Just across the highway from
Humayun's tomb is the shrine
of a revered Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyaa or Nizam-ud-Din. A
settlement developed here during the saint's lifetime and the locality has
since remained continuously inhabited.
The shrine, or dargah, draws devotees from all over the Islamic world. Amir Khusrau, a poet and the saint's beloved disciple is also buried over here. This locality, known as the Nizamuddin 'Basti', is dotted with several monuments, most of which have been encroached upon. The area however, remains a fascinating place to explore, as it seems to belong to another century altogether.
Muhammad Tughluq built this tomb and to this day, the place is one of the sacred places of pilgrimage. The complex of the shrine also contains several tombs including the tomb of Shah Jahan's beautiful daughter, Jahan Ara Begum and of noted poet Mirza Ghalib. Legend Of Nizamuddin
Built on the way from Humayun's tomb, the premise of the shrine is a tank, which is surrounded by many other tombs. It is said that there was an argument between the rulers of Tughluqabad and the saint over building this tank. The saint had said that the city of Tughluqabad will never prosper and so did it happen. The tomb has been through several renovations ever since it was built. The present mausoleum dates back to 1562.
Every Thursday at around sunset an extravagant performance of qawwali singers takes place after the evening prayers.
Shaikh Nizamu'd-Din was born at Budaun in 1236. He lost his father at the age of five and came to Delhi with his mother. Later he became the disciple of the famous saint Shaikh Farid Shakarganj, who appointed him as his successor. Both 'Ala-ud-Din Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq were devoted to him.
He prophesied that Ghiyath-ud-Din Tughluq, who was then in Bengal, would never see Delhi again and his prophecy came true, as the Sultan died in a temporary structure some 6-km south of Delhi.
Hazrat Nizamu'd-Din died in 1325. His original tomb does not exist any longer. It was repaired and decorated by Feroze Shah Tughluq, but even the repaired building has disappeared. The present structure was built in 970 AH (1562-63) by Faridu'n Khan, a nobleman with a high rank, and has been added to or repaired later by several persons.
It consists of a square chamber surrounded by verandahs, which are pierced by arched openings, while its roof is surmounted by a dome pringing from an octagonal drum. The dome is ornamented by vertical stripes of black marble and is crowned by a lotus-cresting. The area around the tomb is regarded as sacred, with the result that a large number of persons, including those from the royalty, lie buried here.
Twice during the year, i.e. on the death anniversaries of Hazrat Nizamu'd-Din Auliya and Amir Khusraw, a fair ('urs) is held here, when the entire area comes to life with pilgrims congregating from all over India.
Other Monuments In The Dargah
Jama'at- Khana Masjid
To the west of Hazrat Nizamu'd-Din's tomb lies the rectangular Jama 'at-Khana-Masjid, veneered with red sandstone. Consisting of three bays, each surmounted by a low dome, the central one higher, its arches are fringed with the 'lotus-bud' decoration, recalling the features of the 'Ala-i-Darwaza.
The mosque was built in 1325 by Khizr Khan, son of 'Ala-ud-Din Khalji, and is the oldest building in this area. Khizr Khan was the hero of one of Amir Khusraw's love-poems.
Chini Ka Burj
On the western wall of the baoli, a mosque called Chini-ka-Burj, consists of three compartments, each with an arched opening. An inscription incised in plaster in a domed chamber on its roof is too fragmentary to be made out. The building was, however, apparently built in the Lodi times.
The profuse decoration with coloured tiles and incised plaster on the interior of its upper chamber has given it its present name of Chini-ka-Burj, meaning a 'tower of tiles'. On the same side of the baoli stands a small marble pavilion with a vaulted roof and three arched entrances. It is known as Bai-Kodaldai's tomb, but who this lady was is not known.
Tomb Of Jahanara
To the south of Shaikh Nizamu'd-Din's tomb is situated the unroofed enclosure with perforated marble screens containing the grave of Jahanara, Shah Jahan's elder daughter. The hollow receptacle on the grave is filled with grass in accordance with the touching inscription on it, meaning "Let naught cover my grave save the green grass, for grass well suffices as a covering for the grave of the lowly".
The tomb of Muhammad Shah (1719-48) also lies within a small enclosure similar to Jahanara's tomb. Mirza Jahangir, the eldest son of Akbar II (1806-37), also lies buried in an enclosure here.
Amir Khusraw's Tomb
South of the above-mentioned tombs is Amir Khusraw's tomb, which bears inscriptions of several dates. Amir Khusraw, the chief disciple of Shaikh Nizamu'd-Din Auliya, enjoyed the patronage of several rulers and was a celebrated saint and poet.
On the eastern periphery of the village of Nizamuddin lies Kali Masjid or Kalan-Masjid, built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, prime minister of Feroze Shah Tughluq. It is one of the seven mosques reputed to have been built by him. Built of rubble stone, it is an extensive structure.
Originally, its courtyard was partly covered and partly uncovered as in the Khirki-Masjid. Its eastern doorway has an inscription mentioning that it was built in 772 AH (1370-71) by Kimam Shah Maqbul, entitled Khan-i-Jahan, son of Khan-i-Jahan.
At the northern gate of the enclosure of the dargah is a large baoli (stepped well), which is considered sacred by the followers of the saint. It is said that the baoli was under construction at the same time when Ghiyath-ud-Din Tughluq was engaged in building Tughluqabad, and the latter had prohibited workmen to work elsewhere.
They, however, worked for the saint at night and when the emperor forbade the sale of oil also, so that they could not work during the nights, they used the water of the baoli for oil, and it served the purpose equally well. more...
Khan-I-Jahan Tilangani's Tomb
In the northwestern corner of the village stands the tomb of Khan-i-Jahan Tilangani, the prime minister of Feroze Shah Tughluq, his real name being Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul Khan. It consists of a central octagonal chamber enclosed by a verandah and covered by a dome.
Each of its sides is pierced by three arched openings. Although now in a dilapidated condition, architecturally it occupies an important place in the development of tombs, being the first octagonal tomb in Delhi.
Ataga Khan's Tomb
The northern periphery of the village of Nizamuddin is occupied by a small tomb built of red sandstone within a walled enclosure. On all its four sides are deeply recessed arches containing openings and its red sandstone facing is thickly inlaid with marble and coloured tiles.
Its interior was ornamented with painted plaster, which has now largely come off. Coloured tiles are also fixed on the western wall of its enclosure containing recessed arches. Although small in size, measuring 6-m-sq, it is virtually a gem of architecture.
Ataga Khan was the husband of Ji Ji Anga, a wet nurse of Akbar and held important positions in the court. In 1562 he was killed by Adham Khan, son of Maham Anga, another wet nurse of Akbar. An inscription on the southern door of the tomb mentions that it was finished in 974 AH (1566-67).
Not far from Ataga Khan's tomb to its east lies the Chaunsath-Khamba, a marble pavilion with sixty-four pillars. It contains several graves including that of Mirza 'Aziz Kokaltash, Ataga Khan's. Built earlier as a hall, it may have been converted later into a tomb. It is surrounded by an enclosure wall, but is sited within the raised western half of the enclosure. The main grave is inscribed and bears the date 1033 AH (1623-24).
Outside the enclosure of Chaunsath-Khamba on its north lies the grave of the famous poet Mirza Ghalib (1796-1869). In recent years the grave has been covered by a small marble structure and enclosed within a compound wall.
North of the village of Nizamuddin stands a large square structure consisting of a central chamber with three arches on each side and supported on twelve sets of pillars, from which it has derived its present name meaning 'twelve pillars'. Around the central chamber on all the sides runs a verandah. Originally, it appears to have been a tomb, the identity of the person buried in it being unknown.
Outside Chaunsath-Khamba a red sandstone building in private occupation, now considerably renovated, attracts attention. Knows as Lal-Mahal or 'red palace', it has a central domed room, with verandahs on all the sides. The verandahs have a flat roof supported on pillars and lintels. It is identified sometimes with Kushki-Lal (red palace), built by Ghiyath-ud-Din Balban, which, however, remains untraced.
The tomb of 'Abdu'r-Rahim Khan, who had the title of Khan-i-Khanan, lies on the east of Mathura road opposite Nizamuddin. It is a massive square edifice rising from a high platform faced by arched cells, double-storyed, with a high deeply recessed central arch on each side and several shallow arches on the flanks in each storey, it follows the pattern of Humayun's tomb .
The interior of the tomb is decorated with incised and painted plaster with beautiful designs, specially on the ceiling. Around the central double dome are disposed chhatris at the corners and dalans (open halls) in the middle of the sides. The red sandstone, marble and other stones, which faced it originally were later removed and used in Safdarjung's tomb.
'Abdu'r Rahim Khan Khan-i-Khanan was the son of Bairam Khan, regent of Akbar, and served both Akbar and Jahangir. He knew several languages and composed couplets in Hindi under the familiar name of Rahim. He died in 1626-27.
Barapula is a bridge on the old Mathura road, 1-km east of Khan-i-Khanan's tomb. It consists of eleven arched openings, but twelve piers, which appear to have given it its name meaning 'twelve piers'. Each pier is surmounted by a 2m high minar. The bridge is 14m in width and over 195m in length. There was an inscription on one of its arches, now not traceable, according to which, it was built in 1030 A.H. (1621-22) by Mihr Banu Agha, the chief eunuch of Jahangir's court.