Articulating the Outstanding Universal Value of Delhi’s Ancient and Sultanate Period th
10 November, 2011, India International Centre, New Delhi
Contribution of the Firuzian Era to development of Indo-Islamic building typologies Dr. Aruna Ramani Grover
Firuz Shah Tughlaq was nominated as the Sultan in 1351 on the death of his cousin to rule for the next 37 years. According to historians he was the choice of the Ullema. Disappointed by the idealistic and secular notions of Muhamad bin Tughlaq, they hoped that a sober and devout follower of Islam would bring about a much needed reformist movement. Firuz Shah’s long reign was marked by tremendous building activity which included cities, forts, palaces, canals, gardens, wells, bridges, madrasas, sarais, hospitals and other public works. In addition to new works repairs and renovations of the buildings and public works of earlier rulers were also taken up. The oft held view is that the coffers were empty leading to the erection of buildings of a somber and staid style hitherto unknown. The scale and number of projects however, belies this position. Contemporary historical accounts1 speak of organized state activity for design, erection and finance of these structures. The comparatively long and peaceful reign, the scale of building activity and the clear indication that these activities were organized, underlines the proposition that this was a time for exploration and initiation of Indo-Islamic building typologies. In architectural terms, this was an opportunity hitherto unknown in the sub-continent in general and Delhi in particular. The intention of this paper is to point to five unique architectural projects of the Firuzian era. While three of these became the initiators of typological lineages, two others while truly worthy were left largely unexplored. These five architectural projects are: The Palace Firuz Shah on the Yamuna
The Madarsa complex at Hauz Khas
The Tomb of Telangani in Nizzamuddin
The Khirki Masjid south of Jahanpahah
The Begumpuri Masjid at Jahanpanah
The element of water and the manner of building in its vicinity has been an architectural quest immemorial. In this context, the natural landscape of Delhi had something to offer. The flowing river on a bed of soft soil and the catchment of the Aravalli spurs, where a sheet of water collected in the monsoon could remain intact till the attack of the scorching sun the next summer. The former condition, led to the erection of a Palace on the banks of the Yamuna and the latter to a Madarsa Complex at Hauz Khas.
The site of the Palace Firuz Shah is on a rectangular plateau running parallel to the east bank of the Yamuna. Measuring 800m x 1400 m its longer side is on the north-south axis. Today the complex is in compete ruins and it is rather difficult to develop an understanding of the built-form open space structure and one must be wholly dependent on contemporary descriptions and conjectural restorations2.
Surrounded by high walls interspersed by bastions on three sides and the river on the fourth, the main entrance to the complex is from the west. This comprises of a barbican with a lofty Contribution of the Firuzian Era to development of Indo-Islamic building typologies
DELHI: A Heritage City; Nominating Delhi on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Cities
& ASHOK LAT
FIRUZ SHAHS PALACE
GARDEN OF GRAPES WITH
TOP: Conjectural restoration of the Palace of Firuz Shah Tughlaq. BOTTOM LEFT: View of Hawa Mahal and the rear wall of the Jama Majid, Firuz Shah Kotla. BOTTOM RIGHT: Entrance to the Jami Masjid. Firuz Shah Kotla.
gate, with a rectangular enclose containing the guard room and the barracks. Beyond this first space is a large rectangular garden with the Mahal-i-Sahn-Gilin used by the royal visitors...