Attractions in Delhi – Tughlaqabad Fort

The crumbling remains of the Tughlaqabad Fort are reminiscent of its lost grandeur. Ghazi Malik would toss and turn in his grave seeing his dream city in such neglect and disrepair. The fort itself is a desolate place with only a few visitors coming to catch the glimpse of this relic of past. My friends and I arrived at the fort by 7:00 in the morning and we were the first one to buy the tickets. The view of the magnificent façade of the fort from the road got me excited even before I could get inside.

Attractions in Delhi

Arches and lush lawn inside the Tomb of Ghyas-ud-Din Tughlaq

First of all we decided to make our way to the Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq. The Mausoleum of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq is connected by a causeway to the southern outpost of the fortification. This elevated causeway leads across a former artificial lake and is nowadays pierced by the Mehrauli- Badarpur road. The complex of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq’s tomb is entered by a high gateway made up of red sandstone with a flight of steps. When we arrived there, it was early morning with hints of dewdrops on the well manicured lawns inside the tomb structure. The lushness of the lawns was in stark contrast to the bleakness of the exteriors. The tomb in the center is an outstanding structure and the inside acoustics where the three graves are placed is remarkable – your voice gets considerably amplified. The edifice is topped by an elegant dome resting on an octagonal drum that is covered with white slabs of marble.

Tughlaqabad Fort

Gross Neglect - Ruins of the main Fortress which is located opposite the Tomb

After the tomb we headed for the main fortress. Stretching over 6.5 Kms. area, the insides of the fort tells a different story. Thorny bushes, utter ruin and disappearing buildings overtaken by the jungle tells a story of gross neglect and to add to that the scribbling on the walls and still standing structures is the same old story and often familiar sight while visiting monuments in India. I guess lovers are one of the biggest threats to the monuments in India and they should be banned from entering the heritage sites. Well jokes apart, most of the town lies in ruins and here and there invaded by bushes and plants. Only one part of the old city still stands and evokes the sense of lost grandeur and the massive scale at which the city must have been constructed and envisaged by Ghazi Malik.

The massive ramparts, battlements, and the mammoth stonework of this fort speak highly of the engineering skills of the workers who constructed it. The fort served the dual purpose of a defensive structure as well as the imperial capital of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty. There are a number of monuments within the precincts of this massive fort.

Forts in Delhi

Light by the end of tunnel - This used to be the soldier's quarter

I took many photographs inside and around the structure. If not for the gloomy Delhi skyline, photos could have been better. But still I took many photographs and was blessed to spot a Yellow Wattled Lapwing and a common Woodpecker. All in all it was a rewarding experience and I’d definitely recommend this place for the serenity pervading its precincts and a definite thumbs up for the fact that it’s not a crowded place like Lodi Garden or Humayun’s Tomb which are almost impossible to visit on weekends. Researching for the stuff about this fort I came across an interesting legend attributed to the Tughlaqabad Fort.

Things to do in Delhi

A panoramic view of the fort - the tourists (foreign) seen in the pic were only other visitors beside us and local guys playing cricket inside

There’s an interesting legend associated with the Tughlaqabad Fort. The demise of Tughlaqabad was not brought about by any foreign invasion, but to the curse of a Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din. The legendary quarrel between the two started when Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq did not allow his people to work for the saint on the construction of a baoli (step well). This angered the saint. A prolonged tiff followed, which offended the saint and led to his famous prophecy “Hunuz Dilli dur ast” (Delhi is yet far away), for the sultan was then out in Bengal. He made another ominous reference to the sultan’s fort when he remarked “Ya rahe usar, ya basé Gujjar” (Either it remains deserted or be peopled by men of the Gujjar tribe). Both these prophecies proved true. Ghiyas-ud-din was killed at a place near Delhi when a shamiana (canopy, marquee) collapsed over him during a reception arranged by his son. The sultan could not reach Delhi alive. His successor chose to build his own fort and deserted Tughlaqabad. It soon became a haunt for the Gujjars tending their cattle within the abandoned fort of Ghiyas-ud-din.

Delhi travel

We were fortunate to spot and capture (just in camera) this Yellow Wattled lapwing - She did her best to avoid publicity though


Nikhil Ghumakkar

A bee collecting nectar - Couldn't resist posting this here although the pic was taken outside the fortress same day in Indraprastha Park which was teeming with flowers

Birding in Delhi

Bee Eater - There were plenty but they were camera-shy


  • Nandan says:

    It finished too soon, was hoping to read more of legend.

    At least now they have a restricted entry. I remember getting in, sometime in 1999 or so, along with few friends with no access control. We were working at an office at Okhla, Delhi and just drove down to this place.

    I read today morning that ‘Deptt of Tourism’ is launching a website to campaign for getting the ‘World Heritage City’ status to Delhi. Thanks for the beautiful shots.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hey Nandan,
      Sorry to disappoint you.
      I agree its one of my pithy post :-) I’ll take care of it in future.

      Do you really believe that Delhi should be conferred World Heritage Status. I disagree. Everyday I walk the road or go visit some monuments I see gross apathy – public and concerned authorities. There’s a lot to be done before authorities and people of Delhi think that Delhi should be awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

      Last Sunday I went to Hauz Khas Village and I was hugely disappointed. There are no birds to be seen in a place which has been host to 200 bird species. Duck Point is almost dry and there’s no cleanliness. The entire Deer Park is in a sorry state. SO much so for the birding …all I could do there was See-Saw and Slides. I had thought that I’ll have a coffee in Kunzum but alas my visit couldn’t even last 2 hours so I had to leave before the restaurants open.

      I’ll come up with that sad story soon.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    I use to cross Tuglaqabad fort daily to reach my office which is located on Mathura road. We made so many plans to visit this place but did not materialized.

    You reached there on right time , after that this place is occupied by the couples :-)

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hello Mahesh
      Thanks for your observation.
      I couldn’t believe that the fort premises becomes a refuge of the “couples” :-)
      But with the benefit of hindsight, yes they are more than enough cozy corners :-) Almost every heritage site (forts ) and most of the parks have become a place for “couples”. That’s so disturbing as well as disgusting.
      As for the matter of fact if one is traveling in Delhi it better be finished before 9:00AM or else its chaos and cacophony. But then that’s my personal opinion.

  • Vibha says:

    Thanks for taking us to Tughlaqabad with your beautiful pictures (in spite of the gloomy skyline) and an engaging write-up. You are right about lovers being the biggest threats to our monuments. :) But monuments like the Qutb Minar and the surrounding historical buildings have been successfully protected. And therefore I think it isn’t an impossible problem to solve. But that would mean a strict military like protection of all monuments. If only we were not so prone to mischief as soon as the authority looks the other way, things would’ve been totally different here.

    The beautiful bird in the sixth picture is a hoopoe. It is commonly mistaken for a woodpecker whereas it is actually a distant relative of Kingfishers.

    • Chandra81 says:

      Hey V
      Thanks for finding the post enlightening after Nandan telling me that I “finished too soon” :-)
      I guess Newton’s 3rd law works just fine :D
      More than law and fines we need awareness about our heritage and their importance and why we should treasure them.

      And thanks a lot for correcting the birds name.

  • Amit Kumar says:

    It was indeed an interesting piece of information about the demise of Tughlaqabad fort. I have never been there but its on my radar. Thanks for sharing the information.



    My memories of the fort are from way way back,when we young student lovers found fort a safe place,after cycling for hours,(like Hauz Khas in those days) from the prying eyes.But not from cops who would suddenly appear from no-where,lift their shirt, show you his official police- numbered paytti(belt) and demand money for not informing the family.Dont blame the lovers,even modern ones, for destroying the heritage. Who built the TAJ?
    I admire the wonderfull pictures of the birds and the bees(threat to the lovely flower?)

    • Chandra81 says:

      Thank you Jatinder for your thoughful comment :-)
      If you watch closely I have used inverted comma when I said lovers I was being specific. Neither I nor do I think Vibha and Mahesh meant that lovers in general are to blame :-)
      I am talking about those lovers who instead of building Taj try to immortalize their love by scribbling their name on the walls and insides of our monuments and heritage buildings. Have you ben to Jantar Mantar…have you seen the state it is in….have you been to Purana Quila or Buddha Jayanti Park …have you seen the shameless PDA of “couples” and “lovers”. Isn’t home or house a good place for making love. Monuments are our heritage and we should respect public places and their sanctity.
      That’s what I mean :-)
      Plz don’t mind and don’t take it personally.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Chandra – I think a LOT needs to happen and probably getting the tag might help to get the funds and the focus.

  • Nandan says:

    some recent developments. Looks like ASI is taking more interest and might have some plans.

  • Malvika Singh Rana says:

    Has the curse of the saint really worked? I went to the fort because it calls me, it seems like I am one of those who knows everything from that place, every stone touched by me and every ruin belongs to me. Don’t know what it has done to me but since then, I have forgotten several things like the last time I smiled or had a good time. A sadness, just like the curse of the saint has seized me since then and I feel like to spend every moment there. Just can’t help thinking about that place, everytime I am online, I search for this place. I have lost all my friends and family as I could not think of anything else then the fort. I believe that the curse has worked on me as I have become HISSAR….

  • Arpita Chakraborty says:

    I recently visited the place and found it enchanting. It is awe inspiring for its sheer vastness. The fort made me so engrossed in it that I lost count of time until the security personnel said visiting time was over. I wish I could explore more of the fort and its lost grandeur. I keep on imagining how the fort might look in its prime form. If you could provide details of the various ruins lying there to easily recognise them it will be highly helpful. I wish competent authority will take steps to clean this beautiful place and look for its better maintenance.

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