About 8-km southwest of the
Qutub-Minar, on the Mehrauli-Palam
road, is Sultan Ghari's tomb, the first example of a monumental Muslim
tomb in India excepting some pre-Sultanate monuments in Kutch District.
From an inscription on its main gateway, we learn that it was built in
1231 by Iltutmish over the remains of his eldest son and heir-apparent,
prince Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud.
An Inspiring Architecture
The prince had waged several wars on his father's behalf and had died in 1229 at Lakhnauti. The monument exemplifies the same phase in tomb-architecture, as one finds in the Quwwatu'l-Islam mosque. It is built with architectural members removed from temples and employs the trabeate construction with which the indigenous architects were familiar.
Around an octagonal tomb-chamber resting on two-tiered pillars removed from earlier temples was raised here a square platform to about half the height of the chamber by piling up rubble stones, so that approached from the platform, now serving the purpose of a courtyard, the chamber assumed the character of a crypt (ghar).
The chamber was roofed by providing beams and lintels and covered with the opening on the south, suggests that the original approach to the interior was perhaps through this staircase, the opening through the veneer having been pierced later. The high platform is enclosed by colonnades on the east and west and plain walls on the other two sides, with domed bastions on the corners, which give the monument the appearance of a small fortress.
The corridors probably served as a 'madrasa' or college. In the centre of the western wing is a prayer-niche of marble, raised on pillars and provided with a minhrab richly ornamented with Quranic inscription. A marble 'yoni-patta' (base slab for a linga) is found re-used in the floor of this prayer-chamber. The exterior of the tomb-chamber is faced with marble stones over an earlier grey sandstone veneer, and appears to have been the work of Feroze Shah, who mentions having carried out certain repairs here.
Recently some sculptured lintels and an upright stone of a railing from some temples have been discovered embedded in the thickness of the roof concrete, suggesting that a temple existed here around the 7th-8th century. They re-used grey stone and marble in several places, as well as the amalakas lying here, appear to come from a different and later temple.
Around The Tomb
To the south of Sultan Ghari's tomb lie the pillared tombs of Rukn-ud-Din Firuz Shah (died in 1237) and Mu'izz-ud-Din Bahram Shah (died in 1241), sons of Iltutmish, who occupied the throne subsequently for brief periods, the former in 1235 and the latter in 1241.
A Sanskrit inscription dated in 1361 on a slab found used in a house of later date to the west of the tomb records the digging of a tank on the occasion of a marriage-ceremony, while a stone linga is found used as a lintel in a blind arch. A mosque in ruins in the neighbourhood was possibly built by Feroze Shah, while other remains here may belong to the late Mughal period.