Delhi Tomb Review Update

I realised there was a tomb missing from my previous review of Delhi tombs, so today I went to visit it. Here’s the factburst for you.

SULTAN GHARI

Where: South Delhi, a long way from anywhere.

How to get there: Take the yellow line metro to Qutub Minar. Then try to get one of the autorickshaw drivers there to take you. They’re only interested in the lucrative Qutub Minar metro to monument shuttle run business, so they won’t want to. Also they probably don’t know where it is. Find an old man who speaks a bit of English and tell him where you want to go. Let him explain to the suspicious auto driver. Agree an extortionate rate for the return journey. Set off at a snail’s pace, because the auto has a punctured tyre, which the driver forgot to mention before you agreed to the deal. Pull over at a tyre shop. Take the spare wheel, which also has a puncture, to be fixed by the tyre wallah. When this is done, replace the punctured wheel with the newly fixed spare wheel. Don’t bother with a jack; the driver can just lift up one side of his vehicle while the mechanic replaces the wheel. Set off again, this time at a more reasonable speed. Stop repeatedly the entire way to ask for directions from locals, most of whom have no idea where it is, either. When you see an unsigned dirt track through a wasteground, take it. Ask some more locals hanging around a building site / slum. Turn around and go back the way you came. Take a different unsigned dirt path which forks off the first. If you’re surrounded by overgrown scrubland and piles of rubble, and you’re wondering where the hell you’ve taken yourself, keep going. Now you’re there.

How to really get there, with hindsight: Walk left out of the station, about 500m to the main intersection, and cross to the road on the right (signposted Vasant Kunj). Flag down an auto from there and ask for the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre. From there, keep walking in the same direction, past a crossroads, to a police checkpoint. At the checkpoint, take the dirt track on the left with low stone walls on either side, then take the first right fork off it. Now you’re there.

Tomb history: The name is misleading, as there’s no such person as ‘Sultan Ghari’. The tomb was built by Iltutmish, one of the Slave Sultans of Delhi, for his son, Prince Nasiruddin Mahmud. Built in 1231, it was the first Islamic mausoleum in Delhi, so the beginning of a great tradition which culminated in incredible monuments like Humayun’s Tomb and, beyond Delhi, the Taj Mahal.

Sultan Ghari, Delhi

Tomb review: It’s a small, underwhelming structure, like a tiny fort. Inside there’s a low, wide, barrow-like crypt, and under this, in a dark, warm, sticky cavern are the tombs themselves. The locals revere the occupant as a saint, and place candles and edible offerings as a form of worship. There’s a river of ants flowing in and out of the crypt to retrieve the edibles. That’s about all there is to say about Sultan Ghari.

Bonus tomb: About 100m away, through the trees and scrub, there’s another bonus tomb. It’s just a coffin on a bit of raised ground, but it’s obviously revered by locals as well, because they keep it white-washed and there are pomegranate seeds scattered on it. If you’re on some kind of bizarre quest to see as many tombs as possible, it’s a gratifying extra win.

Anonymous tomb near Sultan Ghari, Delhi

Summary: It’s definitely not worth the trip, unless a) you’re some kind of fanatical tomb collector, b) you have an OCD need to visit every tomb in Delhi so that your blog can’t be accused of incompleteness, or c) you regard the whole inadvisable journey there as part of the fun.

 

UPDATE

I later realised there were several tombs missing from my Delhi Tomb Review, not just this one, so I did a Delhi Tomb Review Update 2.

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