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The reign of the Tughlaq dynasty in 1320 began with the construction of the Tughlaqabad Fort — spread across six kilometres, with imposing stone fortifications. Once the pride of the dynasty, it is now a ruin frequented by tourists, lovers looking for a quiet time, heritage enthusiasts and a fair share of “anti-social elements”. For the last one year now, the Delhi circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been restoring the fort’s wall. “It’s a massive monument, and the fortification wall is broken at places and has developed cracks too. We are conserving it in phases… Phase I of the project is over,” N S Pathak, superintending archaeologist, ASI (Delhi circle), said.
It was built by the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, when he came to power in 1320 after overthrowing the Khalji dynasty. The fortified city was built in four years on the rocky terrain, as a defence mechanism. But it was abandoned after 15 years and is believed to have never been fully occupied to begin with.
According to legend, saint Nizamuddin Auliya had cursed Tughlaq because he employed all the labourers to construct the fort, leaving Auliya’s baoli work incomplete. The curse — “Ya rahey ujjar, ya basey gujjar” means “either it remains inhabited or be occupied by herdsmen”. According to Pathak, “We have done restoration work using the same stones that the wall is built of, as they are often found lying around the area. They are then set in lime mortar.” For now, the monument lacks basic amenities such as public toilets, drinking water kiosks and benches — despite funds being allocated for the same to the ASI by the National Culture Fund in 2014. “It’s a massive fort and work is always going on there. It can’t happen in one go. Maybe due to some reasons, the toilets and drinking kiosks were not built in 2014, but they will be constructed now,” D N Dimri, ASI spokesperson, said.
Pathak added, “We have requested the Delhi Jal Board to dig a borewell so we can provide the proposed amenities such as toilets and drinking water facilities.” Apart from this, ASI (Delhi Circle) has also requested the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to help with illumination of the fort. “They did some lighting work a few years ago but it doesn’t work anymore. We’ve requested the DDA to do it again. People do visit Tughlaqabad Fort, especially when the Surajkund Mela is on. It would help if the fort is illuminated,” Pathak said.