Sultan Garhi-The Tomb
Nasir ud din Mahmud, Nasir ud din Firuz Shah (1246–1266) was the eighth sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate (Slave dynasty). He was the son of Nasiruddin Mahmud (died-1229). He was named after his father; by Shams ud din Iltutmish, for he had grown an intense filial attachment, to the only begot son of his posthumous child. He succeeded Alauddin Masud Shah to the throne of Slave Dynasty at the age of sixteen, after the chiefs replaced Masud when they felt that he began to behave as a tyrant.
Nasiruddin Mahmud (rule 1246-66) – A Man of Pious Disposition
A man of pious disposition, Nasiruddin Mahmud (rule 1246-66) was a grandson of Iltutmish. According to some experts, he was the youngest son of Iltutmish.
Unlike many of his predecessors and successors, Mahmud strictly followed monogamy. He spent most of his times writing down verses of Quran. He sold the handwritten copies and used the money for his personal expenses. Surprising enough, he had no servants to carry out his personal tasks. His wife had to cook the food for the family.
As a ruler, Mahmud was known to be very religious, spending most of his time in prayer and renowned for aiding the poor and the distressed.
A Poor Ruler
Nasiruddin Mahmud was ill-qualified to rule. A puppet in the hands of his courtiers, he was married to the daughter of Ghiyasuddin Balban, one of the leading Turkish nobles. In reciprocation to this Balban was appointed to the post of regent (naib-i-mamlakat) and was conferred with the title of Ulugh Khan (premier Khan) by the Sultan. Actually his father-in-law and Deputy Sultan or Naib, Ghiyas ud din Balban (1266–1287), who primarily dealt with the state affairs, rose to power after Mahmud’s death in 1266 as Mahmud had no children to be his heir.
The fighter-Prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud (d. 1229)
The fighter-Prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud (1229)
(Eldest Son of Illtutmish and Crown Prince)
Except for a brief period (1253-55) when some nobles opposed to Balban instigated Nasiruddin to exile him, Balban was the de facto ruler of the Delhi Sultanate during the Sultan’s reign. Nasiruddin Mahmud died in 1266. Since he had no male heirs, he designated Balban to be the Sultan. The fourteenth century historian Isami as well as African traveller Ibn Batuta clearly mention that Nasiruddin was murdered by Balban. However, Yayiha bin Ahmad Sarhindi does not accuse Balban of regicide and according to him, Nasiruddin Mahmud died a natural death.
That was about Nasiruddin Mahmud.
Let us now talk about how the events took a turn:
Iltumish, ruling from Delhi since 1210 AD, invaded eastern India in 1225 AD to capture Lakhnauti (now a ruined city in West Bengal called Gaur). The resultant battle ended in signing of a treaty between Izaz, the then ruler of Eastern India (Bihar and Bengal) and Iltumish; the former ruler agreeing to pay a surety of 80 lakh tankas (silver currency), 38 elephants, mint and issue of coins in the name of Iltumish and accepting Sultan’s suzerainty over the region. Before returning to Delhi, Iltumish divided the region into Bihar and Lakhnauti, and installed Alauddin masud jani as his feudatory in Lakhnauti. But Jani’s control was short lived as he was overthrown by Iwaz soon after Iltumish’s departure.
Thereafter, Iltutmish deputed his eldest son prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud to fight Iwaz. In the battle which took place near Lakhnauti, Iwaz was trounced and executed in 1227 AD, along with his nobles. Prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud, who was then appointed as governor of Lakhnauti province, merged his original province of Oudh with Bengal and Bihar, and established his capital at Lakhnauti. This act of his, coupled with the fact that he was son of Iltumish enhanced his prestige in the province. As a reward, he was given the honorific title of ‘Malik-us-Sharq’ (king of the East) by Iltutmish. His rule was short lived, eventful and he could consolidate his territory. But after a rule of 18 months, Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud was killed.
Immensely grieved by the death of his favorite eldest son, Iltumish built a tomb called the Sultan Ghari in memory of his son, in 1231 AD, close to the Qutb complex.
Mahmud’s fortified tomb built by Iltutmish, known as Sultan Ghari, lies in the Vasant Kunj area, close to Mehrauli, in New Delhi. Built in1231 AD, it was the first Islamic Mausoleum built in India. The octagonal tomb chamber, is one of finest examples of Mamluk dynasty architecture, which also include the Qutub Minar.
Swastik on the Tomb Wall
The tomb is a revered place for devotees of both Hindu and Muslim religious communities of the nearby villages of Mahipalpur and Rangpuri since they consider the tomb as the Dargah of a saintly ‘peer’; a visit to the tomb is more or less mandatory for newlyweds from these two villages. Because of the religious veneration, the monument is maintained better by the local people than the Archaeological Survey of India who are the formal custodians to maintain the heritage structure.
Long Corridors of the Tomb on either side of the Mihrab
Tomb Wall Upstairs
Tomb Wall Downstairs
Funerary Chhatri of other brothers of Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud (d. 1229)
Entrance to the Crypt and Grave
Thursday is a special day for worship at this tomb when devotees, both Hindus and Muslims, visit the shrine, which represents a festive display of Hindu – Muslim syncretism of religious tolerance. Every year, on the 17th day of the Islamic month of Ziqad (month occurring between Ramadan and Eid festivals), the “Urs (death anniversary) of Nasiruddin Shah” is held when pilgrims from all parts of Delhi visit the tomb.
The historical confusion – Whose tomb is Sultan Garhi?
Is it the tomb of prince Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud (Eldest Son and Crown Prince)-The fighter or is it the tomb of Nasir ud din Mahmud, Nasir ud din Firuz Shah (1246–1266) was the eighth sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate (Slave dynasty). He was the son of Nasiruddin Mahmud (died-1229). He was named after his father, by Shams ud din Iltutmish, for he had grown an intense filial attachment, to the only begot son of his posthumous child.
The tomb is a revered place for devotees of both Hindu and Muslim religious communities and, Nasiruddin Mahmud (rule 1246-66) son of Nasiruddin Mahmud (died-1229) and named after his father, by Shams ud din Iltutmish, his grandfather, was known to be a man of pious disposition.
So, is it the tomb of the pious prince or the fighter prince (his father)?
For further details do read:
i) Breezes that Blow from Sultan Garhi and Beyond…..