MUHAMMAD BIN TUGHLAQ’S NAI-KA-KOT
After the death of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in 1325, the throne of Delhi was taken over by his son; Jaunah Khan who allegedly set a conspiracy to kill his father Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. Ghiyasuddin was only able to rule for 5 years, but during his short stint as the Sultan, many problems emerged between him and the eclectic Sufi Saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. One major issue of a rift between the two was laborers as the laborers used to work for the Sultan during the day and for Nizamuddin during the night. When the laborers used to return in the morning, they used to be tired and take rest under the shade, which made Ghiyasuddin cut the supply of burning oil for Nizamuddin so that the laborers wouldn’t be able to work for him during the night. Texts from the early 14th century tell us that after this incident, Nizamuddin Auliya cursed Tughlaqabad. Jaunah Khan, better known as Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, immensely respected Nizamuddin Auliya, and hence when he assumed the throne, he didn’t want to live in Tughlaqabad and hence he shifted to a place in Adilabad called Nai-Ka-Kot.
The Nai-Ka-Kot has left us with more questions than answers. Meaning the Barber’s fortress leaves us with a question, whether it was built by a barber? Barbers during that time didn’t used to earn much and didn’t, so how could a barber build a fortress? A very famous bardic tale goes with this fortress: ‘One day a jobless barber went to the forest hoping to be eaten by the wild animals as he was fed up with his life. But as the sunset took place, he got scared and climbed a tree, from where he saw robbers distributing their booty. While witnessing this, his balance got a bit off as he was shaking with fear, and he fell on the robbers which scared them and made them run away. This left the barber with all the booty, with which he lived happily ever after’. But this story is just a fairytale and not history. Barbers did occupy some importance during social functions such as marriages, ceremonies, and a child’s birth. The royal barber did enjoy some status in the court due to his personal relations with the Sultan. Hence the story of the Nai-Ka-Kot could be a story of the Royal barber attached to Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. Another tale about the Royal Barber is that the royal barber knew about a lot of gossips and rumors he heard from the markets, and when he used to visit the Sultan to trim his beard, he used to share the rumors with him. One day the barber told the Sultan, about a conspiracy being set up against him, and in gratitude, Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq got a fortress build in the name of his informant.
Some other questions also arise, as the Nai-Ka-Kot is also called as Dhobi Kot (Washerman’s fortress) and the Mehtar Kot (Sweeper’s Fortress). Questions arise such as, did the king honor the sweeper and the washerman too? What services did they render to the Sultan? Did they also tell the king about some conspiracy? The absence of records makes it hard to find answers related to this mysterious fort that is dilapidated. One thing we know for sure is that the Nai-Ki-Kot was the residence of the Sultan in his later days and probably the washerman, barber, and sweeper were allowed in the fort to help the Sultan in his daily activities so that the king can lead a comfortable life while maintaining privacy. Courtiers who used to make fun of the Sultan behind his back probably called the fort as Nai-Ka-Kot and the name got stuck ever since then.