillars, with slender minarets at each corner, its walls and brass doors inscribed with Koranic verses.
Death of a Mughal Emperor at Feroze Shah Kotla
Feroze Shah Kotla has seen it all. Murder, intrigue, jealousy and one just has to name it.
Talking of murder most foul, a Mughal Badshah On ascending the throne, Aziz-ud-din Alamgir II, took the title of Alamgir and tried to follow the approach of Aurangzeb Alamgir.
At the time of his accession to throne he was an old man of 55 years. He had no experience of administration and warfare as he had spent most of his life in jail. He was a weak ruler, with all powers vested in the hand of his Wazir, Ghazi-ud-Din Imad-ul-Mulk.
In November 1759, the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II was told that a pious man had come to meet him, Alamgir II, ever so eager to meet holy men, set out immediately to meet him at Kotla Fateh Shah, he was stabbed repeatedly by Imad-ul-Mulk’s assassins.
It is said that Alamgir II was stabbed just as he emerged from the tunnel at the foot of Jami Masjid of Feroze Shah Kotla. This Tunnel most probably connected Red Fort aka Qila-i-Mualla to Feroze Shah Kotla. It is even said that his body lay rotting in the sun for four days before it was picked up by some heretics.
Eventually Alamgir II was buried in Humayun’s tomb complex.
Alamgir II was, by birth, a pious man. He never missed any prayer in the imperial Pearl Mosque and occasionally delivered the sermons as well, he was a friend and patron of Sufi mystics, he is also known to have walked through the streets of Delhi to attend prayers at different Mosques without adequate security.
Tunnel at the foot of Jami Masjid of Feroze Shah Kotla
Tunnel at the foot of of stairs leading to Jami Masjid of Feroze Shah Kotla
The Ashokan Pillar
Water-colour painting of the Pillar of Firoz Shah at Delhi by an anonymous artist, 1808-1820. Inscribed on the front in pencil is: ‘The Lat of Firoz Shah at Delhi.’-British Library
Top of the Ashokan Pillar
The Ashokan pillar is installed on top of a three-storied lofty rubble-built pyramidal structure with progressively diminishing size in each successive terrace, having cells with arched entrances, and referred to as the Hawa Mahal. The pillar is a 27-tonne sandstone monolith 42’ 7” in height – pale orange with flecks of black – out of which 35’ is polished. The unpolished portion is believed to be the buried part at its original place of installation at Tobra.
The pillar, also called obelisk or Lat is an Ashoka Column, attributed to Mauryan ruler Ashoka. The 13.1 metres high column, made of polished sandstone and dating from the 3rd Century BC, was brought from Ambala in 14th century AD under orders of Feroze Shah.
It was installed on a three-tiered arcaded pavilion near the congregational mosque, inside the Sultanate’s fort. In centuries that followed, much of the structure and buildings near it were destroyed as subsequent rulers dismantled them and reused the spolia as building materials.
The Sultanate had wanted to break and reuse the Ashoka pillar for a minaret. Feroze Shah Tuhglaq decided to erect it near a mosque instead. At the time of re-installation of the obelisk in Delhi, in 1356, no one knew the meaning of the script engraved in the stone.
About five hundred years later, the script was deciphered by James Prinsep in 1837 with help from scripts discovered on other pillars and tablets in South Asia.
The inscription on the 3rd century pillar describe King Devanampiya Piyadasi’s policies and appeal to the people and future generations of the kingdom in matters of dharma (just, virtuous life), moral precepts and freedoms.
The Ashokan edicts on the Feroz Shah Kotla pillar were the first to be decoded by James Prinsep in 1837, thus finding the key to Brahmi script.
……..No bird can fly as high as its top and arrows cannot reach to its middle…O God! How could they paint it all over gold, (so beautifully) that it appears to the people like the golden morning……!
Accession of Feroze Shah Tughlaq
The body of Muhammad bin Tughlaq was put into a coffin and placed on an elephant and sent to Delhi.
Information reached the Sultan Feroz Shah that Khwaja-i-Jahan, the deputy of the late Sultan -Muhammad bin Tughlaq, at Delhi had proclaimed a boy as Sultan and gave out him as the son of the late Sultan.
Historians also differ as to the claim of Firuz to the throne of Delhi. Some historians are of the opinion that the boy proclaimed as the sultan by Khwaja-i-Jahan was ‘not a supposititious son’ but an issue of Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s body. Therefore according to him Firuz was a usurper.
Other historian, however, maintain that there is no record or proof that Muhammad bin Tughlaq had a son.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s coronation took place in Royal Camp of Thatta in 1351. He got investiture from Caliph of Egypt.
One dies but once-One Sultan, one death – but so many speculations of resting places.
Feroze Shah Tughlaq-had chosen as his place of final rest.
i) Lal Gumbad-but gave it to Kabirudin Auliya as his tomb
ii) Quadam Shareef-but it was destined to be the tomb of his son-Fateh Khan
Originally, Feroze Shah Tughluq (1309 – 1388) constructed the large rectangular tomb at its core for himself, and surrounded it with massive walls and impressive gates in typical Tughlaq style. However, when his son Fateh Khan died in 1376, he repurposed the tomb to be used for his son. Also added was a stone with a foot print of Muhammad (the founder of Islam), which Feroze Shah had brought in from Mecca.
iii) Hauz Khas
Finally, he rests in peace in Hauz Khas.
Feroze Shah Tughlaq’s Tomb in Hauz Khas-Delhi
Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-1388 AD) is attributed with:
- a. Establishment of Diwan-i-Khairat (department for poor and needy people) and Diwan-i-Bundagan (department of slaves).
- b. Establishment in Delhi a hospital described variously as Darul-Shifa, Bimaristan or Shifa Khana
- c. Establishment of four new towns, Firuzabad, Fatebabad, Jaunpur and Hissar.
Bright and Dark Years of Firoz Tughlaq’s reign:
Assessment of the revenue:
Firoz Tughlaq appointed a special officer namely Khawja Hisan-ud-Din to prepare an estimate of the public revenue of the kingdom. It took 6 years to complete this work.
Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-88) Silver tanka, Hadrat Dehli
Weight: 8.88 gm., Diameter: 17 mm. Die axis: 10 o’clock
New system of taxation:
In accordance with the Islamic law, he imposed the following four taxes:
It was the land tax which was equal to one-tenth of the produce of the land.
It was two-and-half per cent tax on property realized from the Muslims and utilized for specific religious purposes only.
It was one-fifth of the booty captured and the four-fifth was left for the soldiers.
It was levied on the Non-Muslim subjects, particularly the Hindus. Women and children were, however exempted from the taxes.
With a view to encourage irrigation, the Sultan paid a lot of attention to irrigation works.
He is often termed by the British, as ‘The Father of the Irrigation Department’ for his pioneering attempt in building canals and water supply routes in various cities that he built, apart from, of course, his restoration projects that may entitle him as the founding president of the Conservation Society of Delhi.
Following four canals were constructed:
- The first and the most important and the longest canal were one which carried the waters of the river Jamuna to the city of Hissar. It was 150 miles long.
- The second canal was drawn from river Sutlej to Ghaghra. It was about 100 miles long.
- The third canal was from Mandvi and Sirmur hills to Hansi.
- The fourth canal ran from Ghaghra to the newly established town of Firozabad.
Irrigation tax was charged at the rate of one-tenth of the produce of the irrigated land.
Laying out gardens:
The Sultan laid out about 1200 gardens in and around Delhi. These gardens produced so much fruit that they brought to the treasury an annual income of one lakh and eighty thousand tankas’.
Welfare of the peasants:
The Sultan waived off the loans that were given to them by Muhammad Tughlaq at the time of drought. He issued strict instructions to the officers not to harass the peasants.
These included the following:
It performed two main functions. The marriage bureau gave grants to the poor parents for the marriage of their daughters. It also provided financial help to the destitute.
Hospitals were set up in important towns where medicines were given free of charge. Poor people were also supplied food.
About 200 ‘sarais’ (rest houses) were built by the Sultan for the benefits of merchants and other travellers.
- Grants to sufferers:
The Sultan gave liberal grants to all those persons or their heirs who had suffered bodily or executed during the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq.
Public works department:
- The Sultan got constructed four canals, ten public baths, four mosques, thirty palaces, two hundred, Sarais’, one hundred tombs, 30 towns and one hundred bridges. Firoz Shah had a passion for public works. About his building activities, Sultan himself observed, “Among the gifts which God has bestowed upon me, His humble servant, had a desire to erect public buildings. So 1 built many mosques and monasteries that the learned and the devout and the holy, might worship God in these edifices and aid the kind builder with their prayers.”
- Four important towns founded by him were of Firozabad, Fatehabad, Jaunpur and Hissar Firoza. Two pillars of Ashoka were brought to Delhi—one from Meerut and the other from Topra, Arnbala district—and erected in Delhi. In this regard Dr. V.A. Smith has observed, “Asiatic kings as a rule show no interest in buildings erected by their predecessors, which usually are allowed to decay uncared for. Firoz Shah was particular in devoting much attention to the repair and rebuilding of the structures of former kings and ancient nobles.”
Promotion of education and literature:
Firoz Tughlaq was a great patron of historians, poets and scholars. He himself was a man of learning and wrote his biography entitled ‘Fatuhat-i-Firozshah’. He established thirty educational institutions including three colleges. Teachers were liberally paid and stipends were granted to the students.
Zia-ud-Din Barani wrote ‘Fatwah-i-Jahandari’ and Afif wrote his ‘Tarikh-i-Firuzshah’.
Maulana Jalal-ud-Din Rumi, the famous theologian also flourished in his court.
Firoz Tughlaq was opposed to severe punishments. He ended punishments like cutting of the limbs, extracting the eyes, putting melted glass in the throat, burning alive etc. He established courts at all important places of his empire and appointed Qazis etc. to administer justice.
Reforms in the currency system:
The Sultan introduced several types of new coins and small coins and ensured that no false coins came into circulation.
Dark Side of Firoz Tughlaq‘s Reign:
Number of slaves increased to 1, 80,000 in Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s time, which was a burden on the treasury.
Failure as a conqueror:
Firoz Tughlaq was not an able general. No significant conquests were made by him.
Main military events are given below:
Firoz Tughlaq made two attempts to conquer Bengal but failed.
While returning from Bengal, he attacked Orissa. The ruler agreed to pay tribute to the Sultan.
- Nagarkot (Kangra):
It took about six months to subjugate the Raja who acknowledged the Sultan’s suzerainty.
In the initial attacks by the Sultan himself, about three- fourth of his army was destroyed. Later the Sindh ruler accepted the suzerainty of the Sultan.
The Sultan introduced several reforms in the army which produced negative results.
- He did not maintain a standing army,
- Military service was made hereditary,
- The principle of merit was ignored,
- The Sultan introduced the system of paying salary by grant of land.
- This meant that a soldier had to go to his village for collecting his land revenue in lieu of salary.
Evils of Jagirdari system:
Firoz Tughlaq introduced the system of granting jagirs (lands) to his officials in place of cash payment. In due course, jagirdars became very powerful and created difficulties for the rulers
Firoz Tughlaq decreed that whenever a noble died, his son should be allowed to succeed to his position. This reduced the chances of competent persons being appointed at responsible posts.
It is said that Firoz Tughlaq had maintained about one lakh, eighty thousand slaves. It put great economic burden on the state. This slave system proved very harmful and became one of the contributory factors of the downfall of the Tughlaq Empire.
Fanatically intolerant religious policy towards the Hindus:
Firoz encouraged the Hindus for conversion to Islam. In his autobiography, he wrote, “I encouraged my infidel subjects (Hindus) to embrace the religion of the Prophet (Islam religion), and I proclaimed that everyone who left his creed and became a Mussalman should be exempted from ‘jizya’. He further wrote, “I also ordered that the infidel books, the idols and the vessels used in their worship (Hindus) should all be publicly burnt.”
Habit of drinking:
Firoz was so addicted to drinking that whenever he set out on a military expedition, he would remain in a state of drunkenness for several days. This was followed by his nobles and forces as well.
An estimate of Firoz Tughlaq:
Appreciation by historians:
- “The welfare of the people”, says Dr. Ishwari Prasad, “was the watchword of his administration. Therefore, Firoz is considered by Barani as an ideal Muslim King.”
- In the words of Havell Firozj’s reign “is a welcome breath in the long chain of tyranny, cruelty and debauchery which make up the gloomy annals of the Turkish dynasties.”
- Afif, a contemporary of Firoz writes, “Their (peasants) homes were replete with grain, everyone had plenty of gold and silver. “No women was without ornaments”
- About the previous penal code and the changes brought about by Firoz, S.R. Sharma states, “it was left to his less appreciated successor (Firoz) to mitigate its ferocity.”
- About the judicial system, V.A. Smith has said, “One reform the abolition of mutilation and torture, deserves unqualified commendation.”
About his love for buildings, Sir Woolseley Haigh has remarked, “He indulged in a passion for building which equalled if it did not surpass that of Roman emperor Augutus.”
Criticism by historians:
About his lack of military skill, V.A. Smith states, “The campaign (Bengal) had no result except the wanton slaughter thus evidenced. No territory was annexed and the practical independence of the eastern empire continued unimpaired.” He further observes, “It seems to be plain that Firoz Shah possessed no military capacity. His early campaigns in the east and the west were absolutely futile, and during the greater part of his long reign he abstained from war.”
Likewise regarding Firoz’s expedition to Sindh, Dr. Ishwari Prasad wrote, “The expedition was a singular instance of the Sultan’s felinity and lack of strategic skill.”
Regarding his religious intolerance, S.R. Sharma states, “It is a pity that such a Sultan should have besmirched his fair name by acts of religious intolerance.”
In the same manner Dr. R.C. Majumdar writes, “Firoz was the greatest bigot of his age.”
Professor B.P. Saxena also states, “…But in the last fifteen years of his reign Firoz was an incurable and degenerate fanatic.”
We may conclude the discussion with the views of Dr. V.A. Smith, “Firoz Shah, whatever may have been his defects or weaknesses deserves much credit for having mitigated in some respects the horrible practices of his predecessors, and for having introduced some tincture of humane feelings into the administration.”
Towards the end……….
The last years of Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s rule and life were not happy. He lost his eldest son Fateh Khan, whom he had nominated as the heir apparent, in 1374. He now nominated his second son Zafar Khan as his heir, but he also died. The third son Muhammad Khan was the next choice but no formal nomination was made in his case.
In the meantime the prime minister Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul had died and his son had become prime minister. The new prime minister persuaded the Sultan to believe that the prince was conspiring with the nobles to seize power and got the Sultan’s permission to punish the Prince’s partisans.
But the prince Muhammad Khan met the Sultan Firuz and convinced him that the Khan-i-Jahan, i.e. the prime minister was trying to destroy the royal family to clear his way to the throne. Firuz Shah permitted Muhammad Khan to punish Khan-i-Jahan who sensed the situation and fled to Mewat.
Mahammad now began to assist his father Firuz Shah in the administration and was allowed to share the royal title. He was now formally declared heir-apparent (1387).
Soon after the prince got Khan-i-Jahan killed and assumed all power of the state in his own hands. But instead of looking into the administration he gave himself up to pleasure. The administration naturally becomes lax and everything was in confusion. Some of the nobles who were loyal to the crown tried to rouse Muhammad Khan to his responsibilities, but to no purpose.
They therefore organized a rebellion Muhammad was now obliged to throw off his lethargy and fight the nobles. But the nobles brought the old Sultan Firuz Tughlaq to the battle field and brought a sense of nervousness on the side of Muhammad Khan who fled for life.
His eldest son, Fath Khan, died in 1376. The Sultan then abdicated in August 1387 and made his other son, Prince Muhammad, king. A slave rebellion forced the Sultan to confer the royal title to his grandson, Tughluq Khan.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq died on Sept. 20, 1388.
Death and Legends of Feroz Shah Tughlaq:
Death: September 20, 1388, Delhi
Final Resting place:
Feroz Shah died in 1388 at the age of 90, and was buried in the exquisite square-shaped tomb with an unusual open courtyard overlooking the beautiful Hauz Khas, hoping for a peaceful fterlife in the academic air of the young students and the maulvis of the finest Muslim seminary and college that he had built in Tararabad, ‘the city of joy’.
A King who sought immortality through his buildings, he seemed to get the eloquent concurrence from religious quarters :
“He is not dead who leaves behind him on earth, Bridge and mosque, well and serai.”
“Who so buildeth for God a place of worship, Be it like the nest of Qata-bird; God buildeth for him a house in paradise.”
After Feroz Shah died in 1388, subsequent kings re-used the building materials from the Kushk-i-Feroz, the ‘Citadel of Firoz’ – built from rough masonry of local quartzite stone blocks, to raise Newer Delhis – projects like Sher Shah Suri’s ‘Shergarh’ and Shahjahan’s ‘Shahjahanabad’ completely cannibalized the older city of Firozabad.
Tughlaq’s death led to a war of succession coupled with nobles rebelling to set up independent states. His lenient attitude had strengthened the nobles, thus weakening the Sultan’s position. His successor Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq II could not control the slaves or the nobles. The army had become weak and the empire had shrunk in size. Ten years after his death, Timur‘s invasion devastated Delhi.
Ruined Citadel and Commencement of Game of Death:
It is the Firoz Shah Kotla ruins where the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II (1754-59) was lured to death by his commander-in-chief by telling him that a noted Fakir has come there, and as the pious Emperor entered the place, hired assassins attacked and cut off his head, and threw the headless body from the mosque onto the river banks where it rotted for days.
i) Tarikh i Firoze Shahi – Ziauddin barani: This work preserves the history of the Delhi Sultanat for the period 1259 to 1352; it gives the histoy of nine rulers from Balban to Firoze Shah Tughluq. Barani’s write up including the narrative of Firoze Tughluq, constitutes a standard a standard work of history, which establishes his reputation as premier historain of his age.
ii) Fatawa I Jahandari-Barani: It is a complementary volume to the Tarikh i Firoze Shahi. In this book, the author recapitulates and futher elaborates the political philosophy of the sultnate on the basis of his earlier narrative.
iii) Firoze Tughluq’s Autobiography : Sultan Firoze Shan Tughluq has left a brochure of thirty two pages in autobiographical writing, called Futuhat i Firoze Shahi: it give a brief summary of his military compaigns, some of which failed to produce the desired results.
iv) Tarikh i Firoze Shahi – Shams i Siraj Afif: The book is devoted exclusively to the reign of Firoze Tughluq and constitutes the most accurate and authentic contemporary account of his times. The book is unique in sense that it also describes the life and conditions of the people at large.
- “Delhi that no one knows” by author R.V. Smith.
- A Memoir on Kotla Firoz Shah, Delhi; by J.A. Page & Mohammad Hamid Kuraishi, (1937, Reprint 1999), Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
- Delhi : Its Monuments and History, by Percival Spear.
- City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple, Olivia Fraser (Illustrator)