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Delhi : Sultan Ghari Tomb

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sultan Ghari Tomb is located at Malakapur Village near Vasant Kunj in Delhi which is near the Qutub Minar Complex.
Signboard on the road leading to Masjid Sultan Ghari

Sultan Ghari Tomb was the first Islamic Tomb built by Iitumish in 1231 AD for his son Prince Nasiru'd-Din-Mahmud. Iitumish was the third sultan of the Slave Dynasty who ruled Delhi between 1210 AD to 1236 AD. 

A muddy road leads one to the Sultan Ghari Tomb.
Sultan Ghari entrance and fortification
First thoughts: Looking at the structure, I thought it was  a fort, with the tomb situated within it. I saw a couple of vendors sitting outside it selling flowers and articles of worship. The tomb is visited by both Hindu and Muslim devotees from around Delhi. Rohan told me that on Thursday it , is full house here.
Chhatri outside Sultan Ghari Tomb
A series of steps leads to the entrance of the premises, it had four bastion like structure around it with large windows in the walls. The walls were made of sandstone, common material used for building most of the historical structures around Delhi. 
Sultan Ghari Tomb
We entered the fortification via the door and walked inside barefeet. A octagonal structure lied in the middle of the walls. There were people sitting next to the fortification walls.Maybe they had come to offer prayers. But where is the tomb? was the question I had in my mind. 
Ruins outside Sultan Ghari
Rohan and I walked all around the octagonal structure and finally I located  a small door, from the door a series of winding steps leads one to the tomb. The steps are so narrow that only one person can travel at a time. Reminded me of the steps at Sindhudurg Fort in Malvan. The steps narrow steps had made it impossible for me to get down from the fort walls. 
Stairs leading to the tomb
There are a couple of tombs here. The one covered in white sheet is the tomb of Nasiru'd-Din-Mahmud. There are candles lit all around it and people praying near it. We stood still for a moment here and then decided to see around. A couple of pillars hold the tomb top from the inside. Taking photos is a bit difficult here due to low lightning. But I still managed to get a couple of shots without turning on the flash and gathering attention. 
Sultan Ghari Tomb
I couldn't stand there for much longer , as I was finding it difficult to breathe and hence rushed to  the surface. Rohan joined me up in a couple of minutes.
People queuing up to go in the Tomb premises
We then decided to walk on the walls surrounding the tomb to get a better view of the place. There are a couple of ruins located outside the Tomb premises. There is also the Chhatri of Iitumish son located outside the tomb premises. 
Islamic verses in Sultan Ghari
The dome placed on the four bastion like structure had a unique and different shape, something which I had never on the other historical structures around Delhi. 
More Ruins outside Sultan Ghari
We then headed out of the tomb premises as it was almost sunset. 

Delhi : Ziggurat one off Metcalfe's Folly in Qutub Complex

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Ziggurat one off Metcalfe's Folly is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

The Ziggurat one off Metcalfe's Folly

These two structures are located within the Qutub Complex. 

There is a railing put around it, so entry to the top of it is restricted. Not sure about it's history though.

Both are pyramid like structures made of stone, but built differently. By the look of it, they looks like they have been restored. Both the structures are not vey tall. One looks just like a pyramid, a series of steps takes one to the top. The other a spiral pathway leading to the top. Had they been open, they would have offered a wondeful view of the Qutub Complex.

The Ziggurat one off Metcalfe's Folly

Delhi : Smith's Cupola in Qutub Complex

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Smith's Cupola aka Smith's Folly is located near Sanderson's Sundial in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

My first thoughts on the Smith Cupola, were. "Why is this built in the middle of nowhere?" 
Qutub Minar

Rohan, my friend and guide informed me that it was once placed atop the Qutub Minar. To which, I was like, "What?" as it didn't match the design of the Qutub Minar.

The Qutub Minar, was built to commemorate the victory of Muhammad Ghori over Prithviraj Chauhan, in the 13th century A.D. It was the first monument of Islamic Afghan architecture in India. 
Smith Cupola

Qutub-ud-din Aibak initiated the construction of Qutub Minar. Qutub building Qutub. But he could finish only the first storey in his lifetime, The Minar was made of red and buff sandstone with fluted columns on the exterior and covered with the kufic style of Islamic calligraphy. Iltutmish, Qutub-ud-din’s successor carried the work on to completion, he constructed three more storeys in the same style.

The Minar was the tallest structure then and hence had to suffer the wrath of mother nature i.e earthquakes and lightning. Due to which the top most part of the Minar fell to the ground. It was then repaired under the orders of Feroz Shah Tughlaq. The repairs were done with marble and a new Cupola was placed atop it.

Mother Nature attacked again in 1803 with a earthquake and it destroyed the Cupola built by Feroz Shah.

By this time the British, were in India. Major Robert Smith was authorized by the British Governor General of India (Name not known) to carry on the repairs. 

Major Smith was asked to re create and not re invent. Which he did. He had replaced the Indo Islamic cupola with a Bengali Styled Chattri. As the work he had done nowhere matched the Qutub Minar, it was taken off and was placed in the Qutub Minar premises. It is called Smith's Folly ever since.  

Delhi : Sanderson's Sundial in Qutub Complex

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Sanderson's Sundial is located near the Cupola in the Qutub complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

To be frank, I didn't know how a sundial actually looked, though I had heard of it.

A sundial is device the measures the time, it that measures the position of the sun, against the shadow cast by a blade on a reference scale.

Sanderson's Sundial
The dial is  built of marble and has a blade in the center of it. When the sun light falls on it, the shadow of the blade determines the time. It was around 1 PM on my watch, but to be very frank I was not able to understand the time based on the sundial.

The sundial was built in the memory of Sanderson , who was one of the Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He carried out extensive excavations in and around this place. 

Delhi : Ala-ud-din Khilji's tomb and madrasa in Qutub Complex

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ala-ud-din Khilji Tomb and Madrasa is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

 Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji initially known as Ali Gurshap was the  second ruler of Khilji dynasty. He was one of the most powerful rulers who ruled between 1296 AD to 1316 AD.  His tomb was constructed near the madrasa aka educational centre in 1316.

The tomb was constructed by his loyal Nobles. 

The madrasa is a series of rooms, where students used to study Islam, sadly they are in ruins now, the roofs of which collapsed a long time ago. 

Delhi : Iron Pillar in Qutub Complex

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Iron Pillar is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

The Iron Pillar is located in the courtyard of  Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. 
Iron Pillar in the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

The Iron Pillar has survived all weather conditions till date. There is no corrosion on it. The black colored iron pillar also has inscription on it in Sanskrit written in Brahmi script. Which states that it was erected in honor of Hindu God Vishnu by Gupta King Chandragupta II. 
Iron Pillar with Qutub Minar in the background
Inscription translated in English
The Iron Pillar is around 7.23 Meter high and weighs in tons. It was originally erected by King Chandragupta II  in front of the Vishnu Temple complex in Udayagiri around 402 AD.
Top of Iron Pillar and Qutub Minar

The Iron pillar is currently fenced to keep visitors away. Local tradition, states that it was considered good luck if one could stand with one's back to the pillar and make one's hands meet behind it. The Bollywood movie Cheeni Kum, has Amitabh Bachan doing the same. 
Inscriptioin on Iron Pillar

Delhi : Tomb of Sultan Iltutmish in the Qutub Complex

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Tomb aka mausoleum of Shams-ud-din Iltutmish is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar

Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was the third ruler of the Mamluk Dynasty aka Slave Dynasty or Ghulam Dynasty of Turkic origin. Mamluk means a soldier of slave origin who has converted to Islam. Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was the son-in- law of Qutb-ud-din Aybak.

He had himself built the tomb in 1235 AD. The tomb is a landmark in Indo-Islamic Architecture. 

The tomb is currently open to the sky as its roof collapsed a long time ago. It was later redone by Firoz Shah Tughluq. But that didn't survive either.

The tomb is built of red stone. from the outside it looks like any other structure. The entrance to the tomb, have got inscription in Kufi and Nashk characters and geometric and arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition.

Tomb made of white stone is placed in the middle. It is surrounded by beautifully decorated tall arches on all sides. 

Western Railway Heritage Gallery at Churchgate in Mumbai

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Western Railway Heritage Gallery is on the ground floor of the Western Railway Head Office, which is exactly opposite to Churchgate Railway station on the Maharshi Karve Road.
Western Railway Head Office

I have traveled  so many times on the Maharshi Karve Road, the Western Railway Head Office is a British built building and is itself more than 100 years old. Gothic Structure, like the BMC building, CST Railway Station and St. Xavier's College and many more surrounding it. I have even noticed the Steam Engine  kept outside it, but never knew about the Heritage Gallery it housed in it. 
Museum premises
The green colored engine, which is in spick and span condition was built in 1923 by WG Bagnall Limited in Stafford in UK. It was in use till 1993, thereafter it was bought and stationed here. Now it can only be towed away from here.

There are security guards places outside the entrance of Western Railway Head Office, luckily they didn't question us and we walked to the entrance of the building. 
Auxillary Warning Centre
Once you enter take a left and it leads to the Heritage Gallery. There was not a soul there, I believe it was lunch time. We started walking towards the artifacts, suddenly I heard a thud thud sound, I though there was someone following us, I was surprised to see that it had a wooden flooring. 

The Heritage Gallery is very small in size. 
Steam Engine Model

It houses a small Auxillary Warning System. There was a switch box next to it, sadly there was no one who could show us how it was operated nor was there any engine on the tracks.

It had miniature models of Steam engines, electric engines, compartment of local train.
The different types of rail used over the decades, are put up for display here. 

Tilley floodlight used then are also placed on display, these floodlights might still be use in the rural parts of the country. 
Modes of Communication
Telephone, Central battery exchange, Railway control telephone are some of the modes of communication along with the Relay which are placed on display.  

Other Museums in Mumbai are Bhau Daji Lad Sangrahalaya and BEST Transport Museum. 

Mysore Rail Museum is another Railway museum I had visited when in Mysore

In a matter of 10 minutes we were done, we then headed home. 

BEST Transport Museum in Anik Depot in Mumbai

Monday, July 20, 2015

BEST Transport Museum is located at Anik Depot near Pratiksha Nagar Bus Depot In Mumbai. It can be easily accessed from Sion, Kurla, Chembur and Wadala. 

I had read about the BEST Transport Museum in Mumbai Mirror. History excites me. BEST transport is considered one of the lifeline's of Mumbai City I set out with Manohar for company to  visit it along with Railway Heritage Museum in Churchgate. 

As decided we met at Anik Depot. At the entry point, we were asked the purpose of our visit. To which we informed that we had come to see the museum. We were then made to write our details on a small book manned by a guard and then provided with instructions to the museum. We were informed that the museum is under CCTV and hence no photography is allowed in the premises. 

The museum is located in the building on the third floor which is near the entrance of Anik Depot. We climbed the metal staircase to reach the third floor where the museum is.

The museum is not maintained at all. The artifacts in the museum premises are covered with dust, which maybe coming in from the windows, which are kept open so that air circulates in its premises. Lack of funds maybe the reason why it is in this state. It was reported in the newspapers a couple of days ago that BEST bus services are not in very good state and it this continues they will have to terminate the BEST bus services. 

Mr. Chaulker who can be contacted on 9833662461 is the curator of the Museum, he has been there for the last 14 years. He informed us that the museum is around 16 years old. It was started in 1981 in Kurla Bus Depot, later it was moved here due to lack of space. Mr Chaulker provided us with a lot of information on the artifacts in the museum premises. 7th August is celebrated as BEST day. 

The Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM from Wednesday to Sunday. 1PM to 2 PM being lunch time. As it is a one man show, please do not visit at lunch time. It is also closed on public holidays. There is no entry fee. 

In 1905 Bombay Electric Supply and Tramway Limited Co. (BEST) was formed by tow British Gentlemen. I do not recollect their names, but their photos are present in the Museum, in 1947 Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Limited CO. (BEST) was formed. It's head office was located at Electric House. The signboard located outside it is on display at the museum.

The first thing we notice is the miniature 3D models of the various bus depots in Mumbai CIty, It gives a aerial view of how they looked when they were initally constructed. Apart from there is also a houses the model of  the Malad Bus Depot. It had it been constructed the way it is shown in the model, Mumbai would have got its first on ground and underground bus depot. It was to accomodate more buses to be parked in its premises. But due to some issues, it remained just a 3D model and now a regular bus depot stands there.

BEST used to run a ferry boat service between Madh and Manori, it was later given to BMC as the cost of operation and maintainence was high due to which they started incurring loses, later on BMC, handed it over to a private operator. It had a conductor like they have on the bus. Photos and a 3D model is put for display here.  

BEST dept had come with the idea of running underground trains in 1960, but due to lack of funding both from Dept and Govt they had to abort the plan. The model of how the same would be constructed is also kept for display. Now we have the over ground metro and mono rail in Mumbai. 

On the walls are hung the photos of men who have held top postions in BEST history since its inception. 

It has miniature 3D buses (single and double decker) trams (single and double decker) used for transportation purposes.  It also showcases back and white photos of the various buses and trams used for the transportation of people over the decades. The second class seats along with the first class seats used in the Tram are placed here.

The price of the tickets ranged from 1 anna to 9 anna. Yes you read it right. Due to inflation, cost of living and maintainence of BEST, the prices of tickets have gone that high. 

It also showcases a collection of tickets that were printed then, initally tickets were printed in UK later they started printing them in Mumbai. Some of the tickets being as big a the size of a Rs.10 note. There was this one ticket, that had my attention, it featured the bus route (map) on the back of it. Hence the size of it was large. The daily pass concept was started a couple of decades ago. But the photo ID came in later as people started misusing it to their benefit. 

The various coins used for transactional purposes are up for display along with the fake ones. Imagine counterfeit currency too was in use then.  

It also features the radiators of the various buses that have served the BEST transportation system. It features the logos of bus manufacturing companies, whose buses were used in the transportation business. The chassis of the Daimler bus is located in it for display, the wall of the third floor was broken down and a crane was used to lift it, to  be placed here. The bus has got hand gears, just like a Fiat Padmini Car, two pedals for break and clutch on left and acclerator on the right. It also has a handle below the radiator, which needed to be turned so that it starts the bus. 

Speakers used to make annoucements (Bhopu in Hindi) are also here for dislay.

Miniature glazed paper models of buses and engines created by one of the employees of BEST are also placed here for viewing.

The various models of electric meters, which used to be places outside the houses for reading the electricity consumption are also here for display. Typewriter, bill printing machines, calculators, telephones and intercom systems, ticket validating machines, grandfather clocks, though none of them are working are here for display. 

A fan, whose motor is placed within a carved wooden body and the blades of which are made of wood is also located right above the place where Mr Chaulker is seated, The fan still operates at a particular speed, as the regulator is not functioning, it still provided us with cool breeze. Table fans used over the years, can also be located here, they are in working condiiton. 

A Share Certificate of Bombay Tramway Co. is also here for display. He also informed us about the history behind the same. 

A huge black bell escavated from Wadala Bus Depot, along with street lamp posts, road dividers are here for display. As per Mr Chaulker, man used to carry a ladder, matchsticks and oil so that he could lit the street lamps every evening. 

The rails on which the trams used to run are also in display.  

It houses the uniforms of the bus driver, conductor, starter (A person who gives instructions at the bus depot), ticket examiner, tram driver and how they have been altered over the decades.

The museum also showcases a beautiful collection of the photos taken over decades of BEST Trams and buses which plyed over the Mumbai Roads.

Mr. Chaulker gave us a thirty minute guided tour of the museum, he provided us with some valuable lessons in the history of BEST. 

I hope my blog post has motivated you to go visit it, no photos taken, as this place is full of surprises. But you need to go visit it to explore it, we then proceeded to see the Heritage Museum at Churchgate. 

Other lesser known Museums around Mumbai are Western Railway Heritage Gallery and Bhau Daji Lad Sangrahalaya.

Delhi : Alai Minar in Qutub Complex

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Alai Minar is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

When I saw this structure, many thoughts ran through my mind. Was it a Mosque in ruins or some historic monument. But what Rohan told me, blew my mind off. He informed that, this was supposed to be a Minar, the tallest had it been built.
Alai Minar

The Alai Minar is an incomplete monument that lies within the Qutub complex. Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khalji of the Khilji dynasty's dream of constructing a Minar (Tower) to commemorate his win in the Deccan campaigns. 

He wanted to built a Minar that was double the height of the Qutub Minar as he wanted people to remember him after his death. 
Alai Minar

Qutub Minar is a spectacular piece of art, not sure as to why Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khalji wanted to built something bigger and taller than that. After all we are human so ego clashes are bound to happen. LOL. 

Delhi : Alai Darwaza in Qutub Complex

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Alai Darwaza is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.

The Alai Darwaza is the main gateway (one of the four) to the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. The other three couldn't be completed. It was built by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the second Khilji Sultan in 1311 AD. It is believed to be the oldest dome in India. 
Alai Darwaza with Qutub Minar in the background
The domed Gateway is made of red sandstone within which white marble is laid, which has Naskh script on it. The Darwaza has Indo- Islamic style of architecture. Indo Islamic is a combination of both Islamic and Hindu Art. 
Alai Darwaza with Qutub Minar in the background

Delhi : Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque in Qutub Complex

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.
View of Qutub Minar from Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque aka Qutub Mosque was the first Mosque in Delhi. It was built by Qutb-ud-din-Aibak. He was the founder of the Mamluk or Slave Dynasty. 

The construction of the Mosque started in 1193 AD. It was built alongside the Qutub Minar. 
Beautifully Carved pillars of Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque
The Mosque was constructed after the destruction of the 27 Hindu and Jain Temples that stood there during the reign of the Tomars and Prithvi Raj Chauhan. Not sure as to what sadistic pleasure it gave them to destroy one monument to built another. As King's they should have enough money to built a monument from scratch.
Ashok's Pillar from Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque
The way the structure is constructed is very similar to Bharatmata Temple in Daulatabad Fort. The pillars of the Mosque are beautifully carved.The details are worth taking note off. 
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque
Though the Mosque was constructed by Qutb-ud-din-Aibak, it was re modified by him and also Iltutmish. Later changes were made by Alauddin Khilji. The Mosque are completely in ruins now. 

The Iron Pillar is erected within the Mosque premises. 

We later went to see the tomb of Ittutmish. 

Delhi : Qutub Minar in Qutub Complex

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Qutub Minar is located in the Qutub Complex, which is located near the Mehrauli Archaeological Park on the Sri Aurobindo Marg, the closest Metro station being Qutub Minar.
Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar is so tall that it can be seen from a distance, much before I could reach the Qutub Minar Metro station.

The Minar was named after Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki a famous Sufi saint who lived in Delhi. 

Qutub Minar is made of red stone and it has 379 steps to reach the top. Entry to the top is restricted though. The Minar is around 238 feet high. The Minar has inscriptions in Parso-Arabic and Nagari characters. 
Qutub Minar
The Minar comprises of several cylindrical shafts which grow conical at the top. Each of the cylindrical shafts have balconies around them. Imagine the view of the land from these balconies, it would be just amazing to snap some amazing pics there. 
Qutub Minar
Initially I was under the impression that the Minar in Daulatabad fort around Aurangabad is the tallest, but I was wrong. 
Inscription on Qutub Minar

The construction of the Minar was started in 1193 AD by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Who died after completing the first storey, the next three storeys were built by his successor, Iltutmish. Whose Tomb resides in the Qutub Minar Complex. Firoz Shah Tughlaq completed the last storey, which was built of red sandstone and marble. 
Qutub Minar
It is said that the  Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, is the first mosque to be built in Delhi. 

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