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After Iltutmish’s Mehrauli, Allaudin Khilji’s Siri, Tughlaqabad became the third city of Delhi built by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. Delhi is built up of 7 cities, namely, Mehrauli, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahapanah, Kushke Ferozabad, Purana Qila and Shahjahanabad, in chronological order. Out of these 7 cities, only 2 cities (Mehrauli and Shahjahanabad) were urban centers and the rest were capitals. In order to trace the coruscating past of these cities, one needs to first know the difference between urban centers and capitals. The striking difference between capitals and cities/urban centers is that capitals produce cities that have a different and unique culture, a working-class, a resident population. It is similar to the situation today, where people don’t live in Lutyens Delhi except those who have been allotted homes by the government, rather people live in settlements and cities such as Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh and many more. Thus, except Shahjahanabad and Mehrauli, all the other cities of Delhi, were mere places from where the emperors operated, but Shahjahanabad and Mehrauli evolved as places where markets emerged along with culture, arts, tradition, and language influenced by the people which occupied these areas.




While all cities of Delhi, have unique characteristics, Tughlaqabad has its own tales, as it couldn’t be completed because of the demise of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. A lot of stories revolve around the name Tughlaqabad, as after Ghiyasuddin’s death, his successor Mohammad Bin Tughlaq moved to Jahapanah and Tughlaqabad was deserted. During Ghiyasuddin’s rule, Delhi also housed the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who lived in Ghiyaspura which was named not after Tughlaq but after Ghiyasuddin Balban who was a ruler from the Slave Dynasty. Being a Sufi Saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya saw many visitors to his place. One day, when the construction work of Tughlaqabad was going on, Nizamuddin Auliya asked few of his students to build a Baoli for him, as there was a water shortage in the area, but all the skilled labor which could build the Baoli, were involved in the monarch’s project. This was when one of Nizamuddin Auliya’s disciples, Naseeruddin visited the workers who were in Tughlaqabad and asked them to work for the Sultan during the day and after the sunset, they could come and work for the Sufi Saint. This system was only able to last for a few days as the laborers replenished all their energy by working day and night, and eventually, they started taking rest during their work hours, which resulted in them getting caught by the nobles of Ghiyasuddin. Soon, the news of the workers working for Nizamuddin Auliya reached the Sultan and he got angry as he was someone who disliked Nizamuddin in the first place due to his rising popularity in the city. Thus, Ghiyasuddin ordered an issue, that no one will sell oil to Nizamuddin Auliya, as without burning oil, there would be no light and no one will be able to work. The next day when the laborers went back to work on Nizamuddin’s Baoli without letting the nobles know. But as they reached the construction spot there was no burning oil and the laborers couldn’t work as there was no light. This is when Naseeruddin asked the laborers, why aren’t they working? To which they replied that there is no light. Naseeruddin then asked the laborers for a Mashal and he took the Mashal to a storeroom and came back with lamps powered by burning oil. When the laborers asked, where did the burning oil come from? Naseeruddin replied that with the magical powers of Nizamuddin, they could generate oil. Hence a rumor spread in the markets about the magical powers of the Sufi saint. In actuality, Naseeruddin had already stored some buffer oil as he had already anticipated that the Sultan could hinder their daily needs. This news reached Nizamuddin Auliya, who got very happy with Naseeruddin and gave him a new name, “Naseeruddin Roshan Chirag e Dilli”, which meant the light of Delhi. Today, the name Chirag Delhi comes from the name ‘Naseeruddin Roshan Chirag e Dilli’ as Naseeruddin lies buried in Chirag Delhi. Many more such stories revolve around Tughlaqabad and other cities of Delhi, that make us reminisce over the legacy left behind by the rulers and Sufi Saints.

Cover Picture Courtesy:

Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya

Dargah of Naseeruddin Roshan Chirag e Dilli

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