ferozeshah-kotla

The Feroz Shah Kotla was a fortress built by Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq to house his version of Delhi city called Ferozabad. A pristine polished sandstone pillar from the 3rd century B.C. rises from the palace’s crumbling remains, one of many pillars of Ashoka left by the Mauryan emperor; it was moved from Pong Ghati Ambala, Punjab (currently in Haryana) to Delhi under orders of Firoz Shah Tughlaq of Delhi Sultanate, and re-erected in its present location in 1356.

The original inscription on the obelisk is primarily in Brahmi script but language was prakrit, with some Pali and Sanskrit added later. The inscription was successfully translated in 1837 by James Prinsep. This and other ancient lats (pillars, obelisk) have earned Firoz Shah Tughlaq and Delhi Sultanate fame for its architectural patronage. Other than the Ashokan Pillar, the Fort complex also houses the Jami Masjid (Mosque), a Baoli and a large garden complex.

Feroz Shah Tughlaq (r. 1351–88), the Sultan of Delhi, established the fortified city of Firuzabad in 1354, as the new capital of the Delhi Sultanate, and included in it the site of the present Feroz Shah Kotla. Kotla literally means fortress or citadel. The pillar, also called obelisk or Lat is an Ashoka Column, attributed to Mauryan ruler Ashoka. The 13.1 metres high column, made of polished sandstone and dating from the 3rd Century BC, was brought from Ambala in 14th century Aunder orders of Feroz Shah. It was installed on a three-tiered arcaded pavilion near the congregational mosque, inside the Sultanate’s fort. In centuries that followed, much of the structure and buildings near it were destroyed as subsequent rulers dismantled them and reused the spolia as building materials.

In the pre-independence era, due to lack of auditoriums in the capital, most classical music performances were staged here or at Qutub complex. Later Ebrahim Alkazi, then head of NSD, staged his landmark production of Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha Yug here and its premiere in 1964 was attended by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Jami Masjid is one of the most ancient and largest surviving mosque and monument, still in use. Architecturally it was built on a series of underground cells and made of quartzite stone, covered with lime stone. It is surrounded by a large courtyard with cloisters and a Prayer Hall. The Prayer Hall now in complete ruins, was once used by the Royal Ladies. The mosque and its architecture is an example of Tughluq architecture.

The entrance of Jama Masjid lies on the northern side. It is connected by a causeway to the pyramidal structure of the Ashokan Pillar. This mosque was visited by Sultan Timur in 1398 AD to say his prayers. He was spellbound by its beauty and constructed a mosque in Samarkand in Iran imitating the design of this Masjid. This mosque is also known to be the place where Imad ul Mulk, a Mughal Prime Minister, was murdered by his own Emperor Alamgir Sani in 1759 AD.

Every Thursday there is a huge crowd at the fort. It is popularly believed that Jinn(s) descend down at the Fort from the Heavens and accept requests and wishes from people. A lot of wishes, penned down on paper, can be seen on the walls within the premises.

The association to Jinn(s) seems to be not too old. It is only since 1977, a few months after the end of the Emergency, that there are first records of people starting to come to Firoz Shah Kotla in large numbers.